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Holland 5-3 Hungary

Hungary put in a strong performance against Holland, but Dirk Kuyt’s 3 minute brace cancelled out any hope of a shock result for the Magyars.

Following Holland’s 4-0 victory in Budapest just 4 days earlier, Holland were again tipped to roll over a Hungary side who were likely to be low on confidence.

But that simply wasn’t the case even though it looked like it was going to be as Van Persie was left unmarked from a corner to make it 1-0 after just 13 minutes.

Holland were unchanged from Friday, and it certainly looked to have worked in the opening periods of the game.

Hungary’s response was good however, and even though they didn’t create any clear cut chances in the first half, they more than held their own for 45 minutes, with Dirk Kuyt’s one on one the only other chance the Magyars allowed.

Hungary had made a few changes since the first game. They were without the suspended Elek and Liptak so Lazar and Pinter were the like for like replacements, and both performed admirably. Kiraly, Koman and Varga also dropped to the bench with Fulop, Priskin and Vadocz replacing them as Egervari approached the game in a more positive way, opting for a classic 4-4-2 formation.

There were two changes at half-time, one for each team with the injured Van Persie being replaced by veteran striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and Adam Pinter being replaced with the more creative Vladimir Koman.

And the change seemed to work for Hungary, as they scored two goals inside the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half. The first coming from a short corner, after Rudolf’s shot was deflected twice before finding the back of the net. The second, from a Dzsudzsak cross which was thumped home superbly on the volley by Captain Zoltan Gera. An incredible turnaround which no-one could have predicted.

The Dutch seemed stunned at the comeback, and didn’t create any chances of note until the 61st minute when Sneijder inadvertently played a one-two with Krisztian Vadocz’s heel which fell back into the path of the Inter Milan man, who duly did the honours.

Holland now had the momentum, but had to wait 12 minutes until they were back ahead. Ruud Van Nistelrooy scoring a deflected half-volley past the helpless Fulop.

It seemed like Holland would now go on to win at a canter, but that simply wasn’t the case. Dzsudzsak found a bit of room about 40 yards out and played a superbly weighted pass into Gera’s feet, and the Fulham man notched his 2nd of the game to make it 3-3 with just 15 minutes to go.

The scoring wasn’t finished there, as Kuyt netted his first of the game with 12 minutes to go, and then 3 minutes later from a cross that looped over Fulop’s head.

A brave, brave performance from Hungary who possibly deserved more, but the Dutch showed their class in the later parts of the game they keep their 100% record intact. Hungary now have to concentrate on games against Sweden, Moldova, Finland and San Marino. Winning them all is a must, and should put them in a good position to grab 2nd place in the group.

Hungary vs Holland – Preview

This Friday sees the first of back-to-back games between the top two in group E, with the two teams face each other in peak form, after both sides have made impressive starts to their respective qualification campaign. Back in June last year the two nations met in preparation for Holland’s trip to South Africa in what turned out to be Erwin Koeman’s last ever game in charge of the Magyars. Hungary were comfortably beaten 6-1 that day but I expect to see a completely different side to the one that took the field and were beaten so badly. There have been changes right from the top, with Sandor Egervari taking over from Koeman, and he’s brought new life to Hungary. New blood such as Vladimir Koman have performed superbly since Egervari arrived, and that has lead to 5 wins from the last 7 games, only losing to England in London, and Sweden in Stockholm. Holland will also be without Arjen Robben due to injury who was a constant menace that day, wreaking havoc in the Hungarian defence, notching a brace in the process. With both sides main quality being in attack, I expect to see this game full of goals, and a comfortable win for the ‘Oranje’.

Head-to-Head

The record between Hungary and Holland currently stands at; Played 13 – 5 Hungary wins, 6 Holland wins and 2 draws.

1930 – Hungary – Holland 6-2
1933 – Holland – Hungary 1-2
1939 – Holland – Hungary 3-2
1961 – Holland – Hungary 0-3 WCQ
1961 – Hungary – Holland 3-3 WCQ
1966 – Holland – Hungary 2-2 ECQ
1967 – Hungary – Holland 2-1 ECQ
1984 – Holland – Hungary 1-2 WCQ
1985 – Hungary – Holland 0-1 WCQ
1986 – Hungary – Holland 0-1 ECQ
1987 – Holland – Hungary 2-0 ECQ
1994 – Hungary – Holland 1-7
2010 – Holland – Hungary 6-1

Even though the head-to-head seems to be pretty even, the last 5 games have all gone in favour of the ‘Oranje’ which shows how much fortunes have changed for these two great footballing nations.

Form Guide

Hungary’s Last 5 Games: 2-0 vs Azerbaijan (Win), 2-0 vs Lithuania (Win), 2-1 vs Finland (Win), 8-0 vs San Marino (Win) and 2-1 vs Moldova (Win).

Holland’s Last 5 Games: 3-1 vs Austria (Win), 1-0 vs Turkey (Win), 4-1 vs Sweden (Win), 1-0 vs Moldova (Win) and 2-1 vs Finland (Win).

As we can see, both teams have been in superb form in preparation for the game on Friday, both winning their previous 5 games against varying opposition. However Holland do have impressive wins over Sweden and Turkey which make Hungary’s wins against the likes of Lithuania and Azerbaijan seem mediocre at best.

Probable Lineups

Probable Hungary XI: Kiraly – Laczko, Vanczak, Juhasz, Lazar – Elek, Vadocz, Gera, Koman, Dzsudzsak – Rudolf

Probable Holland XI: Vorm – Van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Pieters – N de Jong, Van der Vaart, Sneijder – Kuyt, Afellay – Van Persie

With injuries to Tamas Hajnal, Krisztian Vermes and Adam Szalai who all probably would have started for Hungary, it’s not the situation they’d like to be in facing the World Cup runners-up but with competent replacements in Vanczak, Vadocz and Rudolf, the Magyars shouldn’t be affected too badly. Szalai will be the player missed most. He’s had a superb start to his international career, notching 4 goals in just 6 games but the on-loan Bari striker, Rudolf will certainly provide a threat of his own, already scoring important goals against Juventus and AC Milan this term.

Holland have injury concerns themselves with their number 1 keeper, Martin Stekelenburg having to watch from home, Vorm will deputise. Vorm isn’t quite as reliable as Stekelenburg but is a penalty saving specialist, so that’s something to watch out for. Robben also picked up a knock at the weekend and will miss the game, which is great news for Hungary who were tormented by his jinking runs and long range shooting last time out. Afellay will replace him, and he’ll have something to prove with the thought of a regular starting position at the forefront of his mind. The Dutch captain Van Bommel will also miss the game but Nigel De Jong will provide a like for like replacement.

Players to Watch

Balazs Dzsudzsak – Dzsudzsak will certainly be the man to watch for the Magyars. The left winger has already scored 21 goals and provided 17 assists for PSV this season, and after scoring Hungary’s solitary goal in these two teams last encounter, Holland will know what sort of a threat he carries.

Wesley Sneijder – The Inter Milan man has been in scintillating form since returning from injury in late February and has provided some crucial goals in recent games. However, if Van Der Vaart starts, he might have the same problem as he did in the World Cup, and might not be as effective as if he was playing with two Defensive Midfielders. Still should provide some magic against a vulnerable Hungarian defence.

Prediction

Hungary 0-3 Holland – I can see Holland dominating the game from the off, and grabbing an early goal. Hungary won’t be one of them teams to sit back and play for a 0-0 draw, as they just don’t have the defensive base to be able to do so, so you’d expect to see them attack reasonably often. This will provide Holland with a number of chances to catch the Magyars on the counter attack, and I can see the second goal coming from that route. Hungary don’t quite have the quality in the final third, and that’s why I can’t see them scoring past, an admittedly average, Dutch defence, and will probably capitulate once the second goal is scored.

Les Rosbifs Tournament Team

Hungarian XI – Gabor Kiraly – GK, Zoltan Szelesi – RB, Vilmos Vanczak – RCB, Roland Juhasz – LCB, Zsolt Laczko – LB, Krisztian Vadocz – RDM, Daniel Tozser – LDM, Vlad Koman – ACM, Balazs Dzsudzsak – LAM, Zoltan Gera – RAM , Adam Szalai – ST

Subs – Adam Bogdan, Tamas Kadar, Gabor Gyepes, Tamas Hajnal, Zoltan Stieber, Krisztian Nemeth, Gergely Rudolf

Gabor Kiraly – Playing Gabor Kiraly (of 1860 Munich) in goal is always going to be a risk, especially when he is prone to a horrendous error every so often, but on his day “The King” is absolutely unbeatable and is capable of making some quite frankly ridiculous saves. He also brings a wealth of experience after being capped nearly 80 times for his country, and that’s why he gets the nod of youngster Adam Bogdan.

Zoltan Szelesi – Quite a hard choice for right back with first choice right-back, Pal Lazar ineligible, but Zoltan Szelesi comes straight into the team. Szelesi loves to get forward at every chance, and will definitely offer a threat down the right. Reasonably strong, and very tall he should bring a bit of height to the backline which will help if any Stoke’s are in the competition. Defensively Szelesi is inept and this will be a weakness that other teams will be able to exploit quite easily. A choice between Laszlo Bodnar and Szelesi but Szelesi gets the nod due to his recent performances for club side Olympiakos Volos.

Roland Juhasz – Obvious choice. Anderlecht’s Juhasz is the best defender Hungary have by a country mile. So strong, superb distribution, never loses a header and a huge threat from set pieces. To put it simply Juhasz is the best player this Hungarian team have in any position. So dependable and possesses a great deal of experience. Will most likely captain the side.

Vilmos Vanczak – Another relatively simple choice with Vanczak’s main challenger, Zoltan Liptak, ineligible. Very similar player to Juhasz but not quite a strong and not quite as good in the air. Also left footed and is very good on the ball, and can take the ball out of defence on rare occasions to start an attack. With over 50 caps at the age of just 27 and 4 years playing in Switzerland for FC Sion, the centre back’s been there before and should perform well on the big stage.

Zsolt Laczko – Laczko is the first choice Hungarian left-back and thanks to a winter move to Sampdoria he is now elegible for the Les Robifs tournament. Another full back who likes to get forward so he’ll have to remained disciplined especially against top quality opposition he’ll be facing. With just 9 caps to his name and only 1 sub appearance for Sampdoria, it’ll be interesting to see how he fares on the big stage. He’s extremely good going forward and puts a superb ball into the box but again like Szelesi, he is very vulnerable defensively which doesn’t bode well for the Hungarian defence.

Krisztian Vadocz – Vadocz of Osasuna will play in a holding role for this Hungarian side, attempting to sniff out any opposition attacks and play simple passes to get the attacking game moving. Plying his trade in one of the best leagues in the World, Vadocz knows how to play against the likes of Ronaldo (coming on at half-time for Osasuna in their 1-0 win over Real Madrid) and this will be invaluable when Hungary face stronger opposition as the tournament goes on.

Daniel Tozser – Quite a hard choice this one, but Tozser will get the nod ahead of his competitors. Tozser will accompany Vadocz in a holding role but will likely try to dictate play from a deep-lying playmaker role, spraying balls out to the wings with his superb left foot. With the system being quite a defensive one, Tozser will not be likely to join the attacks, especially when the scoreline remains at 0-0, so he’ll therefore prefer to stay deep and accompany Vadocz for when the play breaks down, making Hungary less vulnerable against the counter. Toszer fits into the role reasonably well, and has big game experience for AEK Athens and Racing Genk. A good solid central midfielder.

Vladimir Koman – Ukrainian born, the Hungarian international has been on fire for his adopted nation, and has put in some very good performances for his club side, Sampdoria. Koman will play as quite an attacking centre midfielder supporting the lone front man. “Vlad” brings a bit of pace to the side, and has an incredible eye for a pass. Some like to call him the “Hungarian Iniesta”, and at 21 he could go on to great things. Fits into the system perfectly and will be a great threat to defenders.

Balazs Dzsudzsak – The PSV man has had a special season in Holland this year, contributing 18 goals and 15 assists in just 35 games in all competitions. An incredible record for a winger. Dzsudzsak will provide natural width for the side and with his shoot on site policy he will always likely to be a threat. He’ll also be able to put a superb cross into the box, and can easily beat a man with his incredible pace and his ability to change direction so fast. One to look out for in the tournament.

Zoltan Gera – The 31 year old wasn’t an automatic pick for the side like he used to be. The Hungarian captain has had a poor season for Fulham, and hasn’t looked that great for the national team since his fallout with ex-boss Erwin Koeman. However, Gera will be another player that will bring a huge amount of experience to the side, and on his day, can pretty much win a game on his own. Very creative, and very good in the air, Gera will likely be used as a 2nd striker or as a right winger to provide a bit of width for the Hungarians.

Adam Szalai – The ex-Real Madrid man has been a revelation for the overachieving Mainz this season, and has scored some important goals for club and country including a notable winner against Bayern back in September. His link up play is absolutely superb. He’s strong, powerful in the air and his willingness to run the channels and harass defenders is second to none. With all these qualities he’s a constant menace for defenders and will be a regular outlet throughout the tournament. He doesn’t score too many goals which is his only weakness but with the creativity that the Hungarian team have in midfield he should get enough opportunities to grab a couple of goals.

Subs:

Adam Bogdan – Great shot stopper but doesn’t quite have the big game experience to be trusted in goal right now. Perhaps the best ‘keeper Hungary currently have. Similar to the Joe Hart situation with England in South Africa 2010.

Tamas Kadar – Quite a solid defender, but still very young and learning his trade. Will hopefully be a great defender for Hungary. Done well at Huddersfield, but hasn’t played much football.

Gabor Gyepes – Can be a superb defender on his day but just makes too many mistakes. Like a bad Titus Bramble. Picked only because we have no other good defenders to put on the bench.

Tamas Hajnal – Hasn’t performed for years for the National Team but his effect on the dressing room will be invaluable, and has a great eye for a pass. Over 10 years of experience playing in the Bundesliga and with nearly 40 caps for Hungary, Hajnal, who seems to be regaining a bit of form for Stuttgart, could make a great impact substitute.

Zoltan Stieber – Not had a chance for the National Team but after his great season so far at Bundesliga 2 side Aachen, you’d be mad to leave him out. Similar player to Balazs Dzsudzsak, but can play a bit more centrally and has better passing ability. Definitely someone to look out for on the bench.

Krisztian Nemeth – Hardly kicked a ball in anger all season since his move to Greece, but with his eye for goal, he’d be a threat for any team once he leaves the bench.

Gergely Rudolf – Probably feels quite harshly done by to only have a place on the bench after a great year for the National Team. Hasn’t played much football since moving to Genoa in the summer, but his loan move to Bari has proved a bit more fruitful. Usually plays as a 2nd striker, or as a winger. Can hold the ball up well, very tricky feet, and is very good at chasing down defenders, just doesn’t score enough goals.

System – This Hungarian outfit will set out in a 4-2-3-1 system. The defenders will play in a simple back four with the two full backs looking to bomb forward at every opportunity. This means that when one of the full backs gets forward Vadocz or Tozser will fill in as cover so Hungary aren’t caught on the break. It will be a rarity that the two defensive midfielders will get forward as Tozser will try to dictate the play from deep and Vadocz will be there to break up any play from the opposition. Koman will play ahead of these two in a central attacking position, playing as a playmaker, playing killer balls and running at defenders. Zoltan Gera will play on the right, but will not hug the touchline like Dzsudzsak. And Szalai will play as a target man up front, using his strength and height to hold the ball up and link play to the more technically gifted players.

2nd Half of the Season Preview – Part 3

MTK

After such a great start to the season, it looked like MTK’s weak squad was much better than everyone had predicted and the glory days could be heading back to the Nandor Hidegkuti Stadion. However, since that great start, things have taken a turn for the dramatically worse and they currently sit in 11th, 5 points above the relegation zone. MTK’s problem this year is that they’ve lost too many games (10 in all, the 2nd highest in the league), and since they lost most of their best players in the summer (as they always do to make profit), they haven’t replaced them at all. It’s quite a sad state of affairs for MTK fans who were champions in 2008 and after winning the league they thought they might go on to bigger and better things but it’s just got much, much worse. The chairman Domonyai let all of the best players go to fill his pocket, that’s why MTK have one of the weakest squads in the league, and don’t sit in a pretty position in NB1.

Causes for Concern?

After such a bad first half of the season, you’d think that Garami (the Head Coach) and Domonyai would bring in some better players to make strides up the table to their rightful position. But that simply hasn’t happened. They’ve got Adam Hrepka back from Vasas who isn’t a great addition, and Richard Frank from Ujpest’s B team. That pretty much sums up the ambition of the club. Another concern for MTK is that their talisman Jozsef Kanta hasn’t performed as well as he has done in previous seasons, and when he doesn’t tick the MTK clock breaks.

Vasas

It’s been another poor season for struggling Vasas who currently sit in 13th place, one point ahead of the relegation zone. The once giants of the Hungarian game have probably turned into more water polo specialists than football over the recent years. The problem with Vasas is their defence as they have conceded 32 goals in 17 games, and the fact that the manager, Komajti, didn’t sign a defender over the winter period is frankly bizarre. One stand out performer this season has been the ex-Barnsley man, Istvan Ferenczi who has been in superb form scoring 8 goals in 12 games. They really need to pick up their away form too, as they have picked up just 2 points from 8 games on their travels.

Causes for Concern?

Obviously their away form and their defence is the main worry for Vasas, and if they can sort out these two things I think the Budapest side can definitely start to make movements up the table. Ex-wonderkid Adam Hrepka didn’t perform for Vasas either, but Vasas have brought a couple of good names in like David Kulcsar from Ferencvaros. However the decision not to bring a defender in might come back to haunt Komajti, and injury to talisman Istvan Ferenczi could destroy their season.

Siofok

Siofok haven’t had things all their own way since being promoted from the NB2-West last year. They currently sit in 15th position (after last weekend’s games), but are level on points with 14th place Haladas and 1 point behind 13th place Vasas. Their squad is a pretty weak one and their main problem this season has been scoring goals. They’ve only managed 14 goals this year in 17 games, and with top scorer Thomas Showumni leaving in the winter, their current strikers only have 3 goals between them. They have however got quite a good goalkeeper in Peter Molnar who has been one of the standout performers this season for Siofok and they’ve also brought in a bit of quality during the break with Csaba Csordas and Atilla Katona joining from KTE and Debrecen respectively. Csordas should bring a few goals, after scoring 11 last season for KTE, and Katona will definitely provide a bit of creativity for the Siofok midfield.

Causes for Concern?

Definitely the problem for Siofok is finding the net, and with the loss of Thomas Showumni to APOP in Cyprus, this will only make things worse. Another problem replacement with Csordas is that he’s only scored one goal this season for KTE, granted he’s only had 3 starts and 10 sub appearances, but will he be able to provide the firepower that Showumni had? I definitely could see a slump for Siofok and that’s why I expect them to go down with Szolnok. Sorry Siofok fans.

Kaposvar

Kaposvar have surprised everyone with their start to the season. They currently sit in 4th position, 2 points behind Ferencvaros in 2nd place, and way ahead of the relegation zone. After a 12th place finish last season, Kapi have been a revelation this season, providing some great attacking football, which has made them one of the most entertaining teams to watch in Nb1 this season and Lorant Olah has been in incredible form this year. The ex-Debrecen man has notched 9 goals in 15 starts in the league, and has been one of the main reasons why Kapi sit so high in the table. They have also had a solid and stable defence by opting for a 5-3-2 formation most of the time. This is usually crucial for a team who don’t have the best quality at the back, but from playing with each other week-in-week out they get used to each other’s style of play and can therefore perform better as a unit.

Causes for Concern?

With one man providing so many goals for the team, this means that some other players aren’t pulling their weight, and that needs to change, especially if Olah’s goals start to dry up or he gets injured. Another problem Kapi have, is that they don’t have a proper number 1 goalkeeper, and switching ‘keeper’s every few weeks isn’t good for the defence who never feel confident when the keeper isn’t the same as the game before. Also with such an inexperienced squad heads might start to drop considerably if losses do start to pile up, and problems could start to arise. This could definitely happen, as Kapi don’t have a great squad but their great team spirit and teamwork has been superb, and that’s why they currently sit in 4th position.

Gyor

Gyor’s season got off to a superb start with an incredible 1-0 away win to Montpellier in the Europa League qualifying, subsequently winning the tie on penalties, providing one of the few great European nights for Hungarian teams. However domestically Gyor haven’t supplied those sort of performances on too many occasions and that’s why they currently sit in 7th, 14 points off the leaders Videoton. Gyor have quite a talented squad, and they have the least number of Hungarians playing for them. The problem for ETO this year is that they haven’t been able to find a proper striking partnership that works, with Bougherra, Nicolas, Aleksidze, Nicorec and Sharashenidze all not standing out and claiming a first team place for longer than 2 or 3 weeks. This means that none of the strikers have got more than 4 goals in the league. However in defence they have been a lot more solid, and have only conceded 20 goals in 17 games.

Causes for Concern

The main cause for concern for Gyor is where the goals will come from. They have a lot of creativity in the squad, but not a lot of goalscorers (Aleksidze is their current top scorer with just 4 goals), and if this continues for the rest of the season, it could put ETO in a precarious position near the bottom of the table. The thing with NB1 being so tight, Gyor currently sit in 7th, but they’re only 6 points ahead of Siofok in 15th, so they’re nowhere near out of the woods yet. However if Gyor can get some goals to go with the solid defence they can definitely fight for a place in the Europa League.

2nd Half of the Season Preview – Part 2

Debrecen

The champions certainly haven’t had things their own way this season sitting in 5th place, 9 points behind league leaders Videoton. Loki’s problem this season has been that they have had to deal with European ties just 3 days before league games, which definitely have affected performances domestically. However now they’re out of the Europa League, the champion’s will definitely start to mount a title challenge. Their squad is almost as good as Videoton’s but it has experience of winning the league before and that could be vital come the end of the season, including key players like Jozsef Varga, Peter Czvitkovics and Peter Kabat who have all been capped by Hungary. They’ve also had a change of manager over the winter break, with Andras Herczeg being replaced by Zdenek Scasny, so a fresh approach will be welcomed by the Loki fans. My favourites for the title.

Causes for concern?

Being so far off top spot will be worrying for the former Panathanaikos manager, Zdenek Scasny. 9 points off the lead is not an impossible task but it’s not an easy one either, and with 3 other teams sitting between them and top spot, it makes it that much harder to retain the title. It’ll also be interesting to see how quickly the Debrecen players will adapt to Scasny’s way of thinking, but with the Loki board acting quickly and appointing him at the end of last year, the friendlies will have certainly helped this matter. Will be very interesting to see how they adjust.

Szolnok

Shocking, shocking, shocking, shocking, shocking. This about as much as I can say for the team promoted from NB2-East last year. There’s always one (possibly two) team(s) that always do a “Derby County” and receive a hammering throughout the season, getting cut adrift from the others before the campaign’s pretty much kicked off. This year it’s the unfortunate Szolnok. They’ve simply been terrible this season and it certainly isn’t nice to see a team muster 8 points from the first 16 games and only score 11 goals. They lack creativity, a solid defence, a good goalkeeper and all round quality. If they can muster 15 points this season it will be an achievement. Doomed to go down.

Causes for concern?

They’re 9 points from safety, rock bottom of the league on 8 points from 16 games with a goal difference of -23. Is there any more I can add?

Kecskemeti

After such a strong end to the year, KTE have provided themselves with a bit of daylight between them and the drop, winning 4 of the last 5 games. Kecskemeti have got a pretty strong team boasting big names like Bela Balogh, Atilla Tokoli and Francis Listingi and the 31 goals they have scored this season is mainly down to the latter two. Tokoli has been in particularly good form for the 2nd top goal-scorers in the league, and even managed to earn himself a national team call-up at the age of 34. However the goals that KTE have been conceding is the main worry for the team from Bacs-Kiskun. They’ve shipped 37 goals in the league this season making them highest in Nb1 for goals against, but if they can sort out their problem in defence they could easily start to progress up the table rapidly.

Causes for concern?

Obviously all of KTE’s problems lie in defence with an inexperienced back-line and no real stability for the players. Also sitting in 12th place in the league, just 4 points from safety will worry (manager) Sivic and his players, especially every time a team playing against KTE go forward they look like they’re going to score. Also with an injury to Tokoli or Listingi, this could see the goals dry up and Kecskemeti could end up favourites to go down.

Lombard Papa

This is Papa’s 2nd consecutive season in Nb1 and since the start of their existence just 15 years ago they’ve had nothing but success. An 11th place finish last season was better than most pundit’s predicted and they’re performing pretty well this season. Currently in 8th place, 6 points off the relegation places – 7 points off a Europa League spot. They’re a very hard working team who don’t have much quality, but they have a superb goalkeeper in Hungarian international, Lajos Szucs who once played for Kaiserslauten. For a team like Papa it’s essential to have such a great base to build on, and the 37 year old has been in fantastic form this season, winning Papa points when no-one thought it possible.

Causes for concern?

They ended the year on a bad run, failing to win in 5 games, losing 4 of them, which is definitely something for Papa fans to worry about. With the loss of top scorer Davide Abwo to Polish side Zaglebie Lubin, this will hurt the side’s whole style of play. Abwo was a tricky forward with a lot of pace and an eye for a goal. A real joy to watch in a league, that doesn’t have much quality in it – if I’m being honest. This means that ex-Barcelona youth player, Goran Maric will have to step up and really fill the void and so far he has provided a few goals for the side – 6 in 13 league games since moving from Segunda Division side, Real Union. But they are quite a free scoring side, and I expect them to finish in a good, solid, mid-table finish come the end of the season.

Honved

It’s been another bad year for Honved who, according to owner George Hemmingway, were going to win the title for the first time in 16 years in 2009. That didn’t quite materialise but they did win the cup to make it 2 wins in 3 years. Putting cup success aside, the last 3 years in the league have been awful campaigns for a team that have had relatively good investment. 2007/2008 saw them finish 8th, the following year they finished 13th, last year they finished 9th and they currently sit in 10th place this season, just 5 points above relegation. However they’ve signed quite a few half-decent players (as they always seem to), including the former Kansas City Wizards/Sporting Kansas City man Zoltan Hercegfalvi who is also a Hungarian international, along with New Zealand international Kris Bright from Shrewsbury and Gellert Invancsics from Siofok (via ZTE).

Causes for concern?

As is always the problem with Honved, will the new players gel into the first team? They’ve signed 8 players during the winter, to go along with the 7 they brought in, in the summer who on the whole, don’t look like good acquisitions. Honved need to get a balanced team and let the players play together before they just move for more names as soon as things start going wrong. This way of thinking has not worked for about 5 years now, and Honved are heading in the wrong direction once again, which was unthinkable when Hemmingway took over back in 2006 and invested in the club well, renovating the stadium and signing decent players right, left and centre.

2nd Half of the Season Preview – Part 1

Yesterday saw the start of the Hungarian Monicomp Liga  so let me run you through how the sides should fair for the rest of the season starting with the leaders Videoton:

Videoton

Vidi’s fantastic start to the season didn’t happen by luck I assure you that. With top players such as Nemanja Nikolic, Andre Alves, Mladen Bozovic and Hungarian internationals, Akos Elek, Pal Lazar and Zoltan Liptak this team is really going places. With the best squad in the league and a great, experienced manager to boot, it’d be a huge surprise if Vidi were to let their 7 point lead at the top of the table slide away.

Causes for concern?

There isn’t much cause for concern for Videoton who have by far the strongest squad in the league, but a couple of injuries to Nemanja Nikolic and the league’s top goalscorer Andre Alves could see the goals dry up and a slide down the table for the leaders. Also complacency could start to kick in with such a big lead just half way through the season, and with a recent Liga Kupa exit to Paks, who knows? Anything could happen.

Zalaegerszegi

ZTE have been punching well above their weight this season, sitting in 2nd place (before yesterday’s games), and that’s mostly down to the great leadership skills of ex-Hungary manager Janos Csank and top goalscorer Prince Rajcomar who has been a revelation this season for ZTE. Atilla Simon has also been on fire from midfield notching 5 goals, but is highly unlikely that they’ll keep up this form till the end of the season. However after an impressive 4-0 away win over Siofok on Tuesday they could just keep up this form till the end of the season.

Causes for concern?

An injury to Prince and ZTE’s season could pretty much be over. A title challenge this year seems a bit too premature to a fairly young and inexperienced team who are already doing much better than most pundits predicted after a 5th place finish last season.

Ujpest

With such a strong squad, the first half of the season for Ujpest was an absolute shocker. Just 3 points above the relegation zone and boasting big names like Tibor Tisza, Krisztián Vermes, Peter Rajczi and teenage sensation Krisztian Simon, Lilak performed way below their level. With such a fantastic squad together with possibly the best fans in the country, you would think would be a recipe for success, but with just 5 wins all season, the 20 time champions could do the unthinkable and drop down to Nb2. There have been a few additions to the club including Jhonnes, a Brazilian defender who has played quite a lot in the Slovenian and Latvian first divisions who could be a good signing.

Causes for concern?

Even though Lilak have replaced them with fairly decent players, the loss of Tibor Tisza and Krisztian Simon with hurt the ‘Purples’ who need to start climbing the table fast. The departure of Tisza won’t affect the way that Ujpest play, but losing Simon certainly will. The 18 year old was the fulcrum of the side and he was usually the only threat they had. Things will have to change a lot after his departure to Dutch giants, Feyenoord. Ujpest have also lost their captain for the rest of the season, Krisztián Vermes who has been superb not only for Lilak but for the Hungarian national team as well. That injury will certainly impact on their fortunes for the 2nd half of the season. I’m sure they’ll stay up though.

Haladas

My team. Well the first half of the season was poor, but that was to be expected from a team who have no decent attackers. The loss of first teamers like Igor Bogdanovic and Skriba and the loan returns of El Hadji Diouf and Peter Halmosi impacted on the side greatly. Adam Simon, the twin brother of ex-Liverpool man Andras Simon has been a standout performer this season for Hali, and with the signing of Peter Halmosi (again), from Hull City, I expect Hali to move up the table fast. Halmosi’s class really should show through, being, I would say, an English Championship level player.  That sort of quality in Hungary NB1 really is something. They’ve also got youngster Skirba back from his loan spell at MTK, who should be able to cause some trouble even though he is still to score his first goal in Hungary.

Causes for concern?

With Hali sitting bottom of the table until a resurgence at the end of last year with 3 wins from 4 games, the team from Szombathely are very much still in trouble, in 15th place (2nd from bottom) and are one point from safety. If Haladas start getting on a losing run and lose Halmosi to injury (God forbid) they could certainly be cut adrift from the teams above them with relegation being a distinct possibility. The squad lacks depth and quality but recent performances in the cup and certain friendlies have given the fans a bit to cheer about, and positives vibes are floating around Szombathely.

Ferencvaros

Fradi have had a good season so far, with problems off the field not affecting the players whatsoever. They have a superb squad boasting internationals such as Andre Schembri, Marek Heinz and Justin Haver and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if they start moving up the table fast, possibly even mounting a title challenge. They’ve also signed a couple of Argentinian youngsters who should bring a bit of flair to the side, and they have an experienced manager in charge, the first Hungarian for 3 years, Laszlo Prukner, after Bobby Davison and Craig Short left, together with an experienced side including Hungarian internationals like Csaba Csizmadia, Denes Rosa and Istvan Rodenbucher. Definitely a team to look out for this spring session.

Causes for concern?

Will the team gel is possibly the only concern for Fradi fans. With such a strong squad it’s possibly their only worry. The team haven’t been together that long, and the manger only arrived back in the summer so I would say that a title challenge this year is a bit premature but with quite a young side, a lot of technical players and several full internationals, this team is definitely going places.


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