FC Lahti v RoPS
The whole goalkeeper circus in Lahti has culminated to a humiliation of Tomi Maanoja, who’s basically been dropped all the way down as Toni Korkeakunnas’ 4th choice. That’s quite bad for a guy who once was a huge prospect and expected to become an international goalie. Ironically, ill-formed Lahti’s biggest trouble lies on the opposite side of the field – goal scoring. They’ve found the net only three times in previous five league games.
RoPS, on the other hand, is on a nice undefeated streak of five league games. Add to that a hopeful European campaign – a solid 0-2 away win at Shamrock Rovers and a safe 1-1 draw at home – and you have probably the hottest team in Finland. Since captain Antti Okkonen returned from his injury to strengthen the Rovaniemi midfield a renewed European spot is a lot more likely.
Success in Europe comes at a cost though, and the price depends on your budget. Sounds like a paradox, but it’s easily explained. Either you take a risk and invest on a broader squad, hoping for advancement in Europe and perhaps even a good domestic result, or you play it safe and avoid the mistake so many other Finnish teams have made. RoPS are of the latter type, and it could cost them a top 4 spot in Veikkausliiga.
FC Lahti’s most recent wins are from PS Kemi, Inter and PK-35. It’s not an impressive list, so a home win isn’t anything I count on. Meanwhile, RoPS played on Thursday evening EL-qualifications against Croatian NK Lokomotiva. As RoPS rely on a very physical game, their major strength will be on short in Lahti. The home team are yet to find a solution to their scoring difficulties, and RoPS are exhausted.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 1.5 goals at 2.80
Ilves v HJK
Now that half the season has passed, it’s safe to say that Ilves are, once again, a truly solid home team. It’s been all Ws since their defeat against IFK Mariehamn April 29th. And the list of teams they’ve beaten is not bad at all, including strong bronze candidates SJK, VPS, and KuPS.
HJK is also following last year’s pattern, however, to a much bigger extent. While being undefeated on home stadium, they’ve had an awkward away campaign again. Sure, their latest defeat is from the beginning of June at VPS, but right now the blue and white eyes are southwards, towards Europa League.
The previous season was plagued by big signings who found motivational problems early on in the cold climate of Finland. As Japanese-Dutch striker Mike Havenaar left, many sighed of relief, as the biggest flop in years was gone, but to their disbelief homecomer Medo has been just as bad. Fortunate to HJK, they’re not as dependent on Medo as they were on Havenaar.
Ilves has been a tough piece for HJK, especially in Tammela. A natural grass and Ilves’ compact team effort is poisonous for a squad looking forward to the second leg of European League qualifications.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves +0.5 at 1.75
HIFK v VPS
It’s not too late, not at all, but it’s getting unnecessarily tight for HIFK to avoid relegation. They’ve been offered chances to get away from the uncomfortable company of PK-35 and Inter, who just keep on losing. They weren’t bad against KuPS, but it’s a small comfort after a 1-0 loss.
VPS are hot, hot, hot. 4 straight wins, some with modest game, shows great character and a serious candidate for the third spot. The injury list is looking good, too, but the left fullback’s spot is still a cause of pain for VPS gaffer Petri Vuorinen. The defense has avoided risky situations where they can’t escape the opponent’s pressure, and thus kept their own end tight for a good few games, except the slightly goofy goal against PK-35.
The overall look of HIFK’s game has improved since the beginning of the season, but strikers Juho Mäkelä & Pekka Sihvola seriously need to find the net soon enough. The greatly hyped duo hasn’t delivered a single goal since mid-May!
The away side is in a strong form, but something smells very, very fishy about a 5th win in row. They’re known for getting too complacent very fast, and there might be a risk for that, causing insecurity in the defense. Then again, HIFK’s defense is weak for VPS’ style of offense.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals at 2.39
Prices correct at time of writing.
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