Fradi in pole position with OTP Liga restart on horizon
Ferencváros hold a five-point lead after the 18 autumn rounds of the 2018/19 OTP Bank Liga, but reigning champions MOL Vidi - now able to focus wholly on retaining their title after the admittedly pleasant distraction of their UEFA Europa League exploits - will be intent on taking the championship race to the wire.
Top of the league with four wins and a draw from their first five matches, Ferencváros changed manager as Thomas Doll left the club after winning a league title, three cups and one league cup in just over four and a half years in charge. Former Ukraine forward and Dynamo Kyiv head coach Serhiy Rebrov took over, keeping the ship steady as Fradi led the NBI table throughout the autumn rounds, new signing from Honvéd Davide Lanzafame leading the scoring charts with eight goals, Roland Varga bagging six, and Ivan Petrjak and club talisman Dániel Böde chipping in with five. Another notable newcomer for Fradi has been one of the finds of the season Dávid Sigér, the youngster cementing a starting place in the midfield engine room.
MOL Vidi, despite having to play all but their last three home matches at the Pancho Aréna in Felcsút whilst their new MOL Aréna Sóstó was being completed, also dropped crucial points against MTK, Kisvárda and Mezőkövesd following midweek Europa League group-stage fixtures, but signalled their intent to push Ferencváros all the way with a 2-1 victory over their Budapest rivals in the final match before the end of the year, a result which cut Fradi’s lead to five points. Serbian Marko Šćepović scored six goals in the autumn, ably assisted by attacking midfielder Bulgarian Georgi Milanov who has gone a long way to helping Vidi cope with Danko Lazović leaving the club in September.
Four clubs lie closely bunched a few points further behind Vidi in the race for the remaining Europa League places, three points separating third-placed Debrecen and sixth-placed MTK with Honvéd and Újpest sandwiched in between. Debrecen and Honvéd are also in the last sixteen of the Hungarian Cup along with Fradi and Vidi, making it likely that two of these four will secure a European berth.
At the other end of the table, Haladás appear to have the hardest task in escaping relegation having amassed only nine points so far, eight points behind third-bottom Diósgyőr. The Miskolc side seem set to be involved in a relegation dog-fight with Kisvárda who lie just a point behind in the second relegation place, whilst Puskás Akadémia, Paks and Mezőkövesd, despite being a few points ahead of them, cannot afford a bad run of form in the spring. League action resumes on Saturday 2 February, with fifteen rounds left to play before the championship ends on 19 May.