FC Honka v HIFK

Honka lost on home soil an important match against KuPS by 1-2. Altogether the performance disturbingly poor from the home team who aspire to finish in the top three this season, if not even in the pole position.

Passing through very high and aggressive pressure has earlier this season proven to be an issue for Honka. Just as it was against KuPS who scored the opening goal from an err by Gideon Baah, HIFK got their win against Honka in April thanks to high pressure.

It was neither the first time Gideon Baah was the reason behind a conceded goal. He has made an enormous number of failed passes under pressure and has been surprisingly often out of position. I think it is safe to say that the best days of Baah are in the past.

I was skeptical towards Honka’s transfer window already when the season started, as they lost their top scorer Mac Kandji and did not find a replacement for him. Instead, they brought in Juha Hakola from VPS, who sure is an excellent left winger for Veikkausliiga fields, however, he is seldom the guy who steps in the spotlight on clutch time.

As we are getting closer to the halfway point of the season and Honka are still this vulnerable to high pressure, I dare to criticize the choices in the defensive line as well. Baah obviously does not hold the quality to this model of game, which might be crucial by the end of the season.

HIFK lost to HJK in a derby where they did at least a decent job. 0-2 to HJK slightly after the half hour mark was enough to kill the game, and considering the vast discrepancy in quality between the two squads, this was the expected result.

Honka, too, are superior in quality what it comes to squad depth. However, considering how well HIFK pressed their coming hosts earlier this season, and how KuPS used the same thing to their advantage, I do not think that Honka are as big favorites as the odds want to tell.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: HIFK +0.75 at 2.080

SJK v VPS

SJK’s season is doomed to be an emotional rollercoaster, where they grab some inspiring victories and lose some games after a very uninspiring performance. Such is the state of SJK, and it has been so for quite a while. However, the reasons to this have differed.

This year it is quite clear that the qualitative disparity even in the starting eleven is so enormous, that the quality of the 90-minute performance inside and between matches fluctuates considerably.

Alexey Eremenko sr. is foremost dependent on three – plus one, the goalies being the last piece, both great by the way – individuals. Sergei Oliynyk is the key to scoring, as the Ukrainian is – far too often – the sole reason SJK can create a chance to get even that one goal. In order to even get to that position, Moshatgh Yaghoubi is essential for the earlier buildup of possession. Lastly, Mehmet Hetemaj is, by far, the most important piece of this year’s SJK. The defensive midfielder contributes with discipline that spreads all over the collective defensive work, and once regaining the possession, makes the smartest move nearly every single time.

Although it sounds like SJK are highly too reliable on a selection of individuals, VPS would kindly accept that situation. Sure, there are some lads in SJK that really do not hold the quality for a position in the starting eleven in Veikkausliiga, however, with the superior quality of others, that disadvantage can be somehow retributed. Such is not the case for VPS.

Petri Vuorinen saw his final day as VPS head coach after 4 years and a handful days, which is a respectable service nowadays in football. No matter what he had done earlier, the state of the club was so hopeless, that some kind of change was inevitable.

Christian Sund, the former assistant who took over Vuorinen’s post, did make some radical changes at the training ground. However, of what I know, his philosophy does not differ too much from Vuorinen’s. I would not expect VPS to climb from the depths, at lest not yet.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: SJK -0.50 at 1.880

FC Lahti v Ilves

I have been bashing FC Lahti all season long while giving them credit for playing rough football and never giving up. I can still give them the credit for that, however, it is still a fact that it does not carry a team too far.

And lately, it has become inevitable that Lahti should consider them lucky to be so far ahead of the two bottom teams, KPV and VPS. Having scored only twice in their four last games, losing thrice and drawing once 0-0, the state of this club is rather clear.

The offensive issues have been visible throughout the whole season. Erik Törnros was not the solution to scoring, where Lahti have been ridiculously reliable on Josue’s long shots. They worked, by chance, in the beginning of the season, but as the opponent’s started to recognize one of the very few offensive threats FC Lahti had to provide, that source of goal chances has started to diminish.

I mentioned earlier this season how Ilves were under the radar, performing very well both in Veikkausliiga and in the national cup. Just because Ilves lack the popular names, the collective work under Jarkko Wiss had received way too little recognition.

As Ilves beat IFK Mariehamn in the cup final and continued playing well in the league, Wiss has not been afraid to talk about winning a recognizable national double. Albeit the thin squad, with the easier schedule than the previous seasons, and the roughest part of it behind them, Ilves are, in my opinion, a very strong candidate to win the league title.

What really fascinates me about Wiss’ Ilves is the flexibility. Ilves started the season by shutting out opponent after another, struggling in offense but finding some way to score that winning goal. However, as of recent, the roles have somewhat turned upside down. Ilves score now plenty of goals, while they concede a lot of more scoring opportunities than before.

While it may sound as inconsiderable coaching to some, to me it is sign of healthy self-criticism by Jarkko Wiss. He recognized the clear flaw in Ilves game, which was scoring, by losing some of the defensive efficiency.

By the means of Lahti’s horrendous offensive game and Ilves’ recent luxurious form, I cannot see any other end result than an away win.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves -0.50 at 2.030

Preview by: @konformisten.

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