Ilves v HJK
This will probably be the most spectacular match besides the Helsinki derbies what it comes to atmosphere. Tammela will be sold out and the away side has already sold out their section of 350 seats.
Interesting enough, both sides come from a disappointing result into to this highly expected match. Ilves had lost only once earlier this season, seeming nearly impossible to be defeated. Naturally, of all the teams to beat Ilves, it was FC Lahti who did so.
It was a typical Lahti win, where they created very little by themselves, although the goal was a beautiful piece of quick reaction to possession gain. Lahti defended for the most pretty well against Ilves, who had a tough time to penetrate the compact defensive lines of Lahti.
Nevertheless, Ilves did create enough of chances to score at least once, however, poor finishing and some clutch saves from Rakovsky kept the away side scoreless. This defeat was a marginal one, and I would not be too worried about Ilves.
HJK’s Champions League campaign was starting off horribly, as they were visiting Faroe Islands. Torshavn took a two-goal lead but Riku Riski’s brace salvaged the Finnish champions from a complete embarrassment.
Failing to win comfortably away means that HJK have to take the home leg very seriously. This is troublesome for Toni Koskela, as this year’s edition of HJK has neither the quality to go that far in Europe nor the depth to rotate efficiently and successfully in the league games.
It has been a while since Ilves beat HJK, however, they have the best opportunity to do so this time.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves +0.25 at 1.680
VPS v FC Lahti
Despite – or perhaps because of – sacking Petri Vuorinen and appointing his assistant Christian Sund as the head manager, VPS continued to have some very low lows inside the 90 minutes, as they lost 1-0 at SJK.
The guests had a drowsy first 15 minutes where goalkeeper Martin Kompalla – for once – kept his team clean. The following 60 minutes was more or less under VPS control, creating a handful of half-good chances, but lacking those really, really good scoring opportunities.
VPS doom would be the final 15 minutes when they lost all control of the pace and possession. Once regaining the possession, players made suddenly easy errors and SJK could continue sending the ball towards their opponent’s box. Denys Olyinyk would be the clutch man, once again, for SJK, and in the end quite deservedly so.
However, there were some signs of positive changes. Jesper Engström played his first game ever on senior level as a center back and did it in a great fashion. The club icon made some clutch blocks and tackles, and stabilized the box defending and buildup in comparison to Eero-Matti Auvinen.
As I reported earlier, Lahti won in a very Lahti manner against Ilves. Their defense was doing a respectable job, although they should consider themselves lucky not to concede in the final minutes.
Lahti were the opponent to end VPS drought last time, and I could see that happening once again. As the visitors gained some safety in the table thanks to their last victory, I think they might slip just enough mentally for the home team to finally grab their first full three points for the season.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS DNB at 1.780
FC Inter v FC Honka
Inter had the unfortunate draw in the first round of UEL qualifications as they faced Danish giants Brøndby IF. The first leg in Copenhagen ended in a clear 4-1 home victory, leaving the Finns in front of an immense challenge on home soil.
Nonetheless, Inter chose to start with their sharpest starting eleven, indicating that they take the European campaign seriously. Good for the image of Veikkausliiga, not that good for Inter’s chances at Veritas against Honka.
Inter played with honor the first half against Brøndby, who were seemingly rather relaxed and comfortable with the result from the first leg, just like against VPS a few years ago.
Honka’s opening goal against HIFK was a beautiful demonstration of how poisonous Honka’s width of play can be. Honka are not exactly known for penetrating the opposition defenses through the most central lanes, instead, they like to play the ball wide and create positional advantages.
Quite the contrary to the earlier fixture against HIFK, Honka were simply superior to their opponents and had the game under control after a rather earlier opening goal. HIFK could not create any chances for Tiquinho, or anyone else for that matter, and looked exactly like a promoted side does against a top 3 candidate.
Honka have stumbled at times this year against severely weaker opponents, however, now that the schedule is easier on teams not competing in Europe, I think sides like Honka are at their strongest.
Inter may have put up a fair fight against Brøndby in a hopeless second leg, for nothing but a tad of respect and honor. It could have a dear price at Veritas against Honka.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Honka +0.25 at 1.760
Preview by: @konformisten.
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