FC Inter v IFK Mariehamn
Inter have entered its last season with head coach Job Dragtsma. So far the defensive line has been its strength, as a matter of fact it’s arguably the best in Veikkausliiga. The defenders have even taken the offensive players’ responsibilities, as the attackers have failed in their main task – goal scoring.
The islanders were top of the league but lost their spot to HJK. The goalless draw at home against PK-35 was an unbelievably poor exhibition by a league leading squad. With such a tight match schedule it’s hard to blame anyone for instability, but strikers Dever Orgill and Diego Assis have cooled down slightly from a marvelous start.
Inter are trying to break out from a negative trend, losing three times and drawing once in their previous 5 matches in all competitions. Scoring goals is a real struggle for the Turku side. 1 goal in their previous four matches and the inefficient Guy Gnabouyou gets to start game after game. Understandably the fans are frustrated with the Frenchman and their coach.
Neither side is having the time of their life when it comes to scoring. I’m expecting a tight battle, but IFK are slightly underestimated here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: IFK M +0.5 at 1.65
FC Lahti v SJK
Lahti went as underdogs up north and had to pay a huge price for one goalless point. Their defensive lock Jani Tanska got an early red card and striker Kalle Multanen got injured only a couple minutes after that. As if that wasn’t enough, Zenith-loanee Ivan Solovev took a direct red card halfway through the 2nd half.
Are SJK what Leicester will look like next year? No, I don’t think Leicester’s drop will be that harsh, also, SJK will still rise to the top 4. Sure, their defense is still very much questionable, but all in all, I’m convinced that a lot of the problems were caused by one single player – Alexey Eremenko jr. From the very first moment the rumors started, I thought this was a doomed signing. The attacking midfielder is notorious for spreading negative atmosphere when he feels like it.
So, Lahti are missing a big piece from their defense and one of their two creative offensive players. Sounds bad, but considering Lahti it really isn’t. The team’s strength and weakness is the fact that they lack a star player, someone who’d make a difference, someone with clutch. They’re never dependent on one player, but then again there’s no one who can turn the tides in their favor when needed.
Previous clashes have been extremely poor on goals. Tanska’s suspension makes a minor impact but SJK’s offense is so inefficient. Speaking of clutch players, I believe this match has it in Roope Riski.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 1.5 at 2.48
HIFK v RoPS
Helsingfors IFK’s trip to Vaasa against VPS was horrible. A 3-1 defeat was a poor performance and two new names extended their injury list: Ville Taulo and Pauli Kuusijärvi. Striker Ville Salmikivi, fullback O-P Jurvainen, and midfielders Emil Conti and Eero Peltonen were injured from before.
RoPS, just as IFK Mariehamn, are a good team whose play is seriously bothered by a tight match schedule. In contrast to IFK M, the high match frequency has started to leave its marks just recently. Malinen’s lads had a fair amount of chances against a Lahti who had 2 players sent off, but couldn’t capitalize. Their new Spanish goalie Reguero surprisingly made his debut already in the previous game, and despite a short time with the team, made a good impression.
The hyped midfield-talent Fredrik Lassas returned from FC Köln’s reserve squad to HIFK against VPS. He was subbed in after an injury but looked completely lost out in the field. If HIFK are expecting him to be a difference maker in the midfield, I think they are very wrong.
RoPS are significant favorites in my books especially as HIFK’s injury list is painfully long, whereas RoPS have only captain Okkonen sidelined.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: RoPS +/- 0 at 1.96
Prices correct at time of writing.
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