TPS v RoPS

Promotees TPS got their first points in an immense derby victory against Inter Turku last weekend. The boys in black and white played like a team in contrast to their city rivals and took a well-deserved 1-2 victory.

However, the goals for TPS came quite cheaply from individual errors, so it didn’t really solve their woes with goal scoring. Although a mental relief and boost, a derby win is in its own world compared to the regular matches. I expect TPS to continue playing fairly nice football, creating a moderate amount of chances, falling short on them due to lack of quality.

League leaders RoPS continued their perfect stroll by beating Lahti at home Wednesday. The Lapland club has won each of their five games and is yet to concede a goal. Can TPS be the club to set a stop to either run? I don’t think so, and I’ll let you know why.

Firstly, former HJK reserves Klubi 04 coach Toni Koskela has implemented a very efficient ball possession system to his new club. At the beginning of his contract, RoPS results were poor and the man was criticized for being a copy of VPS gaffer Petri Vuorinen, with worse results. However, Koskela has shown that possession football can be played with long passes, too. The blue and whites sliced through Lahti midfield with either very quick counter-attacking or through long balls. Sure, long balls have their risk, but losing possession on the opposite side isn’t a too big price to pay.

Secondly, as I earlier said, TPS is still not convincing up front. Why they would be the ones to crack the 35-year old goalkeeper-veteran Reguero’s clean run is a blank list of arguments. RoPS central midfield consisting of the old fox Antti Okkonen and the Portuguese giant Wato Kuate – who by the way is worth a watch, what a combination of raw physicality and technique – bites aggressively on the enemy as soon as they get the ball towards the center on RoPS half. TPS can’t get past that.

Unless Mika Laurikainen – a respectable coach, too – finds a way for his lads to switch sides fast and well enough, TPS won’t get to too many proper scoring chances. RoPS value here is immense, and I find it very much worth to put trust in Koskela’s high flying boys.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: RoPS -0.50 at 2.830

KuPS v FC Lahti

Speaking of high flying boys, the highest flying lad at this moment is a midfielder called Petteri Pennanen, and he plays for KuPS. The 27-year old netted four times at IFK Mariehamn, giving his side a proper 1-4 win. The last time one player netted four goals in a Veikkausliiga match was Akseli Pelvas 2015.

Albeit a tremendous effort, let’s not give all the credit to the top scorer. Colombian Luis Murillo continued terrorizing from the left flank and has proven to be one of the top signings of the year, possibly the best left fullback in the league. Additionally, Egyptian star Abdalla El Said is slowly but surely getting into a World Cup form.

The first half at Wiklöf Holding Arena was a competition, as the home side opened the scoreline and the halftime result was 1-1. However, after the break, there was only one team on the field, and there was no doubt of who would grab the full points.

After a solid 2-0 victory against Ilves with one man short after score opener, Henri Anier was sent off, the Europa League qualifying club fell after a bleak performance 2-0 to Rovaniemi.

Lahti’s midfield was paper thin against RoPS both in defense and offense. Defensively, they were very vulnerable to through balls and wide attacks, while in the offense, they rarely got past even RoPS midfield to challenge the defensive line. The visitors best chance was a shot from 20+ meters distance.

At Rovaniemi, Lahti showed signs of match fatigue. Although KuPS has played as intensely, they have all of the following as their advantage: home turf, quality, and quantity. It wouldn’t surprise me if Lahti puts in an even more tired effort than at RoPS, which won’t demand too much from KuPS to get a home win.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: KuPS -0.50 at 1.909

PS Kemi v IFK Mariehamn

After a very lucky away victory in the season opener at SJK – the home side’s xG was like at least above 2 and the home sides well below 1 – Kemi’s season has rolled on more along the terms of reality.

The victory was followed by a ludicrous 2-4 home defeat to an unstable Inter, whose only additional point came from a fairly dull 0-0 draw against HJK. In their previous match, Kemi lost in a lopsided Lapland derby to league leaders RoPS by 3-0, and to be honest it could’ve ended even nastier.

So, it sounds quite horrible for Kemi, however, their visitors are in even deeper waters. With only one point, which came from a 2-2 draw at home against a VPS, who conceded their goals very cheaply, IFK Mariehamn is on the verge of crisis. Some even say that they’ve passed that point.

Well, yes it does indeed look godawful. Their game lacks basically everything, from structure and clarity to trust and stability. Aleksei Kangaskolkka is so lonely at the top he might as well start shouting for Wilson, and their goalkeeper Marc Nordqvist, although only 20 years old, is an even bigger step back in quality from last year’s flop Andreas Vaikla.

However, IFK Mariehamn’s schedule has so far been perhaps the most challenging in the whole league. League leaders RoPS away in the opener, giants HJK at home, a decent side in VPS at home and a talented KuPS at home is a recipe for a disastrous start.

This match will tell us a lot about the relegation battle this season. Avoiding a defeat will salvage Kemi as the absolute worst side for at least a while. On the other hand, everything but a win will pull Mariehamn to the relegation battle. Albeit Kemi has the advantage of resting the mid-week round, Mariehamn has still more quality and the physicality to respond to Kemi’s working class football.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: IFK Mariehamn -0.50 at 2.250

By Petteri Räisänen – @konformisten from @FootballUtd

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