SJK v VPS
The other derby of this fixture isn’t nearly as glorious and hyped. One of the reasons is SJK’s horrible start and another being SJK’s new stadium which is waiting to be finished. Also, as VPS grabbed a suprising home win against RoPS, it is not as loaded with anxiety as expected.
Home team SJK’s form has turned to a more positive one, but still leaves a lot more to hope for. In their previous game KuPS defended with discipline but that doesn’t justify the lack of created scoring chances by SJK. One of coach Valakari’s problems is the inconsistency every player possesses. They’re yet to play a good match as a complete team. Fullbacks Tahvanainen and Dorman are close to a return and new signing Abonima strengthens the defense.
VPS coach Petri Vuorinen has brought in a determined philosophy where his team is to play controlled football. Some call it a poor man’s total voetbal or tiqui taca, which isn’t exactly on point. Anyway, VPS are highly dependent on a good pitch which around this time of year in Finland is a rarity. Therefore, in their previous home game Vuorinen decided to change his team’s play to a more direct one which also gave them a 1-0 win. Fullback Engström was subbed due to an injury against Levänen who made his return from a minor concussion. Midfielder Voutilainen might make his return but central back Viitikko and fullback Lampi are still ruled out.
The VPS defense still leaves some to hope as it’s prone to early loss of possession. The pitch in Seinäjoki is in better shape than in Vaasa, which gives the guests a lot better chances to execute their game. Mistakes will surely lead to goals, and mistakes will probably occur frequently.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals at 2.51
IFK Mariehamn v KuPS
The islanders from Aaland could easily end their season in the top 3, unless they get in a serious injury mess. With the few exceptions of an embarassing cup tie and a home draw in league against PK-35, IFK’s game has been incredibly compact. 3 conceded goals in 10 games is absolutely insane. Add two great strikers to that and you have a football machine that runs smoother than your dream car.
KuPS are also in a fine form, especially when it comes to defense. Austrian U21-goalie Johannes Kreidl has kept a clean sheet 4 times in a row now. What Kuopio is struggling with is their offense, where they have to rely on individuals rather than a collective work. A lot of the offensive players are either in mood or not, with youngster Urho Nissilä being an exception. However, he is not a rainmaker, but delivers consistently which doesn’t really help if the others aren’t feeling it.
So far both teams have enjoyed of a short injury list which also reflects in the league table. Especially for IFK Mariehamn this has been a crucial factor. Star striker Dever Orgill has impressed Jamaican national coach Schäfer so well, that he deserved a call-up to Copa America. Home game against VPS 29th of May will be his last until he returns from South America. Fortunatly for IFK, they might not even miss him too much, as they have Aleksei Kangaskolkka on the bench waiting for his opportunity.
Both teams have a lock-down defense and good goalkeepers. Add 11 goals scored in 9 games for each team and you’d expect zero to one goals at Wiklöf-Holding Arena.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 1.5 goals at 2.77
HJK v HIFK
Last season’s three Helsinki derbys were unforgettable and gave Finnish footy a spectacle it’s been missing. The beauty in those matches were not only the even match between the two supporter groups, but the the surprisingly even match on pitch. Yes, HJK had a weak season but nevertheless, with their material they were expected to run over the red rivals. All three games ended in draws and adds some extra fire to this year’s derbys.
Mostly thanks to SJK being a huge disappointment thus far and PK-35 also dwelling in crisis, HIFK’s poor start to the season has been off the media spotlight. The signing of Juho Mäkelä, who scored next to most goals last year, alongside Pekka Sihvola were expected to be a mighty striker duo. Not only has the goal scoring left a lot to hope for, as the whole team play is far from ideal.
There were some concerns around HJK’s camp early in the season especially with coach Lehkosuo. The 1-0 defeat away against Kemi raised everyone’s eyebrows but since that disappointment the blue and white side of the capitol are back on the path towards a league title. Only IFK Mariehamn look to challenge HJK in the title race, but their narrow squad is in front of tough test in July as the European qualifications start. HJK are also going to qualify, but have enough of a broad squad which will be extended further by fullback Rafinha’s return.
HIFK have basically their whole defense sidelined and are in serious trouble with their injury list. Add the troubles in collective defense and they will have a hard time holding tight against HJK. However, since it is a derby, they could counter with a goal or two.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals at 1.85
Prices correct at time of writing.
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