Ilves v RoPS
League leaders Ilves found their way back to winning after losing to Lahti and drawing in the very last minutes home against HJK as they beat Honka in a hugely important game, scoring once again after 90 minutes.
Now, Ilves defense has not been as solid as it was in the first third of the season. In contrast, Ilves are conceding quite the amount of shots now. The first half at Tapiola against Honka was very onesided, dominated by the home team. The score could have been even 3-0 before the halftime whistle, however, Mika Hilander was on fire.
Hilander was also fuming at his defense who allowed a cross to penetrate the box very easily to the opening goal. It is somewhat worrying that so much relies on the goalkeeper now, albeit the offense has really stepped up from the beginning of the season.
So, as long as Ilves get to keep Lauri Ala-Myllymäki, the offense should be able to cover up to the defensive errs. The second half at Tapiola was quite the opposite of the first half, with Ilves constantly threatening their hosts. Eero Tamminen arrived from Inter a few weeks ago, where he was a complete failure, however, under Wiss he gets more out of his best qualities.
RoPS tend to lie defensively rather low down the field, which I earlier would have seen as an issue for Ilves. However, as Ilves have offensively progressed, perhaps by sacrificing some defensive quality, I see Ilves having good chances to break through RoPS defense.
As I have written earlier, RoPS offensive quality is far from mesmerizing. Counter-attacks can be threatening against Ilves but with Youness Rahimi being so lonely with whomever he teams up with up on top, I see it highly unlikely that RoPS can push in a goal.
Although Ilves have not been that strong of a home team this year – sure, they have not lost yet at home – winning only thrice, RoPS are a so much weaker side that Ilves should be able to secure their pole position after this round.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves -0.75 at 1.800
FC Inter v IFK Mariehamn
Inter’s squad and coach showed their potency last weekend at Rovaniemi as RoPS’ guests. Despite playing a weak full 90 minutes, especially star striker Filip Valencic lying in the shadows, the team took a 0-2 victory.
Inter could not create many proper scoring opportunities, despite that they scored the opening goal thanks to a beautiful shot by Albion Ademi. As RoPS were down one man after a red card, Inter could still not get control of the game. Instead, RoPS tried to counter, with little success.
In the end – and what also speaks of Valencic’s greatness – Timo Furuholm combined with his Slovenian colleague, who found the net easily for a relieving 0-2 goal.
So, despite Inter had a weaker match, they could grab the full three points away at an opponent whom they were expected to beat. A good sign for a team that no longer competes in Europe, has no pressure to sell players – save for the fact that Valencic is so smoking hot that he might leave – and can focus fully on the league campaign.
IFK Mariehamn had on the other hand a rough game against HIFK home at Wiklöf Holding Arena. Their guests had a fairly easy time to rob the full three points from the island, and defensively Mariehamn were lackluster, to sy the least.
Inter are, once again, in a position where anything but a win would be a disappointment. As long as the key pieces are healthy, and Mariehamn do not make a fluke match, I see no other ending than a home win.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: FC Inter -0.50 at 1.820
KuPS v HIFK
So, after drawing 0-0 at home against Legia Warsaw, thus being knocked out from the Europa League qualifiers by 1-0 from the first leg, KuPS sacrificed a lot. With their flight being unfortunately cancelled, Honkavaara was more or less forced to rotate heavily away at Kokkola as KPV’s guests before the second leg at home.
Although I was expecting some form of rotation, I did not see KuPS being so dull that the newcomers would beat them by 2-1. This also was a huge bump on the road towards another podium finish, even more for a title race.
With the second leg been played this Thursday, with the optimal starting eleven, I expect to see nearly as much rotation, albeit there will not be any travel this time. We saw how weak KuPS were against a much weaker side than HIFK.
HIFK do not have a that strong squad, however, it is clearly a tier above KPV’s. Additionally, they have found a consistency with a good coach, where they beat their weaker opponents most of the times, and can sometimes surprise against bigger opponents.
At IFK Mariehamn, HIFK were never in trouble defensively. Instead, they were threatening their hosts in plenty different forms, Tiquinho being a super weapon.
KuPS did an honorable job by trying their all against Legia, however, I do see it costing them a lot in the league. HIFK are not an opponent that can be easily just walked over.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: HIFK +0.75 at 1.820
Preview by: @konformisten.