MTK Budapest top the Hungarian table on goal difference alone with two games to go, and could be celebrating a 23rd title success with a victory on Monday.
The race for the Hungarian title has been far closer than anybody in Hungary expected. Debreceni VSC's three-season monopoly of the 1. Liga title showed that the days when Budapest set the nation's footballing agenda were over, but while many expected to see Győri ETO FC, Újpest FC or even Budapest Honvéd FC provide their main challenge, it is an ambitious young MTK side that tops the table.
MTK and Debrecen are level on 60 points at the top of the table, but the Budapest side lead the rankings by virtue of a better goal difference: plus 38 to DVSC's plus 36. The fixture list has also dealt József Garami's side a strong hand in their final two games of the season, which means that should they win against Rákospalotai EAC on Monday, the title could well be theirs.
Debrecen play Paksi SE in their penultimate game of the season on Friday, and should they drop points, a win for MTK against REAC would effectively give them the title, since their last game of the season on 1 June was scheduled to be against FC Sopron. Sopron were expelled from the top flight in the winter, with all of their remaining fixtures being awarded as 3-0 wins to their opponents.
With morale arguably a little low after they lost to FC Fehérvár in the two-legged Hungarian Cup final, the odds are tipped solidly against Debrecen. Even if they beat Paks on Friday, should REAC lose to MTK, they will have to win by a substantial margin in their final game at home against third-placed Újpest to eclipse MTK. Realistically, they need MTK to drop points on Monday.
'Not over at all'
However, while the fates seem to be conspiring against his side's ambitions, Debrecen president Gábor Szima believes his team can still prevail. "I think the title race is not over at all," he said. "Even if MTK win against REAC, I think Debrecen are a side that can beat their opponents resoundingly when they have to." Fans in the east of Hungary can only hope there is some truth in that belief.
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