The Finnish cup final was played on Saturday at Ratina stadium, Tampere. The tournament itself has turned into a big joke, thanks to the FA’s incompetence. Barely 2,000 in attendance was one of the obviously bad results of a non-existent marketing. The worst part of it all is, though, that SJK won it all despite using illicit players earlier in the tournament.
FC Lahti v HIFK
HIFK travel to Lahti before facing HJK in Stadin derby on Friday. This is actually one of the two ‘easiest’ games remaining for HIFK, so hoping to avoid the qualification they really need a good result here, most likely even a win. Although it is one of the two ‘easier’ games left, it doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Because FC Lahti has loosened up now that there’s nothing left to play for, obviously. Some blame the poor results and performances on goalkeeper problems that were solved more or less first now, but I think it’s fairly clear that there’s much, much more to it. Offensively they’ve gotten out of a dark alley and started creating a lot more chances per game. Kalle Multanen has finally gotten his opportunity, and used it by scoring a hat-trick in Kemi. Multanen is the most efficient goal scorer of those with at least 7 goals.
However, HIFK have been in any very fine form, ranked second in the league table based on 5 previous fixtures. On the other hand, it’s been also a rather easy schedule for HIFK, facing PS Kemi and PK-35 Vantaa, who’ve been quite awful lately. It has also given HIFK a two point advantage over Inter, who are still to face PK-35 Vantaa in the last round.
There’s some mystique over FC Lahti, too. Head coach Toni Korkeakunnas is speculated to leave after the season, you guessed it, for HIFK. Montenegrin defender Boris Tatar gave also an interview, which hints an exit. Mikko Kuningas is out due to fever, otherwise there are no new injuries for neither side.
Both teams have found a fine form for the fall season, but mostly in the offense. Especially Korkeakunnas cannot, and is not, happy with the defense, but in the past few games their offense has compensated the mistakes.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Over 2.5 Goals at 1.94
Inter v VPS
Inter have made a slight improvement under Shefki Kuqi, but only a slight. Their currently gaining 1,1 points per game, the same as under Dragtsma, and they need to start winning to pass HIFK, or Kemi, in the table.
Interesting enough, Inter’s still been struggling in offense, despite making some heavy recruitments in August. Erfan Zeneli hasn’t found himself yet, in a similar fashion, which made Sebastian Mannström leave the club. However, Kuqi’s litlle brother Njazi is in good shape and Kennedy Nwanganga has finally started to deliver.
Speaking of offensive struggles, VPS have been in quite deep waters since August. They haven’t created as many chances anymore, perhaps because the Jamaican duo hasn’t been too many minutes on field together. The loss against a clearly better SJK, who executed their game plan perfectly, took its toll on VPS hopes on a European finish.
Midfield genius Juho Lähde has been missing for VPS, as have U21-internationals Pyry Soiri and Mikko Viitikko. The absences of Lähde and Soiri have been remarkably noticeable with a lack of creativity. Too much responsibility has lied solely on Steven Morrissey.
VPS slaughtered Inter last time in Turku, but the nerazzurri were in a deeper crisis at that point. I see Inter heavily overvalued here, as VPS can hold an Inter, who are poor in tactic, with their possession football.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: VPS +0.5 at 1.68
SJK v KuPS
Titleholders SJK are playing the best football, by far, in Finland right now. Their loss in Helsinki against HIFK was the final wakeup call they needed, and since that, they’ve been undefeated. Their season was officially saved from a complete catastrophe on Saturday, when they beat HJK on penalties in the Finnish cup final.
The huge reconstruction SJK made in August was questionable, as in if it’s too much too late, but it’s proven to be a success. Billy Ions, Roope Riski and Tuco form a scary attacking trio, who were unstoppable against VPS.
KuPS, on the other hand are in a tight spot. They need a positive result in order to keep at least some hopes for a European spot, and it’s not an easy task to do. It’ll require investment in offense, but knowing SJK, it’s rapidly punished in the other end.
The offensive task is made even harder by Gbolahan Salami’s suspension, which he got in their last game against Ilves, by flopping twice! Sasa Jovovic, who arrived in August from second tier side Ekenäs IF, hasn’t really found himself on the field yet. Add the red card goalkeeper Johannes Kreidl received on injury time, and you have an impossible mission for KuPS.
2nd goalie Craig Hill hasn’t been playing in a long time, and isn’t really a reliable goalie in such a big game. SJK has had some injuries to deal with, but only Matej Hradecky is still a bit hurt.
SJK have the tools to demolish KuPS fairly strong defense, which is, in fact, vulnerable from quite many positions. There’s a good opportunity for SJK even to contend HJK and IFK Mariehamn.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: SJK -0.75 at 1.80
Prices correct at time of writing.
Join Eastbridge Soccer Betting Broker today for all your Veikkausliiga betting, now UK licensed!