IFK Mariehamn v TPS

Mariehamn got their much-needed opening win for the season by defeating relegation favorites PS Kemi at Rovaniemi. Although the three points gave a relief and some breathing space, the match itself told us more than that. IFK Mariehamn is going to be stuck in the bottom half of the table, a narrow 2-3 win against Kemi won’t change that.

The Islanders allowed their hosts threaten Marc Nordqvist’s goal more often than probably any other league side would or will do. On the other hand, they could bounce back from 2-1 to a 2-3 win thanks to even worse defending from the opposition.

Prior to the season start, TPS was the biggest relegation favorite along PS Kemi. So far, the newcomers have added only one more point to their tally than Kemi, however, they’ve shown a lot more maturity for survival.

TPS was the first side to stop the RoPS ‘n’ roll train by pulling a scoreless draw on home soil. Mika Laurikainen is a good enough coach to get his mediocre squad to keep a clean sheet against a strong, although at that time a very tired, RoPS. Despite that, RoPS was the team closer to score from captain Antti Okkonen’s free kick that hit the crossbar.

I think it says more about RoPS quality in defense than TPS bad offense how few chances the home side created at Veritas stadium. In earlier games especially Oskari Jakonen and Aleksi Ristola have got their fair share of chances, although not utilizing them but against RoPS they couldn’t create even a half good chance.

The home team got an important win, however at a non-flattering style against the poorest team in Veikkausliiga at the moment. TPS shouldn’t be in much defensive trouble against an IFK, who’ve played one game more in a short period of time and lacks both squad depth and quality to grab a consecutive victory.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: TPS 0.50 at 1.675

VPS v PS Kemi

Petri Vuorinen had chosen the exactly correct tactic against HJK, which resulted in an opening goal from Sebastian Strandvall. KuPS proved high pressure being the way to go against the title holders, and Vuorinen did the – at least to me – surprisingly ballsy move to follow that recipe.

Strandvall got later another chance to grow the lead through a brace but was stopped by a nice move from his former teammate Markus Uusitalo in HJK goal. After halftime, VPS backed up way too much, although their defensive plan was fairly well executed. HJK never got to really good scoring chances, and their two goals came from an individual error and a very questionable penalty.

Some weird subs and still missing key offensive players hindered the home team to get a solid draw against the league giants. However, altogether their performance was more positive than against Ilves and RoPS.

PS Kemi had their golden opportunity to get at least some distance to the relegation zone, which could prove to be worth a lot as the season matures. However, despite a dominant game from youngster Keaton Isaksson, the home side’s severely erroneous defense allowed their opponents from Mariehamn to ride past to a 2-3 win.

The decision to sign veteran striker Juho Mäkelä, whose quality has been declining heavily since his spell at VPS, and cult striker Hakeem Araba have proven to be potentially very costly. Instead of relying on their scouting, which gave them earlier talented strikers in Filip Valencic and Erik Törnros, the presumably more expensive veterans haven’t been showing any promising signs.

A tactically lackluster coach in Jari Åhman and a very poor defense matched against a tactically more reactive coach duo in Petri Vuorinen and Ricardo Duarte and stronger squad in all fields sounds like a fairly easy home win to me.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS -0.75 at 1.940

RoPS v FC Honka

RoPS brilliant start to the season started to wear off Saturday at Veritas stadium against newcomers TPS. For some reason, RoPS has played as many games as KuPS and HJK who qualify for European competitions, and even more than the two other qualifying teams Ilves and Lahti.

Toni Koskela had to rest offensive key players Lucas Lingman and Agnaldo Moraes due to the heavy match schedule. RoPS had played three games in six days, which is a lot for any squad. Now after only four days long rest, the situation is barely better, although they get to play on home turf again.

Koskela made some smart moves along the realms of reality, as the tired RoPS troops played rough early before the opponents got too close to the penalty box. A more defensively oriented mindset ensured the team’s sixth consecutive clean sheet.

At Tapiolan Urheilupuisto, FC Honka lost their chance to their opening win against Inter. Borja Martin’s tremendous performance through an assist and an absolutely ridiculous goal were close to giving his side full three points, however, the inexperienced squad let the nerves get on them in the end, as Mika Ojala’s second goal equalized the scoreline.

Vesa Vasara is an exciting young coach with some exciting new faces to the Veikkausliiga field, however, his team is still going to some inevitable growing pains. There are some parallels to be drawn to the other promoted team TPS, although by the end of the season, Honka has the potential to grow to a stronger side.

Against a fatigued RoPS, Honka has a solid chance to pull off an upset and cause its hosts their opening defeat. Nevertheless, RoPS can still defend tightly despite a packed match schedule. The question is whether neither team can open the scoreline.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 at 1.649

By Petteri Räisänen – @konformisten from @FootballUtd

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