FC Inter v VPS

Offensively strengthened by former HJK hero Mac Kandji, albeit defensively still somewhat unstable Inter had some trouble at JJK but could finish their business by grabbing full three points in the end. Had it been basically anyone else but JJK, Shefki Kuqi’s lads would probably gone home without a victory.

Inter is kind of doing what SJK were expected to but so far haven’t been able to. That is, top-level individuals turning the tide for Inter’s favor. In this case, it’s the immense firepower Inter possess upfront that can overcome a poor strategic and collective performance.

Which is the exact opposite to VPS way of winning and losing, which is always experience as a team performance. Their win at home against HJK was a huge statement from coach Petri Vuorinen, who proved that he’d learned his lesson from the season premiere (5-0 defeat at HJK).

The low blocking defense without their two primary center back’s did its job and a surprisingly fast-paced offensive buildup shocked the HJK defense. VPS had only four shots on goal, but they could’ve all resulted in a goal. The boys in black and white create few chances, but they are great scoring chances.

Only one of VPS games has resulted in under 2.5 goals so far, a lot due to an improved offense and a still somewhat dizzy defense (HJK had a significantly higher xG). Two of Inter’s games have resulted in under 2,5 goals, against HJK and IFK Mariehamn, whom VPS also drew 1-1 against.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 at 2.210

KuPS v HIFK

Kuopio’s classic club KuPS made an easy trip to Kemi last weekend. There was never a question of the better team, which was reflected quite clearly on the scoreline (1-4), too. In fact, KuPS had the chances for even more goals, and Kemi’s only one was a purely cosmetic garbage time goal.

In my previous preview I pondered whether losing a two-goal lead at SJK in the final minutes to a draw would be too much to take, and whether Birmingham City icon Mikael Forssell could be of any help in scoring. Of course, one game doesn’t give a full answer, but so far, it’s a no to the former, and a yes to the latter question.

However, we can conclude from HIFK’s win against RoPS that tactically they’re at this point decent – or maybe RoPS are just really awful, we’ll come to that later. They successfully avoided Malinen’s trademarked high pressure with ease and had no trouble in defense.

The thing is that RoPS were really bad at HIFK, which they have been more or less the whole season, so I’m not sure how impressive that 1-0 win eventually is. What I am sure of is that KuPS won’t be even remotely as easy to face as RoPS were.

Because KuPS won’t allow HIFK that much space to advance nor the numerical imbalance in offense, which is how HIFK could create so many chances. Neither will KuPS leave Tomi Maanoja’s goal so unthreatened, as they proved in the previous round against Kemi.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: KuPS -0.5 at 1.860

RoPS v FC Lahti

I’m not sure what to make of Juha Malinen’s defensive philosophy in RoPS. Under his rule, the Lapland club has become famous for extremely aggressive pressure, causing trouble for possession teams like HJK and VPS, but also other opponents, who feel less comfortable with the ball in the defensive line.

In my opinion, the problem seems to be what happens when the opponent breaks through that pressure. The midfield seems completely helpless here, and honestly, they look like they have absolutely no idea what to even do. It’s like there is no midfield to stop the advancement.

Then why was it so successful not too long ago? Firstly, I cannot recall how RoPS defense performed last Fall, so I’m not sure if this apathetic midfield defense is a transition that took place during the offseason, or if it’s been there for a longer time. Secondly, I’m starting to believe that Malinen is the last of the 90’s Mohicans. Veikkausliiga saw very late coaches that were in the league in the 90’s, Olli Huttunen being the most recent to pass his date of expiry. Football isn’t the same anymore, Mr. Malinen.

In other words, this should be a piece of cake for the only unbeaten team, FC Lahti, right? Well, that’s where it gets tricky, because the reason why Lahti remain unbeaten is a tad inconvenient.

Because I’m calling Lahti’s record almost purely on luck. They’ve faced twice their favorite opponent, SJK, drew 1-1 in a snow blizzard against a weak JJK, drew 1-1 at Ilves with a full half of man advantage, and beat a poor HIFK. A rather optional schedule for FCL, I’d say.

As only one Lahti game has resulted in over 2.5 goals, and RoPS malignly lackluster offense, I can’t see that many goals to be scored in this game either.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 at 1.787

Prices correct at time of writing.

By Petteri Räisänen – @konformisten from @FootballUtd

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