When the penultimate round starts in Veikkausliiga, we have a rather traditional scenario in the table; HJK are already champions, a few clubs are fighting over the European qualifying spots and on team is desperately trying to escape relegation qualifiers. The rest of the teams are just there, for no purpose.
Ilves v PS Kemi
In the midseason, Ilves looked like a strong candidate to finish just outside of the top four once again. A series of low-scoring draws was a result of a weirdly timid tactic by coach Jarkko Wiss. Even in their bastion at Tammela, Ilves played over the top securely.
Towards the end, it looks like Wiss choice is paying itself back. They have only one defeat from their previous 15 league games, which per se doesn’t ensure a high finish in the table, but has saved them energy and gained them in longevity. Comparing to FC Lahti, who has run a long while now as a favorite in each matchup and expected to steer the game too, Ilves has rarely been absolute favorites, however, remained the chance of out-tiring the opponent.
The guests from North have had little to joy about since the Slovenian striker Filip Valenčič was sold to becoming champions HJK. Midfielder Rasmus Karjalainen has had his breakthrough season but has been anything but a cornerstone in the crucial October fixtures.
Kemi’s 4-0 defeat at HIFK was a catastrophe and a symbolic one. Both clubs are balancing on the thin line between bankruptcy and survival, however, it’s started to show more in the positive light recently for HIFK. Coach Åhman’s tricks are depleted for the season, but if they manage to stay for another season, I’m sure he can pull out another few rabbits of his hat.
In this matchup, Ilves are the obvious favorites, which the odds very rightfully also indicate. A bigger home win is a good shot to take since only JJK have conceded more goals than Kemi. Although Ilves total goal tally isn’t exactly admirable, they are capable of sealing the deal in this match.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves -1 at 1.880
VPS v FC Lahti
Ever since Lahti completely annihilated Inter away in Turku by 6-1 Lahti and Toni Korkeakunnas have found themselves in a goal scoring pickle. They’ve found the back of the net only twice in the four previous games, which has given only a single point.
Jari Litmanen’s former club has had a wonderful season, especially their strikers have put up an amount of goals that only a few clubs can match in Veikkausliiga. Macedonian Marko Simonovski has taken a huge leap forward from the early season when it felt like he missed every scoring chance he got. Add Stenio’s nine goals to Simonovski’s 13 and August signing, Estonian international, Henri Anier’s five goals in a dozen matches and you really have a scary offense.
Against a VPS that probably doesn’t even care if they won’t win a single game for the rest of the season, meaning their last win would be from July 16th. Thanks to the previous rounds results, VPS secured a spot in Veikkausliiga 2017. Additionally, the core of the squad has already extended their contracts, and those without are most likely anyhow leaving.
While FC Lahti has a lot at stake – challenging for a podium finish and at the very least securing the fourth position to play in the EL qualifications next summer, VPS has only dignity and honor in the game. Nothing says me that VPS would get an even a draw from this fixture.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: FC Lahti -0.25 at 2.030
FC Inter v HJK
Another horrendous season for Inter got a sad turn when club icon Henri Lehtonen announced his retirement. The fullback/left midfielder grew up in the Inter stands as a supporter and served long as a captain for his beloved team. What made his retirement announcement so tragic was his peak at the rest of the squad, which, according to him, hadn’t done all it could this season.
Which, in all objective honesty, sounds credible and reasonable. The material was supposed to take the club back to the podium. Instead, Inter secured safety from relegation in the previous round with a late win against HIFK. Despite 4-1 being the result, the winning goal was scored late and HIFK had their chances to grab even a win.
Meanwhile, HJK secured their first title after a two-year hiatus a few rounds ago. A casual eleven games long winning streak is exactly what HJK is about and should have been about the two previous seasons, too.
Now that all is good in the blue and white empire, Lehkosuo has presented some rather unorthodox troops, which have been heavily oriented towards offense. The lineup against FC Lahti was bonkers but hilarious to watch and quite efficient as well.
HJK beating podium-aspiring rivals FC Lahti 3-0 just for the laughs is quite the statement, which indicates that we’ll see a show in Turku as well. It doesn’t mean that HJK will run over their hosts like a bulldozer, but a high goal tally should be a guarantee.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 3.5 at 2.350
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