HJK v IFK Mariehamn – The Empire strikes back
A simply embarrassing 2015 with a last minute exit in Europa League qualifiers and a bitter third place in the league gave Finnish giants HJK a hard lesson. Coach Mika Lehkosuo has admitted that switching two thirds of the squad was perhaps too much, which seems a bit ironic, considering how much the squad has once again changed.
Visitors IFK Mariehamn have also gone through a change, although we are yet to see how big it actually will be. Pekka Lyyski ended his 13 year long spell with the islanders by finally bringing some silverware home. The cup champions have a tough season in front of them, as Lyyski’s second man Peter Lundberg takes over in charge with Kari Virtanen. The European qualifiers in July might be too much for the small squad.
Despite an embarrassing loss away in Malmö a week before the league premier, HJK are starting the season having had a much better winter. The islanders haven’t impressed in a single match this off-season. Losing star player Petteri Forsell to Poland and first goalie Otso Virtanen to Germany, shook the ground of IFK’s game.
Quality and quantity; Basically that was the slogan for HJK even last year, but this time the squad seems to be a lot more sensible. Home game for a hungry HJK shouldn’t leave a question about the winner.
Asian Handcap Betting Recommendation: HJK -0.75 at 1.69
PK-35 Vantaa v RoPS – Will Kuqi’s troops have a rumbling start?
The Flying Finn Shefki Kuqi took over PK-35 last year in Ykkönen, the second highest tier. A team with financial problems and a coach with short temper weren’t exactly bookmakers’ favorites for promotion, but an extremely even season in Ykkönen ended with two surprising promotions.
Not only the home team had a surprising good last season. Visitors RoPS’ grabbed their first medal in decades finishing second in Veikkausliiga. The Lapponians lost key midfielder Moshtagh Yaghoubi abroad and midfield leader Antti Okkonen for a season long injury. Captain Okkonen’s injury came in the last off-season match, lowering severely the expectations on RoPS’ season.
Coach Kuqi brought his brother Njazi to Vantaa for this season. Although his previous seasons have been rather modest, together with Ipswich icon Pablo Couñago he’s posed to form one of the league’s most lethal striker duos.
Although RoPS have quality in players like Jammeh, Saksela, Pirinen and Kokko, the loss of last year’s midfield trio will at least in the beginning be drastic. Juuso Hämäläinen, who came from Inter Turku, hasn’t impressed at centre back.
A home team with a highly potential striking force and a bit shaky away defense serves a good chance for a few goals.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 at 2.49
Цены правильные на момент написания.
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