UA-52481335-1 UEFA Europa League 11 July - Football Finland
Football Finland

UEFA Europa League 11 July

UEFA Europa League 11 July: Ilves vs Slavia Sofia, FC Lahti vs FH and KuPS vs FC Copenhagen

Ilves vs Slavia Sofia 19:00 Telia 5G Arena, Helsinki
Odds 2.16 – 3.10 – 3.20– Bet NOW at RedKings

This is a first leg match of the UEFA Europa League 1st qualifying round.

Ilves will have to play their first Euro Cup game in 27 years in Helsinki as their normal stadium Tammela does not meet the UEFA criteria and their back-up stadium of Ratina is hosting the Athletics U20 world championships at the same time. Ilves has played on this Telia 5G Arena before and the artificial turf might give them the advantage. Their last Euro Cup game, 27 years ago was against AS Roma where they drew at home 1-1 but lost 5-2 away.

Ilves is known for their organised and disciplined defense where they try to press the ball and counter attack very fast. This has worked sometimes in the Veikkausliiga as the team is very young and their performances have varied. They are currently 7th in a tight Veikkausliiga but only 6 points behind a Top-3 place. From their last five games they have one win, three draws and one loss. The biggest problem that Ilves has is goal scoring. They are lacking a striker who could put the ball into the net consistently. Their top scorer is Marius Noubissi, but he misses way more chances than what he puts in. They have scored 17 times this season which is the 2nd worse record in Veikkausliiga, with under 1 goal per game in average.

Slavia Sofia is the Bulgarian Cup champion from last year. Their league does not start until next week so they have mainly been playing friendlies and one Super Cup match against Ludogorets that they lost 1-0. The team consists mainly of Bulgarian players with a couple of exceptions.

Ilves team news:

They will miss Baba Mensah who has been injured all season. Ilari Mettälä and Eero Hyökyvirta are doubts. Jusuf Ali continues his trial with Dinamo Zagreb and will miss this match.

Prediction:

This should be a very low scoring match. Under 2.5 goals.

FC Lahti vs FH 19:00 Lahden Stadion, Lahti
Odds 2.34 – 3.10 – 2.80– Bet NOW at RedKings

This is a first leg match of the UEFA Europa League 1st qualifying round.

First of all, even though this match is played in Lahti, this is not the FC Lahti home stadium. Their normal stadium, Kisapuisto, is not suitable for UEFA matches so they had to take it to the Lahti Stadium which is mainly used for athletics.

FC Lahti probably had the easiest draw from all the Finnish teams, but FH has knocked out Finnish teams before, most recently in 2015 when they beat SJK twice in the Europa League qualifiers.

This is only the 3rd time that FC Lahti will play in Europe. In 2009 they made it to the 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League where they suffered a narrow loss to Belgian Club Brugge 3-4. Three years ago they were knocked out already on the first qualifying round by Swedish club Elfsborg 2-7.

FC Lahti has been the team most difficult to beat in the Veikkausliiga this season, but their form is dipping after two straight losses in last two games. The biggest problem for FC Lahti has been in scoring goals, more specifically the finishing. They can create plenty of chances but they cannot put the ball into the net. They are missing a clear goal scorer. Their defense is their best part. They have conceded only 14 goals in their 18 matches which is the 3rd best record in the league. They have had some defensive injuries, suspensions and tranfers recently so it is no longer as solid as it was at the start of the season, but they are still very organised and difficult to break down. They have lost only once at home this season in the league (their last game), but as said in the beginning, this match is not played on their home stadium so the home advantage is not as big.

FH Hafnarfjarðar is one of the most successful clubs in Iceland. They have now played 15 seasons in a row in Europe and in total 62 games so they are very experienced on this level. Their best season was last season in Europe where they made it to the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League but were knocked out narrowly by Maribor. In the Europa League playoff round, they were again narrowly knocked out by Portuguese club Braga 3-5.

FH is currently 4th in the Icelandic Urvaldsdeild after 12 rounds. They are 6 points behind leaders Stjarnan and this is a disappointment as they have a team good enough to fight for the title. Their biggest problem has been in defense. Last season they only conceded 25 goals in 22 games but this season they have conceded already 17 goals. Their biggest threat offensively is again Scottish Steven Lennon who has scored already 8 goals this season. This is already his fifth season with FH.

Lahti team news:

They will miss Timi Voutilainen but will have their two new signings Oskari Forsman and Ville Salmikivi available.

Prediction:

Our prediction here is under 2.5 goals and FH draw no bet. FC Lahti struggling with scoring goals and FH will want to keep the score low for the 2nd leg. FH has more experience on this level and with FC Lahti dipping in form, they can win this match.

KuPS vs FC Copenhagen 19:00 Savon Sanomat Areena, Kuopio
Odds 6.00 – 3.80 – 1.50– Bet NOW at RedKings

This is a first leg match of the UEFA Europa League 1st qualifying round.

Out of all the Finnish teams, the draw for KuPS was the hardest. FC Copenhagen is probably the biggest, most successful club in Scandinavia and they are a regular in European competition group stages. For KuPS, this is the 12th time they take part in European competition. Their best achievement is from 6 years ago when they made it to the 3rd qualifying round, having beaten Llanelli and Maccabi Netanya. In the 3rd round they beat Turkish club Bursaspor at home but suffered a heavy loss in the away leg.

KuPS finished 2nd last season in the Veikkausliiga. This season, they have been among the top teams all season, but they have been very inconsistent. They have been able to score goals, but defensively they have only managed to get three clean sheets. There has been a lot of rotation in the defensive line and they have made many errors. For this match, they will get for the first time their new loan signing; Finnish international central defender Juho Pirttijoki, who moved from Gif Sundsvall and their new striker, Brazilian Lucas Rangel. Pirttijoki is a known player for KuPS head coach Jani Honkavaara after his time with HIFK prior to KuPS. Rangel came from Austrian club Kapfenberger where he was their top goalscorer last season with 9 goals. It could be possible though that neither will play yet as they are lacking match fitness.

FC Copenhagen finished 4th last season in the Superliga which was a big disappointment for the big club who are accustomed to success. The team has had a few changes since last season as strikers Santander (Bologna) and Pavlovic (Rapid Wien) left the club. They were replaced by their former top scorer Dame N´Doye and Bosnian international Kenan Kodro. They also signed Finnish international goalkeeper Jesse Joronen so there is a Finnish interest in this match. The Danish Superliga won´t start until this weekend so Copenhagen has only played friendlies so far. They first lost to Lyngby and Sturm Graz. They then drew with Maribor and beat CSKA Moscow in their last two games. In each match they substituted a lot of their players during the game so the team might lack some organised match fitness.

Even though KuPS rarely plays in Europe and this should be interesting to their fans, they have put high ticket prices which will surely keep fans from the stadium, thus the stadium will not be packed.

KuPS team news:

They will have both of their new signings Juho Pirttijoki and Rangel available for this match. Reuben Gabriel and Tabi Manga are both doubts.

Prediction:

Our prediction here is both teams to score. KuPS is really good going forward and at home they should score at least once against a team who is still in pre-season despite the quality difference. Defensively KuPS has been poor all season so the quality strikers that FC Copenhagen has, can score also.

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