KuPS v Ilves
The most odd couple in Veikkausliiga has started their league run in much similar fashion. Both of them winning, drawing and losing once. However, KuPS has had the tougher schedule and should be just a tiny bit happier with their record so far.
What makes this couple so odd, is the fact that Ilves has beaten KuPS all those six times they’ve met since the Tampere based club returned to the championship tier. They’ve all been even competitions, Ilves always winning by one. KuPS’ record gets even worse when you look at their cup ties, where the Savonians are also without a win.
Mika Hilander, who has a cap or two for Finland, makes a return between Ilves’ goal posts after suffering his suspension. It’s a good time to return, too, since second choice Johannes Luukkanen is far from Hilander’s level.
KuPS, on the other hand, are missing defensive midfielder Gabriel Reuben due to suspension. It isn’t the whole world for coach Honkavaara, but Reuben is an important asset to control the midfield.
Ilves made a poor performance home against RoPS, losing 0-2. Now that their goalie is back I’d expect a more solid defense and a step up in the offense. Honkavaara’s KuPS are yet to really impress me, and history speaks badly for them.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves +0.25 at 1.96
RoPS v PS Kemi
Last year’s Lapland derbies were the first ones since at least a decade, but they couldn’t really ignite the attention outside of Northern Finland. Mostly due to RoPS having a whole lot better material, and the late dates for them.
The circumstances are different this time. RoPS are significantly smaller favorites than previously, and an early clash leaves room for surprises. And speaking of surprises, both Kemi and RoPS won their last game despite the odds being heavily against them.
One of RoPS’ biggest concerns since last mid-season has been inefficient strikers. Former league top scorer Aleksandr Kokko was replaced by one of the most useless strikers I’v seen in Veikkausliiga, Estonian Albert Prosa. Somehow coach Juha Malinen figured that Finnish Sakari Tukiainen, who came from Estonian Meistriliiga, would be a better choice. Seems like another horrible miss so far.
The home team are also lacking their captain and midfield anchor, Antti Okkonen due to an injury, which is a blow to their possession game. Although Okkonen has had a tad slower start to the season, he is an important piece in steering the tempo and rhythm of RoPS game.
Nevertheless, RoPS have found the net twice in each of their three previous games. Their defense, on the other hand, has been really shaky, where Okkonen’s absence will also be noticed. Kemi doesn’t exactly have a squad full of scorers, but I feel secure that RoPS will offer them some fair chances to find the net.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 at 2.250
IFK Mariehamn v VPS
This is one of my favorite fixtures in the league. Mariehamn and VPS play tight games where no love is lost. Both come from drawing their last game and have their espective aspects of game to improve on.
Mariehamn lost their top striker Dever Orgill after winning the league title, which wasn’t supposed to be a too tough loss as they have Aleksei Kangaskolkka left in the squad. Unfortunately, the big striker got again injured in the previous fixture against Inter. However, only for a week or two, but he won’t be in full match-fit for this clash.
Zimbabwean Lucky Mkosana was brought in during the offseason, but is clearly far from Kangaskolkka’s and especially Orgill’s skills. However, IFK Mariehamn’s scoring isn’t built solely on the two strikers.
Meanwhile, VPS are struggling at the other end of the field. They’ve lost Ville Koskimaa and Mikko Viitikko to injuries, and it seems like their only center back left, Timi Lahti, will also be sidelined. New signing Ebrima Sohna, who can occasionally play as a center back is yet to receive permission to play from the FA.
This fixture rarely sees plenty of goals, but considering the conditions these two teams find themselves in, I see a good value in a high-scoring game. The guests have found the net better than last year, however, conceding far more, too.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 at 2.500
Prices correct at time of writing.
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