The scheduling process of Veikkausliiga is difficult to understand. Each year they make the same mistakes of placing too early games for teams that play on natural turf and don’t have a proper stadium for exile. And then there’s the months of June and July, the ultimate 60 days for football in Finland, but guess what – the amount of scheduled matches is at the lowest. Sure the Euros are on, but it doesn’t bother us in Finland that much, as we didn’t qualify. More football under the summer sun, please!
Inter v SJK
Besides the two 1-0 home wins against Ilves and the absolute trash of a team called HIFK, Inter has lost 8(!) of their 10 previous games. Job Dragtsma left the sinking ship, literally admitting that he couldn’t do a thing to save it any longer, and with Wallenius as the leader, Inter seem to be stuck in the bottom three with PK-35 and HIFK.
SJK had a fascinating match last round when they had their premiere at the new stadium against HJK. Interesting enough, the fans didn’t actually care that much about the defeat because they were too awed by the amazing facilities at OmaSP. Seriously though, they lost 2-1 to 2-3, and the fans didn’t take it that hard? Come on.
It was in fact the players who looked to take the defeat the worst, collapsing to the ground after the final whistle or just shaking their head. They certainly turned it into positive energy, as they beat second-tier team Haka in the cup semi by 1-6. That big of a win is in fact very rare in Finland even in match between teams from two separate tiers.
Valakari has the luxury of enjoying of a healthy squad that is one of the broadest in the whole country. Even though they lost the game they should’ve won in order to even remotely get back to the title race, SJK has proven that their season is finally on for real. I have a hard time seeing Inter suddenly turning into defensively fierce and offensively sassy team against SJK.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: SJK -0.5 at 2.19
VPS v Ilves
This will be the last time VPS will enjoy their special home advantage, which is brought by Kaarlen Kenttä’s horrifying pitch, before they move to the renovated Elisa stadium. Every single team, even VPS, has complained about the pitch quality, but as a home team VPS knows exactly how horrible it is. Although it most certainly does not suit coach Vuorinen’s philosophy, it has proved be a helpful advantage a few times.
On the other hand, Ilves has played on a bad turf, too. Tammela’s soil was far from ready even though Ilves got to kick off their home season later than all the rest. At this point it is in a way better shape than Kaarle, but they aren’t exactly foreign to a bouncy half-sand-half-grass pitch.
Kaarle was (is?) still in such bad shape that VPS were forced to move the game against PK-35 from two weeks ago to July, because of rain and an American football game. That’s by the way a bad combo for grass, really bad. So, VPS’ previous match was in fact against Ilves in Tammela. The visitors had one game between in Rovaniemi, where they lost 1-0 to RoPS.
Midfielder Sebastian Strandvall is still waiting for his permit from Iran, Veli Lampi is getting close to a return and Jerry Voutilainen is back in shape. Only the fullback situation is still a bit shaky for Vepsu, whilst Ilves have no new injuries or suspensions. Paul Emile Tendeng is hotter than Will Grigg, but I see VPS learning their lesson last time and with rested legs get a home win.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS -0.5 at 2.25
FC Lahti v PS Kemi
The frustration among fans in Lahti has gone so far that they’d rather see a former cross-country skiing coach, who is banned for life from all sports due to a doping scandal, to replace Toni Korkeakunnas as their coach. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if his preparation for this match has been a party with sauna and lots of booze on the Midsummer weekend. Seriously, it is a possibility since the team spirit probably wasn’t too high after a 0-3 loss to bitter rivals HJK in the cup semis.
The rising time of newcomers PS Kemi might have seen its end. They’ve lost two in a row now, although one of them was away at IFK Mariehamn, a really strong home team. The noteworthy defeat came at home against RoPS in the Lapland derby. Losing the derby especially at home might have shaken the positive atmosphere in the Kemi squad.
Kemi relied on their defense for a good part of the season and their star striker Billy Ions’ goals. The latter is too little to put so much on and the former has started to fail. FC Lahti has really lacked positivity this season, but their two younglings Jasse Tuominen and Mikko Kuningas alongside Russian loanee Ivan Solovyev have really stood out.
On the other hand there’s Lahti goalkeeper Tomi Maanoja, who’s had a really shaky season. Incredible mistakes incredibly often have cost Lahti too many points. With some insecurity here and there I see a good chance for goals.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 at 2.23
Prices correct at time of writing.
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