FC Lahti v KPV
In the previous preview I expected Lahti and HIFK to struggle scoring against each other. However, my analysis was completely wrong, and in hindsight it is rather easy to see why.
FC Lahti pressed rather aggressively with several players about fifteen yards on the opposite half, which led to both opportunities and risks. The opportunities Lahti used well, by gaining possession from the rather clumsy HIFK defense. Long balls were also a good option against insecure defenders.
However, it did come with a great cost that HIFK, who move the ball extremely fast forwards, used well. Lahti’s defense was similarly, at times, very shaky and insecure. HIFK showed offensive maturity, which comes quite late in the season, but I will get more into that later in the preview.
As VPS went on to lose at Rovaniemi, KPV basically secured avoiding a direct relegation with their win at OmaSp stadium in Seinäjoki. The greens were struggling during the first fifteen minutes when SJK had at least some enthusiasm in their play. KPV struggled getting past their hosts’ high pressure and especially the central defense was having a rough time.
After the initial inertia, KPV took control of the game and truly ran over an extremely apathic SJK. The positive mood in KPV’s camp is visible and offensively they do look pretty ok, too. However, the defense has not exactly been challenged in the two recent games, where the opposition has struggled all season long with scoring.
I expect this to be a quite eventful match where both sides are prone to mistakes. That should also lead to a fair amount of goals.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 2.230
VPS v HIFK
Good Lord it has not been an easy season for VPS. Losing at Rovaniemi was the last nail to seal the coffin, although there is still a slim theoretical chance to avoid direct relegation.
VPS created a little something in the first half against their very lackluster hosts but not really enough to score. The collective work in offense is simply not there anymore, instead, VPS offensive hopes rely on individuals or a couple players combining their skills for the moment.
Sure, it has resulted in a fair share of goals under Christian Sund, however, the problems in defense are so immense. There is the obvious lack of quality, but I think the amount of different defensive line-ups VPS have been forced to start with this year has not gained the amount of attention it should.
Jamaican winger Ricardo Morris started as a fullback at Rovaniemi and did an absolutely horrific job. He caused the first penalty by being clumsy and could not mark his man in the second goal. There were not high expectations, but he still managed to disappoint me.
I already partly analyzed partly HIFK’s previous match as they drew 2-2 in Lahti. The offensive maturity I mentioned has shown as the scoring load being more evenly spread in the squad. Earlier this season they were rather dependent on one individual, whteher it was Jakob Dunsby, Tiquinho, or Luis Henrique. Now, they produce plenty more chances for more options.
HIFK lost last time in Vaasa, being the only team to do so thus far this season together with IFK Mariehamn. VPS defense will still leak badly but I do still see them producing quite a lot of offensive threats against HIFK’s defense.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.860
HJK v FC Inter
IFK Mariehamn’s curse as HJK’s guests continued, as expected. Despite having about an hour to score against a home team whose defense continued doing the exact opposite of impressing by doing incredibly silly mistakes and showing absolutely no unity, Mariehamn’s inefficiency in front of goal kept the scoresheet empty.
HJK ended up winning 3-0 which most certainly does not tell the truth of the whole 90 minutes. The typical issue was present once again, as HJK’s offense had its 30-minute period of very active and dangerous football. During the first 60 minutes it was as if the offensive players simply were not there.
Just like for VPS, it has been a very rough season for HJK, who also have lost their collective foundation which they were known for under their former manager. Now it is as if all the three sections of the lineup live in their own worlds, midfielders being in purgatory – like Tottenham Hotspur, or champagne without the fizz. The offensive players have their moments of divine experience, while the defensive lineup is taking a guided tour in hell with Dante.
Inter’s title hopes took a massive blow when they lost home to Honka. The hosts were unlucky with hitting the post thrice, but they did struggle more than I expected in offense. Defensively Honka were rather harmless, although they clearly pulled back after the opening goal.
The main reason for Inter’s struggles against Honka was one man only, Anthony Annan. I have rarely seen such an inept player in a top team. When the Ghanaian ex-international was signed, I first saw it as a great addition to the squad for the final sprint in the season. However, he had not played for a while which is visible on the field. What is even more obvious is how he has not understood his role on the field, like at all.
Thanks to his idiotic behavior in the final minutes against Honka, Annan will not face his former team in Helsinki. This is definitely more of a blessing than a curse for the visitors, who look to keep their hopes for the title alive. Inter are seriously undervalued here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Inter +0.50 at 1.850
Preview by: @konformisten.
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