It seems that the Finnish Summer in Europe is going to be as short as the season in general in Finland. With SJK already knocked out, HJK and VPS have an uphill to climb in the second leg on home turf. Meanwhile, IFK Mariehamn is virtually out after losing by a clear margin home against Polish giants Legia Warsaw.
JJK V SJK
Since the nearly two weeks break in early June, JJK has conceded depressing 16 goals in five matches, scoring only twice. The break was preceded by a solid three games long unbeaten streak, but now there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
The visitors are not doing that much better, scoring only once more than JJK in the past five games. Five games ago was also a crucial point for SJK, who sacked Sixten Boström for Manuel Roca and what so far seems to be nothing better.
After being knocked out in Europa League qualifications against an ill-formed KR Reykjavik, I feel certain that this SJK won’t finish in top 4 in October. The Icelanders by no means impressed throughout the 180 minutes, while SJK had all the trouble in the world to create chances.
Which is also visible in Veikkausliiga. On the contrary to the few goals scored, they do fairly well defensively. Only one of their seven past games (EL qualifiers included) have ended in over 2.5 goals. When JJK came to Seinäjoki, back in Boström’s days, SJK looked toothless already then.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 at 2.230
Ilves v HJK
Ilves had quite the game against IFK Mariehamn in the previous Veikkausliiga round. Pre-match hopes topped at a tough draw for Ilves fans, but after the final whistle, a 2-2 draw felt disappointing.
Meanwhile, HJK fans have had another temper tantrum after a 3-1 defeat at Macedonian Shkëndija. HJK isn’t that strong of a squad, not even close to the one that made it to Europa League group stage.
Albeit HJK have regained their impressive home form, creating a safe house in Töölö, where no Veikkausliiga team – well, except rivals HIFK – stand a chance. However, on the road, it’s a whole ‘nother story for HJK.
Sure, HJK has lost only once this year (away, of course), but they don’t even top the away table. Ironically, it’s VPS who tops it, the same team that beat HJK home in Vaasa. Anyway, HJK have took on a lot of pressure from Europe, where a horrible first leg in the first round against a Welsh team stirred up the speculations of Lehkosuo’s post as HJK gaffer.
There’s a sense of restlessness in the blue and white camp, which very well might draw off the focus between the European legs. Also, while Ilves has been far from the home team they were the two previous years, I think they have a solid chance against HJK.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves +0.5 at 1.980
VPS v Inter
Though VPS only got a point last weekend against IFK Mariehamn after a scoreless draw, it was a truly impressive performance. VPS controlled the game and created good scoring chances while keeping the opponents to none. All this despite being in the middle of a European campaign and playing with a mostly secondary lineup.
So, what does this tell us? That VPS controlled the title holders albeit the previously stated facts? I think VPS more or less is so mature and feared by the enemy that they can control virtually every single match in Veikkausliiga, with HJK being an exception.
Even though Vepsu’s first leg against Danish runner-ups Brøndby IF (2-0 away loss) wasn’t a huge success, it was a good lesson and a Veikkausliiga opponent led by Shefki Kuqi shouldn’t be a problem.
However, a possible issue is fatigue, although I have a hard time seeing it costing them a defeat. What we could see is an exact copy of the IFK Mariehamn match, where VPS dominate but simply can’t find the net.
Also, as Inter won their previous game against JJK, we all know what that means. Kuqi is yet to win two successive games in Veikkausliiga, and it won’t happen this time either.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS DNB at 1.751
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