Last week’s Asian Handicap preview gave us one winning result, and thanks to Eastbridge we got it for the highest value. Let’s see how we could get even more profit out of Veikkausliiga this week.
HIFK v SJK
The reds from Helsinki experienced a heavy loss away at league leaders IFK Mariehamn. The visitors were close to an equalizing 1-1, and the table toppers felt lucky to leave the field as winners.
While Inter took a valuable away win at Lahti, HIFK got stuck even worse in the second to last position. As PK-35 isn’t getting anywhere from the bottom place, HIFK is striving to exit the qualification position. And it’s not too far away.
In an extremely tight top half of the table, SJK has revamped their squad in August. Something no one else has bothered, or perhaps dared, to do, at least so far. But as there’s 10 more games to go, and the transfer window shuts in a few days, will anyone else take the risk of investing extra and hoping that extra will bring a European spot?
The Andorran recruit Marc Vales has made a huge impact as a center back, raising the overall level of SJK’s defense by a lot, not the least his fellow stopper Abdoulaye Meite’s level. Spanish defender Aimar joined at the start of the week, as did the former PS Kemi striker, Billy Ions, whom I hold unlikely to be valuable for SJK this season.
Billy Ions was brought in to get an additional fierce pure striker to the squad, as they’ve been to dependent on Roope Riski, who’s clearly been exhausted at times. The exhaustion was significant for example in the derby against VPS, where Riski wasn’t risky at all.
As SJK are looking for redemption in the last 10 fixtures through new signings and some farewells, it might be just too much to late. Sure, HIFK has some problems coach Muurinen, and probably no one else for that matter can solve, but they have the history on their side. SJK are yet to win a league game in Helsinki.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: HIFK +0.5 at 1.84
IFK Mariehamn v VPS
IFK Mariehamn is starting to feel the heat of the pole position. They broke their 4 games long winless run away at VPS, and defeated also HIFK on home soil. Neither of those wins were that convincing. VPS were one man down the whole second half, and IFK M really gave their hosts a good chance to equalize to 1-1. Similarly, in the win against HIFK, the islanders gave the opponents a too fair chance to get even.
If the hosts are feeling the heat of being the best, the visitors most certainly felt the heat of the moment. After their 6 games long winning streak they’ve drawn twice, lost twice and won only once. In all fairness, it hasn’t been an easy schedule: RoPS & Kemi away, SJK, IFK M, and HJK at home.
This is fascinating matchup as these two teams share so much but at the same time differ greatly. If we take a look at the statistics, VPS and IFK M has had the fewest players on field this year. So, despite a very thin squad, both teams have made a great result, so far. The absolutely tightest parts of the match schedule lie in the past, but the length of the season is risky for a small squad. Which is something that VPS gaffer Petri Vuorinen has taken into account through rotation.
Both teams are the absolute elite of Veikkausliiga’s defense. The hosts have conceded the least (16 in 23) and the guests next to least (20 in 23). However, the defensive fort is built in Mariehamn on a different strategic material than in Vaasa. While IFK M rely on two strong center backs and a high pressure, VPS defend through ball possession.
VPS exhibited their possession skills once again against HJK, but couldn’t find the net. Pyry Soiri missed a penalty during the first half, but VPS never got a better scoring chance since that, despite pressuring the HJK defense.
Again, history has a lot to say here. While IFK took a routine win in Vaasa, now is the time for VPS to get a result. When these two teams face, it’s often the away side that wins. Additionally, IFK’s home statistics are in general modest, to say the least. Despite leading the league, on home soil IFK are only the 7th best side in Veikkausliiga.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS +0.5 at 1.81
HJK v KuPS
I honestly didn’t think HJK, and especially Mika ‘Bana’ Lehkosuo, could make another disappointing season after last year’s complete farce. Turns out that ‘Bana’ has made HJK completely banal. The play has an engineer-feel to it, as in no one is allowed to deviate from the strict plan Lehkosuo has created for each match. I mean seriously, the team that has by far the largest budget has started to play extremely cautiously and defensive-mindedly on the road!
Where league leaders IFK Mariehamn top the table thanks to an amazing away form, HJK are the complete opposite. Thanks to the league’s strongest home prestige, HJK have still a chance to redeem last year’s catastrophe.
After both RoPS and VPS winning streaks ended, KuPS climbed up out of nowhere and claimed the strived third spot. Three difficult games against VPS, RoPS and SJK gave the Savonians only one point, but after winning against IFK M and HJK (plus PK-35), they are deservedly a legit competitor for a European spot. Especially the 2-3 win at HJK, when they scored twice on injury time, showed a hunger for something more than last year.
While KuPS enjoy a healthy situation without suspensions, HJK have some issues to sort out. Young defender Aapo Halme received a red card against PK-35, where the defensive line was already absurd, makes the defensive effort a lot tougher for HJK. Former Bolton and Partizan Beograd midfielder Medo left scandalously for Kuwait, but at least their strikers are in a rather good shape. Ousman Jallow braced HJK with two goals against PK-35, but in all honesty it’s nothing to brag with. PK-35 would barely survive in the Finnish second tier.
KuPS already grabbed a 2-3 win a few weeks ago, why should they be underestimated now? HJK has an infinite amount of problems to solve with Lehkosuo, and a win against a pathetic PK-35 doesn’t give them any credit. I see KuPS highly undervalued here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: KuPS +1 at 1.77
Prices correct at time of writing.
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