FC Lahti v VPS
These two clubs find themselves in the same pickle. Both were at one point of the season in a good position at third place but now, after falling into a spiral of draws and defeats, it requires a heavy uplift to reclaim that position.
Lahti’s negative trend started after their European campaign, just like VPS last year. Since their embarrassing exit against Icelandic FH, they have won only one out of six matches. Toni Korkeakunnas has stayed at the club for five years now, and it looks like it’s finally time for him to leave.
The offensive play has stagnated for a too long period, and although Korkeakunnas is a fine refiner of young talent, the club is not moving forward with him anymore. Their last defeat at Honka was another uninspiring performance, and we can almost surely count out Lahti from the race for the podium.
Although VPS failed once again to grab a win, they did make a whole lot better 90 minutes against IFK Mariehamn than Lahti did last round. Aleksei Kangaskolkka, who later was sent out, scored Mariehamn’s goal from their only chance in the whole match.
VPS are still not in the shape they were a month ago but are clearly lifting up after a horrendous 4-1 loss at TPS. Hindrek Ojamaa and Aatu Laatikainen will be suspended but El-Hadji Ciss is back after a long injury. His addition is crucial to the defensive line that has been shaky with the likes of Ojamaa. Laatikainen might be missed, but sometimes his role is of no use, which could be now against Lahti.
Lahti and VPS always play even matches, and with VPS moving towards a brighter period, I cannot see Lahti grabbing a home win this time.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: VPS 0.50 at 1.780
TPS v PS Kemi
TPS had an unlucky start at Tammela against Ilves as Lauri Ala-Myllymäki’s incredible header hovered over Jonathan Viscosi in the back of TPS net. Following that Ilves looked like what they usually do when leading against inferior opponents. Against both Kemi and TPS earlier this season Ilves have taken the lead and allowed their opponent to steer the game until the tank is empty and Ilves can strike another goal.
In other words, with the still struggling offense, although not as struggling as it was, TPS was ramming their head against a brick wall. Ilves are experts at introducing bottom-of-the-table sides to inefficient possession. TPS did it against other opponents earlier in the season, too, but dropped the concept as they realized how pointless it was.
PS Kemi had gone to an even more nihilistic survival tactic under the mysterious sports director David Hannah as a temporary coach. Now that they hired a fellow Brit, Steven Polack, it is a bit unclear what this means to the coaching situation. Hiring Polack was necessary in order to have a coach with a UEFA Pro License, but I doubt how much he will impact this season in the end.
Albeit Kemi moved from Åhman’s ambitious development in philosophy to Hannah’s Scottish brutish football, it has been a question of maximizing the result as an inferior side. Now that they face an equal, I expect to see a less deep-lying Kemi in Turku.
The battles between clubs in the relegation zone tend to be entertaining and a bit comical as well, but it often means a good deal of goals.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 2.060
RoPS v FC Honka
Inter stripped RoPS down on their offensive arsenal keeping a clean sheet and causing some unnecessary panic among RoPS supporters. Some are worried of goal scoring, however, Inter are, as I wrote in the previous preview, the best defensive team in Veikkausliiga for the moment.
Erfan Zeneli and Vahid Hambo have been exactly the additions RoPS were looking for as Lassi Lappalainen has had too much to carry on, and Aleksandr Kokko pulling an injury very soon after he signed for the club. Now, it is true that they are offensively not as mesmerizing as back in Spring, but they are for a reason comfortably at a second position.
Paradoxically, their visitors from Espoo are in a similar form with 8 points out of their 5 last games but the tone is not nearly as negative. On the contrary, Honka’s 2-0 victory over FC Lahti set up an apathetic atmosphere in Lahti, where the remaining hopes for this season were blown away.
Although Mac Kandji hit the net first after 90 minutes from the penalty spot, the class striker had plenty of chances to seal the game earlier. Lahti had absolutely nothing to come with at Tapiola, save for a screamer that hit the woodwork. Levänen, Borjas, and Savage had their opportunities as well, and it is nearly a wonder 2-0 came so late.
While Honka are in a brighter light and a more sharper trend upwards, I cannot rely on them against Toni Koskela. Koskela vs. Vasara is an exciting clash between two great coaches, and I feel confident both will find a way to penetrate the opposing defense.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 2.250