HJK v KuPS

HJK has had a historic start to the season, as they’ve grabbed full points from their opening three matches. The previous time this occurred was back in 1993, and considering they’ve won the title 10 times since that, the rest of the league should be afraid.

… And some should be more afraid than others, especially KuPS. The boys in yellow were media favorites to challenge HJK for the title, but their start has been quite the opposite to the favorites. They’ve managed to gain only one point so far. However, their defeats have been narrow.

In their previous loss, KuPS made their worst performance so far, although RoPS made the opening and winning goal in the very last minute of the game. The squad renewal has been far from a success so far. What we’ve seen so far is players not knowing where they have each other.

Egyptian international Abdalla El Said made his first appearance in front of home fans but – quite understandably – is still like a sheep without its shepherd. The defensive line is equally lost without Nikko Boxall, whose departure has been perhaps a bigger loss than expected.

Since the season opener, HJK has done exactly enough to win at Mariehamn and SJK. It’s not that they are letting the opponents get too close, but they execute well enough to score that one goal.

It would sound like HJK are humongous favorites in this matchup, which they absolutely are, however, not big enough to completely walk over KuPS. Yes, KuPS have a lot of issues to solve, but so did IFK Mariehamn. HJK will take the home victory, but not by a gigantic margin. The market is leaning too much towards the home side, so let’s try to use it to our advantage.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: KuPS 1.5 at 1.830

SJK v Honka

Just like KuPS, SJK is on the brink of a catastrophic start to the season. The second favorites to finish as runner-ups could at least beat TPS by 2-0, although the result didn’t do the Turku side justice.

However, neither has the record (1-0-2) done justice to SJK. Their defeat in the season premiere against PS Kemi was almost absurdly unfortunate. The home side created chance after chance at OmaSp stadium, but it was the visitors who took three points home to Lapland.

Meanwhile, Honka has taken two solid draws against KuPS, where Honka was closer to a win in the end, and against Lahti in a true snooze fest. Honka has the potential to be perceived as one of the most boring sides in this campaign since coach Vasara’s pragmatic collectivism ensures a tight defense.

There are some similarities to last year’s VPS, although Vasara seems to have a lot more diversion in his game. We could see this in the 1-1 draw at KuPS. They were also closer than Lahti to a win, but they still have some issues in the offense to solve.

On the tactical side, SJK gaffer Tommi Kautonen has a lot more to think about. ‘Auge’ was sent off by the ref against HJK and was forced to watch the final quarter from the stands. Obviously, that’s not the issue he needs to solve, although he’ll be suspended from this clash. Him relying on wide play completely on fullbacks hasn’t worked out really at all. Additionally, after an initial struggle to penetrate SJK defense, HJK found an effective way to get past SJK midfield through long passes, often switching sides.

Neither side has played a match so far that has ended in over 2 goals. I see no reason why it would change in the clash between these two clubs.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.5 at 1.770

IFK Mariehamn v VPS

If SJK has started the season badly, and KuPS even worse, then IFK Mariehamn have had the worst start. The Islanders were completely harmless at Rovaniemi in the 2-0 defeat, and in their home opener against HJK, it was hard to say if the pitch or the home side was in worse shape.

Thomas Mäkinen had an exciting start at Italian club Renate, but his stint became a disappointment after struggling with injuries and playing time. His return hasn’t so far been that more promising. Without a hurt Petrovic, the midfield has been the opposite of threatening, although Niclas Maripuu is doing a great job from the bottom of the midfield.

Aleksei Kangaskolkka at the top is like going all-in with a high card that is not an ace. Last season’s top scorer in Veikkausliiga has been a shadow of himself, although he shouldn’t get all the blame. The issues lie further down the pitch, where Mariehamn lack both quality and ideas.

Visitors VPS started the season with a surprisingly strong performance, beating Inter 2-0. There wasn’t a shadow of a doubt who’d win the game after VPS opened the scoring. There was a hopeful and positive atmosphere before the clash against RoPS, despite lacking injured lads in Joonas Vahtera, Steven Morrissey, and Juho Lähde.

VPS fell very short in that game, and it was a pure mirror image of the first game. This time there was no shadow of a doubt that VPS would lose the game. Vuorinen’s gameplan failed on stopping RoPS strong left flank, with much thanks to Hindrek Ojamaa, who’s been a huge disappointment since joining from JJK.

Although VPS made a disappointing performance against RoPS, IFK Mariehamn are the ones that are dysfunctional. VPS’ last win against Mariehamn is from 2015, and their last away win against the Islanders is from 2014, which explains why Mariehamn are slightly favored here. This match will be short of goals, but I trust VPS can grab at least a point this time.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS 0.25 at 1.900

By Petteri Räisänen – @konformisten from @FootballUtd

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