Inter v VPS
After Mister Piccareta’s decision to resign and return to Italy, Inter broke their years-long dry spell of failing to win consecutive league matches. The last time this happened was under the long-time Dutch manager Job Dragtsma.
So, does that make John Allen a wizard? No. In fact, I am skeptical towards what he can bring to this club. Their win against Kemi was barely fair, as it was Kemi who dominated the first half hitting the woodwork and penetrating their opponents’ defense several times. A successful counter-attack thanks to an error from a Kemi fullback gave Inter the only goal, enough for a win.
Meanwhile, VPS had a similar fate as Kemi, although magnified ten times. Vepsu created proper chances at Rovaniemi, Juha Hakola getting the closest with shot hitting the inner side of the post.
RoPS looked exhausted and helpless against their guests, and towards the end, even their coach Toni Koskela seemed happy to try securing a goalless draw by subbing in center back Juuso Hämäläinen.
The narrative got a huge plot twist in the end, as Veikkausliiga legend Antti Okkonen scored from Taye Taïwo’s free kick in the very last minute. The excruciating loss heated up VPS’ troops, which might be just what they needed.
Something else VPS have been in need of is another alternative to the offensive playmaking besides Juha Hakola. Joonas Vahtera played Monday for VPS reserves and is expected to make a very welcome comeback against Inter. VPS’ disciplinary play versus Inter’s still somewhat chaotic football sounds like a point or three for the guests.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS 0.50 at 1.810
PS Kemi v SJK
As I wrote in the preview for Inter v VPS, PS Kemi were not far from a positive result at Veritas stadium. However, a counter-attack where Kevin Mombilo did not follow the rest of the defensive line failed the offside trap and Inter took an easy lead.
Kemi ran out of juice not long after that. Where they had earlier found routes especially through the flanks, later their offensive attempts were lackluster. Still, I would not be too concerned over Kemi’s survival against relegation. However, they need to use their chances they get, since they are seemingly far from a full 90 minutes performance.
Speaking of relegation battle, and reasons why Kemi should not be too worried, is TPS. Kemi’s guests from Seinäjoki completely destroyed TPS at OmaSp stadium by 4-0. In all fairness, though, the scoreline does not tell the whole story. TPS had, once again, lost their chances but Mihkel Aksalu showed why he is the team captain and why he should be the number one goalkeeper, instead of Jesse Öst.
The very first thing Alexey Eremenko Sr. stressed as SJK’s new manager was the importance of team spirit. The 1-1 draw in the derby against VPS seemed to be a crucial factor to the team spirit, resulting in a dominant win against TPS after the international break.
Despite the lack of both depth and quality on both flanks – which means that the owner Raimo Sarajärvi’s son, Jesse, is still starting every match – SJK have one of the best squads in the league. There’s still a fair bit to work with but Eremenko could be the factor to pull SJK back to a top four finish. With that said, PS Kemi should not be an obstacle.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: SJK -0.50 at 1.910
IFK Mariehamn v RoPS
IFK Mariehamn had no chance against HJK at Telia 5G stadium last round. Their hosts exhibited how a true champion plays. Especially the opening goal was pure brilliance from Juha Pirinen, who made a fool out of Mariehamn’s right defense assisting Nikolai Alho’s header.
Albeit no other side would have had much to say to Pirinen’s excellence, the embarrassing side of Mariehamn’s defense was the fact that even in situations where they had more manpower over their hosts, HJK could easily take the advantage.
While RoPS grabbed a very fortunate home win against VPS, who dominated most of the match and where the hosts looked to be pleased with a draw, they still have an advantage in this matchup.
VPS played a solid match and when they do so, they are a very tough opposition for RoPS. In addition, away at Mariehamn, RoPS will have the opportunity to counter-attack a lot more often than against a disciplined VPS. Counter-attacks are RoPS’ filet mignon, led by Lassi Lappalainen. Let that man free on a counter-attack and you will witness pure gold.
The thing here is that every single team in Veikkausliiga, including a worthless TPS – and excluding HJK away – are expected to dominate possession when home. This is a concern for Mariehamn against opponents who feed off counter-attacks. Teams such as RoPS can force Mariehamn to try to take the responsibility of creating chances, only to lure for a striking comeback.
The rather toothless performance against VPS is the only reason to hold me a bit secure on this one. RoPS lost their peak sharpness from the beginning of the season, which will, in the end, be the reason why KuPS will thrive far away to the second place.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: RoPS 0.25 at 1.780