Ilves v KPV

Tampere Ilves won its first title since 1990 as they beat IFK Mariehamn at Wiklöf Holding Arena in the Finnish Cup final by 0-2. It was a great triumph for the long input of coach Jarkko Wiss who has been doing miraculous works with limited resources.

However, it could have ended in a home win. The hosts were a huge threat in the first 20 minutes, creating several great scoring chances. Ilves goalkeeper Mika Hilander saved his team when his defense failed him but was also saved by Aristote Mboma’s poor finishing when he failed his defense.

The usually disciplined Ilves defense was weirdly shaky in the start of the final, which makes me wonder how mentally tough this squad is at the breaking point? This time they were saved by luck, and as they got the title, how will they cope it mentally in the league?

Their coming visitors from Kokkola had quite the opposite start to their previous game. In Niko Kalliokoski’s second match as head chief of KPV, the boys in green got a surprising start against Inter. The whole first half was for the most under the hosts’ control. However, a goal by Aleksi Paananen in injury time upset the hosts visibly prior to the halftime.

KPV were dangerous on the wide, although as per tradition, very weak defending on the wide as well. Isaac Shaze as a controlling deep midfielder has been a good choice by Kalliokoski, however, unfortunately he lost the Ghanaian to an injury after 10 minutes against Inter.

The central defenders are good enough to keep major threats away, but it will be a challenge for Kalliokoski to find a proper replacement for Shaze to solidify the defense of the central lanes.

After some drama in the offseason, which kept Kokkola born-and-raised Patrik Byskata unsigned until now, I think KPV might have a key solution to their problematic wide defense. Byskata has plenty of Veikkausliiga routine and should ease the load on either flank.

KPV are still to be stuck in the bottom of the table, however, I do not see Ilves bullying them completely. They were extremely close to knock Ilves out in the cup semi, and they have now a better system to visit the cup champions.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: KPV +1.25 at 1.617

Inter Turku v VPS

So, Inter were actually challenged by bottom team KPV at Kokkola. KPV continued with their very high pressure, although it has changed quite remarkably since Korhonen was sacked.

Inter’s build-up was sacked well by four KPV players in line blocking the wingbacks and the central midfielders Aleksi Paananen and Mikko Kuningas. Despite KPV having very slow centre backs, long balls never really made that big of a threat in the first half.

An equalizing goal in the very last moments of the first half rewarded Inter’s efforts, which I must say, showed how tough Inter are mentally. Despite the rather early goal by KPV, Inter never showed that the scoreboard was against them.

Their coming guests are not known for the same mental robustness. When conceding, they fear conceding even more, although their last defeat at home against KuPS signalled something a bit more positive. When in lead, VPS tend to lose their focus.

Petri Vuorinen had made some significant changes to VPS strategy during the international break. However, there is still a clear lack of quality at certain positions, which leads to costly mistakes in defence.

With the league’s MVP thus far in Filip Valencic, Inter simply are a too big challenge for VPS in my opinion. It would require a very poor game from both Valencic and Mika Ojala for VPS to get even a point from Turku.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Inter Turku -0.75 at 1.700

FC Honka v RoPS

For the first time since Mika Lehkosuo was coaching Honka, the rivalry between HJK Helsinki and Espoo Honka was reaching the same levels of intensity as the two teams met last round in Töölö.

Albeit the score was settled by only one goal, a beautiful free kick by Juha Hakola, there was a tension on the field that we have been missing from this rivalry for years. Honka challenged the blue and white giants in a fashion that makes Vesa Vasara’s squad a considerable threat for the title.

Although Honka’s start – and HJK’s for that matter as well – has been a bit hacky to the season, this win has the potential to be a culminating point for the Espoo side. However, what has been an issue thus far, and could be against RoPS, is the fact that Honka have struggled against bottom sides. KPV and HIFK got full points against Honka, whereas VPS managed to get an away draw at Tapiola.

Now, I would put RoPS a tier above those three sides in the ranking scale. However, what they do share is a high pressure. Fair enough, RoPS do not press as aggressively as KPV and HIFK but can do so at times, and for sure better than KPV.

Honka have clearly been vulnerable to quick transitions, where RoPS are at their best in offence. As Youness Rahimi has started to find his finest form, and the rest of the squad getting in shape, I see RoPS as a potential threat to the aspiring hosts.

Honka are big favourites here for a reason, however, I see RoPS having a fair shot at challenging the hosts. Vesa Vasara’s lads have slipped before this season after a great match, and I would not be surprised if they did so this time, too.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: RoPS +1.00 at 1.820

Preview by: @konformisten.

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