In the midst of European challenges, VPS looked like a serious title candidate and a safe bet to finish in the top 2. However, the solid three wins out of four European games caused a serious hangover for VPS, who’ve drawn all three games since. Meanwhile, FC Lahti has gained points to close the gap to only one point between them and VPS. The table is intensely tight between the second and eighth positions. But it’s not a good sign.
FC Lahti v Inter
FC Lahti is on a 13-game long unbeaten run, which has positioned them third in the table. However, only five of these games have been victorious, which is the common problem I’d like to address in Veikkausliiga. Not losing at the cost of not winning that often either shouldn’t be worth a podium finish.
As Inter’s owner Stefan Håkans (finally) had enough of Shefki Kuqi’s circus in Turku, which included firing his staff without asking the board’s permission, Inter, with the former assistant coach taking the charge, is now a lot hotter pick for a podium finish.
Piccaretta made some quick, although perhaps rather obvious, changes in Inter. Removing former West Ham and Real Madrid midfielder Julien Faubert and Shefki’s little brother Njazi Kuqi from the starting line-up made the collective more united and the general atmosphere on the pitch better. The players looked actually like they knew what they were doing for the first time this whole season.
Lahti will most likely keep their number of defeats very low until the season ends, but at the cost of an insanely high number of draws. Fabrizio Piccareta’s Inter is undervalued in this matchup, given the chance they’ll avoid a loss.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Inter +0.5 at 1.757
RoPS v IFK Mariehamn
Thanks to a (nearly?) historically poor JJK and a barely better HIFK, RoPS and IFK Mariehamn’s 7 respective 5 games long winless streaks have gone sub radar for the rest of the nation. While it’s anything but a surprise that RoPS have such a streak this year, IFK should really start questioning what’s going on.
An absolutely shameful performance versus Legia Warsaw in Champions League qualifiers was praised by IFK coach Peter Lundberg, which seemed odd at the time, and seems even odder now. The DIY-psychology didn’t pay off, resulting in two draws and a catastrophic 6-2 loss at Lahti.
Mariehamn hasn’t either made any signings, which they could have a lot of help of an offense and most importantly between the posts. Estonian Andreas Vaikla is, in my opinion, the second to worst starting goalkeeper in the league. The former IFK Norrköping goalie has cost Mariehamn a load of points and the trust of his defensemen.
Meanwhile, RoPS made a great addition in Charlie Trafford, who brings some sass to the midfield. Trafford was excellent during his previous Veikkausliiga stint in KuPS.
Sure, both teams, especially RoPS, have their fair share of occasional over 2.5 games, but in this exact matchup, I feel like there is good value in an under bet. The visitors have a wacky goalie and the hosts’ midfield defends impressively poorly. However, neither team’s offense convinces me. Wouldn’t count on a too high xG-value.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 at 1.770
SJK v HJK
At the first glance, SJK is on quite the roll in Veikkausliiga; four wins and a draw in the last five games is a respectable record. However, looking at the fixtures the opponents haven’t been much of opposition. Only the 1-0 home win against KuPS is something I hold high in value.
Nevertheless, four wins in a row are valuable no matter whom those wins came against (RoPS, JJK & PS Kemi the other three) in a league where seemingly everyone is just trying to tie their way to the podium.
However, when you place that record against HJK’s 14 games long unbeaten streak, which includes 9 wins, it kinda looks like temporary glory. I questioned HJK’s mental strength and general quality in the preview against local rivals HIFK, and I was wrong.
Despite that, it doesn’t mean HJK are on the level they should be. The league is just even worse than what it has been the two previous years when we saw two historically weak champions. It’s just that this year, there seriously is no one even close to HJK.
SJK may or may not fight their way to a top 3 finish, despite the horrible start to the season, and thanks to poor table rivals. Nonetheless, they don’t have the quality to beat HJK, and I wouldn’t be surprised if SJK takes a defensive approach to this game. Which, spoiler alert, barely ever works against HJK.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: HJK -0.5 at 1.909
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