Ilves v TPS Turku
Ilves has been, once again, a potent team under Jarkko Wiss despite losing key players during the offseason. Albeit no individual has filled any of the departed roles fully, the results thanks to a healthy variability in the squad has given the Tampere club a prospecting start to the season.
However, at Kemi, where the home side played its first game of the season at their actual home turf, Sauvosaari, Ilves showed some atypical signs of arrogance or lack of discipline. A cheap and early goal from Marius Noubissi, which Kemi goalkeeper Oskari Forsman should have caught, gave Ilves a tad too much comfort. Kemi is a poor side, and once in lead, it is easy to hold on to it.
Instead of an easy cruise to another victory, Kemi hit the framework and a better team would have at least equalized. It was not until Iiro Järvinen’s fantastic dribble in a counter-attack that gave the 2-0 goal by Lauri Ala-Myllymäki when Ilves could finally feel secure with three points.
Home at Veritas stadium, TPS faced their fellow promotees Honka. Their visitors offered a golden chance to a first home victory with their possibly weakest performance thus far. Unfortunate for TPS, their game was similarly their worst.
TPS obvious lack of proper league strikers combined with a mediocre start to the season by other key offensive figures has resulted in 0 goals in 4 home matches. Interesting enough, they’ve scored 8 goals in 4 away matches.
However, it has only resulted in one win, which came in the Turku derby against a then very weak Inter. Away at Tammela, Ilves is a very tough wall to break through, and considering the home side’s good record at Tammela, I see much value in a home win.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves -0.50 at 2.060
Inter Turku v RoPS
Cup champions Inter faced Veikkausliiga champions HJK for the third time in a month, losing this time. After a solid goalless draw in the league home match and a glorious 0-1 win at Telia 5G in the cup final, the 3-0 defeat was demoralizing.
Although HJK made their best match so far this season, especially in the second half after what looked like a halftime where HJK gaffer Lehkosuo told his lads just to do whatever they want, Inter might have a hard time motivating themselves too much more than keeping a minimal distance to the bottom duo.
The reason that this defeat was so demoralizing is the fact that the only thing that had worked for Inter so far this season was completely demolished by a far superior HJK. Now I am not sure how they will get more positive results. Glad I am not Mister Piccareta.
Last round RoPS had a well-deserved rest and signed a new striker, Central African Yateke Sterling. His talent is yet to be proven but is worth a shot at top. Macedonian Filip Ivanovski has not been a complete tourist, however, he lacks the quality to be a starting striker week in and out if RoPS aspire a top three finish.
Last Friday at Lahti, RoPS were lacking winger Agnaldo Moraes due to a hand injury, winger/striker Simo Roiha, and the midfield colossus Wato Kuaté. The injury statuses are still unsure but with a week’s rest, the remaining squad is capable enough to survive without the trio if it were to be so.
RoPS intense football after a proper rest will be a tough challenge for Inter, who might just be longing for the international break in June. The value for RoPS is immense here, possibly one of the best bets of the season.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: RoPS -0.50 at 3.330
SJK v IFK Mariehamn
The flying circus of Raimo Sarajärvi, also known as Seinäjoen Jalkapallokerho, or shortly put SJK, presented their sixth head coach since the start of 2017. After sacking title-winning Simo Valakari a month before last season started, SJK have gone through a lot less successful coach appointments.
Tommi Kautonen, and especially the three years long contract, was highly questionable from the very beginning, and the sacking came as no surprise. However, the main issue for SJK does not seem to lie in coaching, although it has been problematic. Instead, it is the organization itself that seems to be in a critical state.
Appointing former FF Jaro head coach Alexey Eremenko sr. after a failure in Kazakhstan is probably the correct solution but something had to be done. To be honest, I am not sure if even the likes of Guardiola or Sarri could make much out of SJK this season.
The lack of wide midfielders is astonishing and clearly a big reason why SJK’s offense is so lackluster, and IFK Mariehamn will graciously defend against this SJK.
One of SJK’s few strengths this season has been set pieces, which also happens to be their guests’ specialty. Mariehamn is by far stronger in this field, and I think they, although weak in several other parts, are competent enough to get a positive away result.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: IFK Mariehamn DNB at 3.050