We’re at that point of the season when most of us are already congratulating HJK for the league title. However, I wouldn’t be that fast to do so, as we’re not even halfway there yet. Their road to Europa League looks smooth with a fortunate draw for the two first qualifying rounds. A failure, however, would surely put the favorites off in the league, too.
HJK v IFK Mariehamn
One thing that could slow down HJK’s locomotive towards the title is Alfredo Morelos’ transfer to Rangers. The Colombian netted 11 times in a dozen fixtures, which equals a goal every 89th minute. Astonishing stats, sure, but HJK’s goal scoring won’t vanish with El Bufalo.
Ghanaian winger Evans Mensah was simply brilliant when HJK made JJK look like a bad joke. In my opinion, the biggest relief and difference from the two previous seasons is the fact, that Atomu Tanaka doesn’t carry too big of a responsibility in offense.
HJK aren’t alone to lose a striker. IFK Mariehamn chose to release Lucky Mkosana back to New York City Cosmos. The Zimbabwean was not even close to what they looked for trying to replace Dever Orgill.
Left fullback Juha Pirinen may be suspended, but it shouldn’t be a too big blow for the home side. On the road, HJK can be shaken. KuPS wasn’t too easily beaten, and their only defeat so far came away in Vaasa. However, at home HJK are in their own class, once again.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: HJK -1.5 at 2.010
Ilves v SJK
Whatever you want to do on Thursday evening, don’t watch this match. Unless your only other option is to watch paint drying. Heck, that might even be more entertaining.
Is it the departure of Soisalo to Middlesbrough, or have all the opponents learned Ilves gaffer Jarkko Wiss all – or perhaps the only – tricks? I don’t know what it depends on, but Ilves offense is painful to watch.
SJK aren’t as awful, although they do look really lackluster for most of the time. Only Billy Ions skills make the difference for the most of it. Otherwise, the new coach Manuel Roca hasn’t yet managed to solve the tight knot SJK’s offense is in.
The changing process is a long one with Roca, and I’m doubtful if he’ll be allowed the time it requires. The results won’t start to drop for a while yet, and when they do, it’ll be way too late to even try to challenge HJK. It might even be too late to catch up the top three.
Albeit both sides have goalkeepers who’ve played bad compared to last season, it shouldn’t be a factor in this game. The dull offense and at least decent defense should keep this game low-scored.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.25 at 1.830
VPS v RoPS
VPS took a sweet 1-0 away win at the rivals SJK. It was a solid performance by Vuorinen’s lads, where the opponent wasn’t allowed to threaten nearly at all. A rarity, considering VPS poor record in Veikkausliiga at SJK.
If VPS win was sweet, then RoPS 2-0 home victory against Inter was as surprising, kind of. Shefki Kuqi’s teams cannot and have never won two Veikkausliiga games in row, so there’s that. Nevertheless, a win instead of a draw was a bit shocking.
In the end, these results play only a minor role in this game. Both teams are clearly profiled strategically, in which the home side beats its opponents from Rovaniemi. I’d be surprised if RoPS give VPS space, something most opponents have done this year in Vaasa, instead of relying on their trademark high pressure.
Juha Malinen is strategically very rigid, which is why RoPS have barely any alternatives to its plan A. Therefore, I don’t expect him to have learned the lesson VPS taught him earlier this year in Rovaniemi.
VPS have occasionally struggled at Elisa stadium this season, especially when defensively talented teams pull back. RoPS are neither defensively stable nor will they pull back. Simple enough?
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS -0.5 at 1.900
Prices correct at time of writing.
Contact us directly if you want to place your bets based on the above picks.
Not yet a member? Join Eastbridge Soccer Betting Broker today for all your Veikkausliiga betting!