KuPS v Ilves – A safe away trip for Ilves?
Last year’s number 8 travels to Kuopio to face last year’s number 9. Whilst Ilves were happy to land on a safe 8th spot far away from a relegation threat, hosting side KuPS were a huge disappointment. The Savonians had a cheeky marketing campaign for the start of the season including the signing of Freddy Adu, which gained international media attention.
A lot has changed since in Kuopio. Solid goalie Tomi Maanoja left for FC Lahti and a few names from the defensive line. Their midfield relies this year on the injury prone Petteri Pennanen and goals are heavily expected from the Nigerian national Gbolahan Salami. A somewhat mysterious and odd mix coach Rajamäki has gathered, to say the least. Fullback Hamed Coulibaly’s season is most likely already over due to an injury.
Even Ilves has experienced a lot of change. Rookie coach Jarkko Wiss took over his hometown’s team and managed to lure Finnish champion Pavle Milosavljevic from SJK to his back line. Midfield anchor Marco Matrone came from the same club, while fullback Felipe Aspegren arrived from the relegated KTP. It’s fair to say that with an inexperienced head coach and too few signings, Ilves are rightfully relegation favorites in the Finnish media. Matrone made a recent return to training and is unsure for the season premier.
KuPS have had a tough time against Ilves losing four in a row. KuPS’ offense hasn’t impressed yet and Ilves doesn’t have the quality on top. Two of Ilves’ victories against KuPS came with a late 1-0 goal.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 1.5 at 2.75
PK-35 Vantaa v HIFK – Redemption time, PK-35?
Newly promoted PK-35 took a rumbling start for sure, but not in the way they hoped. Shefki Kuqi’s men went from winning 3-0 with 53 minutes played to a 3-4 loss at home against RoPS.
Last year’s newcomers HIFK lost talents Fredrik Lassas and Youness Rahimi in the silly season, however, neither of them had a big role in gaffer Honkavaara’s philosophy. Instead, Honkavaara brought two interesting names to Helsinki; midfielder Xhvedet Gela from FC Lahti and Juho Mäkelä from VPS, who scored 16 goals for a poor club last year. Gela is, however, ruled out with an injury.
Kuqi’s challenge this weekend is to create offensive chances against HIFK who tend to lie low in the first half. Last week RoPS offered counter-attacks for PK-35, which gave the newcomers’ their 3-0 lead. Most likely the unstable defense of PK, who are possibly without captain Raimi, will be again the weak spot for the home team.
The stubborn man from Kosovo won’t give up easy on his strategy, despite last week’s nightmare. Even though HIFK might lie low for the first 45, its defense isn’t too impressive.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 at 2.09
PS Kemi v SJK – Cup repeat up North
Reigning champions from Seinäjoki went up North to grab a penalty win against PS Kemi in the national cup on Tuesday. The rainy turf combined with a feisty defense from the promoted club was a big no-no for SJK.
Home side PS Kemi rely heavily on a repeated disciplined performance in defense, with a small hope of a goal from either captain Billy Ions or former SJK Serb Sasa Jovovic. The red and blue are expected to fight for survival, as Kemi is so distant to everyone else but fellow Lapland-side RoPS.
Head coach Simo Valakari brought some more players to prepare his side for the hot summer with Champions League qualifications. Especially the midfield quality is stunning, but the champions played a poor silly season in defense. Center back Zeljko Savic joined Saturday’s opponents, and a few other center backs left the club too. The 35-year old Abdoulaye Meite made huge impact last time he played in Veikkausliiga, but that was a good few years ago.
Hosts’ striker Christian Eissele and center back Kalle Taimi are ruled out. SJK have a few more injury woes; fullbacks Richie Dorman and Emil Lidman, midfield anchor Mehmet Hetemaj and most likely fellow midfielder Matej Hradecky all out.
Despite their somewhat shaky defense and struggles in offense on Tuesday, Valakari and his lads are expected to have learnt a good lesson from the cup match.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: SJK -0.5 at 1.90
Prices correct at time of writing.
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