FC Lahti v HJK
‘The toothpick man’, Toni Korkeakunnas, should by all means deliver this season as FC Lahti’s coach, or his days are over in ‘Finland’s Chicago’. Incredibly turbulent performances continue to be the trend from last fall, even though chairman Hasse Kalltström has set strict limitations to the budget – to be honest, which chairman in the league has not? – Korkeakunnas can enjoy of the city’s charisma to lure players during off-season, something he definitely could not in MyPa. Taking that under consideration, it’s either his tactics or capability in the transfer market that fails big time.
HJK are one of the few teams, if not the only, that doesn’t have to sit days and nights planning the player budget. Home at Sonera stadium it clearly shows, as it did in their previous home game against Inter. A superb dominance, and even highly criticized midfield prodigy – can we still call a 19 year old that? – put in his best performance so far in the blue and white striped shirt.
Suspended core duo Ivan Slovyev and Jani Tanska are back and bring essential pieces to the defense and offense of the home team. Defensive midfielder and star player Anthony Annan’s injury is prolonged and a return isn’t expected for a good while. Former Olympique Marseille fullback Taye Taiwo has been superior and despite his position, he is at the moment, the best player in Veikkausliiga.
Lahti’s instability has some stability, in the same pattern as HJK. At home Kuhnurit are strong. Butchering both SJK and VPS are good examples. Meanwhile HJK are yet to impress away.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Lahti +0.5 at 1.79
Inter v Ilves
Last years IFK Mariehamn head coach Pekka Lyyski parted his long trip with the Aaland team, which was historical. The Kokkola native’s time with his team was the third longest in Europe at that time. Inter’s dutch gaffer Job Dragtsma isn’t too far from that, which however, is completely insane. Dragtsma’s tactics have been out of date for several years, and no change is in sight for his last season in Turku. The defense, which was their only stronghold in the very first games, has collapsed and the whole team is in ruins.
Away side Ilves are looking good. They have one of the league’s most limited resources but manage to capitalize well. Head coach Wiss recognizes their strengths and weaknesses, and the team knows how to handle them. Ilves are team that play for the result, but at the same time keep producing league players. 6 lads in their previous starting eleven were own products. Simply admirable.
While Ilves barely have injuries, excluding the long-term injured reserve goalie, Inter are getting anxious by scrolling through their list of hurt players. Although last season’s shock signing Jukka Lehtovaara is a solid keeper, his long absence raises some questions about his match fitness. Henrik Moisander, the other goalie, is ruled out, as is Oskari Qvick and the important midfielder Philip Njoku. Most important absentee is center back Pape Habib Sow.
Inter are nearing a slippery slope with a hurt defense and the guests aren’t coming to Veritas to have fun, but to clinically grab 3 points. Ilves away form and offensive inefficiency gives good value for an under bet.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 1.5 at 2.75
KuPS v SJK
Home side KuPS are in surprisingly beautiful form. 4 wins in 5 previous games places the Savonian team in a 4th position in the league table. If the form is beautiful, then the game certainly is not. To be fair though, the changes Rajamäkis has made have improved KuPS’ game significantly, but I wouldn’t say they are really there yet to be considered a stable and strong side.
Even the visiting team SJK has picked up their game after a seriously rough start. A late goal by Estonian winger Tarmo Kink gave his team a home win against HIFK. It’s a fair question whether it was a just win, considering how neither team managed to get a grip of their game throughout the 90 minutes. However, the differences on individual level turned the margins for SJK’s favor.
Media favorite Alexey Eremenko Jr. left the champions super fast, but won’t be missed. However, injured fullback Richie Dorman has left quite the shoes for Penninkangas to fill and defensive midfielder, Chievo Verona man Perparim Hetemaj’s brother, Mehmet are still ruled out. For the home team own product Nissilä’s return pleased their fans and goalkeeper Johannes Kreidl’s improved performances earned him a call to the Austrian U21-team.
KuPS form isn’t exactly just in my opinion, but their game is in far better shape than SJK’s. SJK still has a lot work on in their collective game, and unless one of their stars gives us a show, KuPS won’t be leaving with empty pockets.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: KuPS +0.25 at 1.74
Prices correct at time of writing.
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