HIFK v KPV
As the majority of HIFK’s funds were sold to a Chinese investor with history in a Danish minor team who became quickly notorious for the massive amount of transfers in and out of the club, I became worried, and expected, that HIFK would be a loose cannon, in a negative light, in Finnish football.
Sure, there have been some moves so far at HIFK. However, in a far lesser degree than many – including me – feared, and at this moment it looks like no harm has been done.
This is something crucial for HIFK, who have found a clear collective structure under Tor Thodesen. Sure, earlier in the season the offense relied rather heavily on Jakob Dunsby, whose role has since diminished significantly, while later it has become clear that Tiquinho is the guy-to-go for HIFK, if they want to get a goal out of nowhere.
In other words, there are flaws at HIFK. However, in comparison to their table rivals, HIFK are doing far better. As far as they get the results with them with no or just a tad of luck, I see no shame in HIFK’s season. Their recent results also speak for HIFK, who have beaten both RoPS and IFK Mariehamn, and drawn against KuPS who were recovering from their European exit.
Now, it would be easy to draw conclusions from KPV’s victory over KuPS, whom HIFK ‘only’ managed to draw against. However, at that point KuPS were even more heavily fatigued by the European qualifications due to an away game and a cancelled flight.
During their past five games KPV, sure, have won twice. One of the victories being the aforementioned KuPS game, and a crucial derby victory against VPS. However, while taking a look at the three other games, I dare to question KPV’s form. Losses against three poorly performing sides, IFK Mariehamn, SJK, and FC Lahti, tells me more than those two wins.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: HIFK -0.50 at 2.110
KuPS v FC Inter
As I expected, KuPS ambitious effort against Poland’s greatest club Legia Warsaw in the Europa League qualifiers took a hefty toll. Since KuPS started their European campaign, they have drawn twice and lost once. The opponents have not either been of high quality – HIFK, KPV, and IFK Mariehamn.
I would in almost every other case consider Ariel ’Tuco’ Ngueukam as an excellent offensive mid-season signing. However, what it comes to Jani Honkavaara’s KuPS, I am not too convinced. Lucas Rangel is obviously a great striker that also matches Honkavaara’s ideology.
Then again, we have the case of the lost talent of Rasmus Karjalainen. Sure, he is a striker with clear weaknesses but in Veikkausliiga his strengths should have been come to a far better use. Tuco is neither the type of striker as Rangel or Karjalainen is but at this point I simply wonder whether Honkavaara has any use for another striker typ than Rangel, or Gbolahan Salami whom he had earlier.
Inter, on the contrary, have had a great time in Veikkausliiga since they started their European campaign. Just like KuPS, Inter invested heavily on their European draw. However, the difference being that Inter lost the first leg away by 4-1. What seemed a lot more desperate situation – and in an earlier qualification round – turned out to be an actually worthwhile challenge. Nevertheless, Inter have won all three of their league games since Brøndby, despite putting a lot of effort in Europe.
It is typical KuPS to have clear flukes and plans along their league campaigns. As far as we are now, it is clear that the upcoming hosts are in a plan. What is atypical, however, is seeing Inter perform this well despite the heavy load.
Until KuPS turn their trend, I see no reason to consider them as favorites against better or equal sides. And what it is worth, Inter are better in many fields in my opinion.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: FC Inter DNB at 2.130
RoPS v VPS
RoPS are one of the three sides that competed in Europe this season that I – conveniently – analyze in this preview. Contrary to the two other clubs, RoPS never really stood a chance in their draw. Not too surprising looking at their squad and form, nevertheless, even more demanding for such a team.
Despite being a rather comfortable distance away from the two bottom sides – KPV and VPS – the whole season until now, I do like the thought and would like to respect RoPS management for reacting to the situation. RoPS are, by no means, safe from relegation, and there are absolutely no guarantees that they will be.
Henceforth, RoPS strengthened their squad by adding a Spanish defensive midfielder with some experience from the Segunda. However, as I stated in the previous preview, I am not at all convinced that this is the position where RoPS needed more men.
VPS made finally a signing before the transfer deadline ended. Something all the other teams in the bottom of the table had done before. However, quite unexpectedly, VPS boosted up their squad by adding another goalkeeper to the roster. Martin Kompalla has not exactly saved many points for his team – certainly not any victories – but most evidently VPS need(ed) more quality and depth to their defensive line.
With that said, I do not expect any major shift in VPS play from the few earlier games. Considering the fact that they are facing another team placed in the bottom of the table, I see them fighting, once again, for their first victory of the season.
The lack of quality in VPS squad has been obvious against top sides, however, once facing the lower half of the table, VPS are equal to their opponents. RoPS offense is still something I do not count on. Therefore, I see VPS avoiding a loss at Rovaniemi.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS +0.75 at 1.660
Preview by: @konformisten.