It is time for the ultimate preview of Veikkausliiga 2018. Although the table is still open for the final European position and the league qualifying position, most of the focus around Finnish football has been around the league format. As I am writing, it looks like we are awaiting a new format for next year. Albeit a change has been in a dire need for a few years, I am not sure whether this potential change will be an improvement.
FC Honka v VPS
Former Veikkausliiga icon Vesa Vasara, who was a childhood favorite of mine during his HJK days, has pulled off an amazing season with the newcomers Honka. There is a lot of similarities with Honka’s previous uplift to Veikkausliiga, which took place 12 years ago. Back then it was the reigning champion, Mika Lehkosuo, who was managing the Espoo club.
Honka have, once again, taken over Veikkausliiga with so-called modern – whatever that means whenever – football. Just like last time they were promoted, they have been relying on a prominent striker. Hermanni Vuorinen was the hero 12 years ago, this time it is Mac Kandji who has been the joker up in Vasara’s sleeve.
However, this time their fate lies in the hands of KuPS. A win is not enough for the promotees, no matter how big of a victory they would get against VPS. KuPS must either draw or lose.
It is easy to assume that Honka gets an automatic win against an opponent that has barely – or possibly actually nothing – to play for. If certain changes are made for next year’s Veikkausliiga, the battle between VPS, FC Lahti, and FC Inter for the 6th position and an additional home game will be pointless.
With that said, I am sure that the VPS squad could not have given a lesser crap about it even before. What is of importance in this matchup lies somewhere else.
First of all, Honka has not beaten VPS this season, yet. So far, it has been a draw and a VPS win. Figuring that these two clubs are quite often compared against each other, it is an interesting record. Also, VPS previous loss against RoPS was, at least, somewhat unlucky. Both of RoPS goals came from stupid individual mistakes, which has been a common theme for VPS this year. Nonetheless, the odds are just way too favored for Honka here. Sure, VPS might lose, but simply give up? I do not think so.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS 1.50 at 1.892
FC Lahti v PS Kemi
Last week I had so much wrong about both of these sides.
First of all, FC Lahti killed Ilves’ remaining hopes of gaining that final spot for Europe 2019. Lahti’s defensive plan worked out perfectly, allowing only one shot inside the box, which was barely inside the box. Also, that shot missed the target. So, Ilves did not really get any good shots.
In contrast, Lahti won the statistics in offensive efficiency for the first time in ages. They had plenty of more, okay just two more, shots inside the box. And guess what? One of those shots gave them that winning goal.
I do not know what exactly struck both Ilves and Lahti, because Ilves looked like they knew that they would be in this position after that round, and FC Lahti looked like they actually had a lot to fight for. Veikkausliiga man, sometimes I just do not know.
Now, if I had wrong about FC Lahti, geez did I have wrong about PS Kemi. IFK Mariehamn were supposed to kind of secure their league contract against a historically miserable PS Kemi whom basically no one hopes to ever again see in Veikkausliiga, but you know, that of course did not happen. Mariehamn went and lost 2-0 at Kemi, obviously.
So, I do not know about you, but I think that neither side has anything to play for, besides honor and all that secondary crap. Henceforth, I think Kemi are heavily undervalued in such a pointless game.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: PS Kemi 1.50 at 1.632
SJK v Inter Turku
Last round was kind of up for grabs for SJK, IFK Mariehamn, and TPS to do something dramatical about the next-to-last position, but of course, they did nothing to change the situation. Instead, they all lost their respective match. Which is kind of expected from teams that are struggling for survival, but still, just do something exciting!
SJK had probably the most peculiar situation last round, when they visited HJK, who had already secured their title. You just never know what to expect from such sides, but it did end in a home victory.
Which in other circumstances would be acceptable and expected, but this time HJK were actually very half-hearted in the game and allowed SJK to step forward the first half. League-leading striker João Klauss’ magnificent opening goal was enough to seal the score, and that was without HJK even trying.
Inter, on the other hand, had a tough time against Honka. Martin Borjas, who deserves a spot in my XI of the season, scored the opening goal very deservedly. Inter somewhat revived after the conceded goal but Honka were closer to a 0-2 until a set piece was cleared from the Honka goal-line.
Honka responded with a counter-attack, which resulted in a direct red card and a 0-2 free kick from Hervas. Honka won as it they were supposed to, but a 1-1 draw was not too far from to happen.
Towards the end of the season I think that it has become progressively clearer that squad quality overruns every other category, although I quite clearly have failed to show that. The stakes of the game play a very secondary value. With that said, in this matchup, I would actually favor Inter in quality, albeit their obvious flaws, but SJK are where they deserve to be, and that is because of lack of quality.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Inter Turku 0.50 at 2.110
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