PK-35 Vantaa v SJK
I can’t really say which team is in deeper waters: PK-35 who stroll from one heated and idiotic reaction to another, or titleholders SJK who are yet to grab a point after 4 games. It will be an anxious game and I hope both teams’ medics have antidepressants in their bag, just in case.
Ipswich icon Shefki Kuqi got himself a reputation as a notoriously heated coach in no time. Add some Spanish players – although skillful – and your tea water is close to boiling over. The appointment was a well-known risk everywhere in Finland, and thus far it’s taken its toll. Njazi Kuqi’s supension is far from being over, captain Kim Raimi is still a doubt as is midfielder Carlos Portela.
SJK’s start to the season was rough, but not too unusual for a team that broke a long streak of titles. However, it seems that their only win – which got overruled to a defeat due to unlicensed players – killed the morale. When bottom-tipped Ilves won 0-2 at SJK, many were ready to announce a new champion. Centre back Abdoulaye Meïte received a red card and is therefore suspended. Defensive midfielder Mehmet Hetemaj and fullback Timo Tahvanainen are still injured.
PK-35 Vantaa held out well until the very last moments against RoPS, whose offense was supposed to tear apart a badly wounded red and black defense. SJK have a lot to sort out, not the least in offense.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals at 1.78
PS Kemi v HJK
A good few of the match-ups between HJK and other league teams could be titled as David versus Goliath, but this one’s really like Goliath facing David’s dwarf sibling. An even bigger contrast was set up in HJK’s previous cup-tie against AC Kajaani.
Lapland’s smaller team PS Kemi have started the season with surprisingly good performances with a less surprising amount of points. Kemi’s collective defense is tight for the most part but their counter-attack lacks efficiency. A goalless draw at HIFK pleased the newcomers, however full points wouldn’t have been far too unrealistic either.
HJK made a rather uninspiring trip to the Åland isles, also drawing 0-0. In their defense, IFK Mariehamn have made a huge improvement from their league premier, which HJK won easily 2-0. HJK clearly know themselves better than last year and are more likely to just do the job when required. Midfielders Vincent Onovo, Anthony Annan and Toni Kolehmainen are all unlikely to play.
HJK will travel to Oulu and do their job, as simple as that. The grass at Raatti is far form perfect condition yet – don’t at like you’re surprised – which will be a small obstacle for Klubi.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals at 1.85
Ilves v IFK Mariehamn
Natural grass pitches are soon to be rarities in Veikkausliiga, as several teams have turned to or are turning to artificial turf due to the depressing climate of Finland. These two sides however are going to roll the ball on grass even in the future.
Ilves are looking forward to their home premier even more than usual thanks to two vital away wins. The previous one against SJK was more than impressive. Mika Hilander showed that he’s one of the league’s best – if not the best – goalkeepers even this season. Last year Ilves were known for great home form and few goals, and at least the latter isn’t expected to change.
IFK Mariehamn also had a good start, losing points only to league leaders HJK. Their goalless draw home against HJK – despite having 7 players on field who played 120 minutes a few days before – proved that they are strong candidates for a medal. After Otso Virtanen left abroad Walter Viitala has taken over the role as first-choice keeper with respectable performances. Fullback Albin Granlund is ruled out.
Tammela isn’t exactly known to be a stadium where the audience gets to enjoy goals. IFK Mariehamn have two skillful strikers in Diego Assis and Dever Orgill, but Ilves can stifle anyone.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 1.5 goal at 2.65
Prices correct at time of writing.
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