Ilves v FC Inter

Although it’s very early in the season, Ilves ride so far has been a bit of a rollercoaster already. The two defeats were antagonizing, especially the one against RoPS. In the previous round HJK had no trouble beating the Tampere club by 2-0 at home.

Ilves were in all terms the weaker side, especially in defense. Felipe Aspegren had the toughest time, as his head was spinning after numerous challenges by HJK wingers. Offensively there was barely a spark to be seen.

Meanwhile, Inter were knocking their heads to the wall against VPS. The nerazzurri created a handful of chances but never threatened Marko Meerits’ goal that much. Inter’s biggest offensive threat lies in center, which Ilves prefer over strong wing play.

The end of Inter – VPS got quite heated, and the frustration of being 0-1 down without conceding a single shot was too much to handle for Julien Faubert and Timo Furuholm. Besides the two, coach Shefki Kuqi, quite unsurprisingly, wasn’t pleased with the situation.

In other words, two teams clash after an unpleasing result from the last round. The difference is, that Jarkko Wiss has proven to be able to turn the tides swiftly to the next game, while Shefki Kuqi hasn’t. Add to that the fact that Ilves are finally returning to their real home, Tammelan Stadion, where they have been one of the best home teams in a good few Veikkausliiga seasons.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves -0.5 at 2.250

JJK v VPS

No one who has seen JJK play this season can’t have unseen how deep of a pickle they find themselves in. I’m quite convinced that they are worse than PK-35 even after Kuqi and almost the whole starting eleven left the Vantaa side. There’s absolutely no hope when they play away. Basically, every man on field is defending, and the counter attacks are just a pain to watch.

It’s as if all JJK can do in a game is to hope that the opponent doesn’t score. And that’s it. There’s no “and then we score a lucky goal.” The counter attacks consist mostly of 2-3 players who look more unsure with the ball than when toddler is kicking a ball for the first time.

However, on home field it’s not as tragic, although not that much better either. As long as their home ground, Harjun Kenttä, is in disastrous shape – thanks to the extremely poor Spring, it can be prolonged for a while – opponents, like VPS, who prefer possession can’t get the best out of their game.

Unfortunate to JJK, VPS had a chance for a couple of months last season to practice their strategy at their exile home ground, Kaarlen Kenttä, last Spring. In other words, VPS might not be that uncomfortable with the pitch as many would expect.

I’m remaining a bit skeptical towards an away win, however. Midfielder Aatu Laatikainen hurt his knee badly against Inter, Sebastian Strandvall is rumored to struggle with a minor injury, and Ebrima Sohna’s transfer will be complete probably a lot later. So, VPS midfield is a bit thin, but Ville Koskimaa is making a return to make the defensive fort even stronger.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 at 1.770

HIFK v IFK Mariehamn

Crisis is bulging in the red part of Helsinki. The classic club has filed a couple of bankruptcies earlier in the history, and their surprising promotion was close to be cancelled due to financial reasons. Which might’ve been the smarter choice.

It was no secret that the funds were on tight in HIFK, which is the reason why signings of the experienced – and therefore expensive, too – former HJK-icons Mika Väyrynen, Juho Mäkelä, Mikael Forssell, and Antti Muurinen raised an eyebrow here and there. A day after the resigning of chairman René Österman, the club announced their plans to start another crowdfunding. The first one they did right at the brink of their return to the championship tier, as a means to create a stable base for the first three years to grow on.

Albeit the turmoil behind the scenes, HIFK have made some optimistic performances lately. The problem being that only the performances are optimistic, results; not so much. Against KuPS they lost the lead to a defeat in the last 10 minutes, at SJK they lost two-goal lead on stoppage time, and against Lahti they lost a draw in the 89th minute.

Those fairly good games except the collapses in the end is probably the reason why the odds are flattering HIFK so much. On the other hand, IFK Mariehamn have also played better than the results indicate.

However, a series of three 1-1 draws against tough opponents (Inter, VPS, HJK) and a painful 3-0 loss at Ilves was ended by a relieving 3-0 victory at home against PS Kemi. Aleksei Kangaskolkka played an important part in two goals, and Lucky Mkosana’s goal is exactly what the former New York Cosmos striker needed.

Despite the disappointing tally of nine points from six games, IFK Mariehamn look strong enough to get a posivite result from Helsinki.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: IFK Mariehamn DNB at 1.869

Prices correct at time of writing.

By Petteri Räisänen – @konformisten from @FootballUtd

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