The Veikkausliiga continues tonight with two games, HJK vs IFK Mariehamn and VPS vs FC Inter
HJK vs IFK Mariehamn 18:30 Telia 5G Arena, Helsinki
Bethard odds: 1.25 – 5.90 – 10.50
HJK already started their season with a 2-1 win over FC Inter last Wednesday. This will be the first match for IFK Mariehamn in the league even though in the Cup they have already made it into the last 4. The teams met earlier in the Cup this season with the match being played indoors and finishing 2-2. Mariehamn has never beaten HJK in Helsinki. Out of the 29 games they have played in Helsinki, HJK has won 23 and 6 times they have drawn. The last 5 games in the league have ended in HJK wins with a goal difference of 8-0.
HJK team news
HJK had a poor start to the season in the Finnish Cup as they failed to progress from the group stage. In the first match of the Veikkausliiga though they played well against FC Inter, but had to wait until the 2nd half and substitute Mensah to score twice to win the game. They can play so much better still but not sure if that is the case yet.
HJK might play a bit more offensively here than against FC Inter where they played with three Defensive midfielders on the pitch at the same time. Putting a more offensive number 10 than Dahlström would create even more chances and make it easier for HJK to open up. Riski and Toivomäki are doubts after they got knocks in the Inter match.
IFK Mariehamn team news
IFK Mariehamn is a bit of an enigma. After they won the Veikkausliiga a few seasons ago, they have been on the downtrend. This year though the team looks really good at least on paper. From the experienced players they lost top scorer Kangaskolkka and main defender Kojola who both retired. On top of those, they lost several other players as well. Now though, they have gotten some good players from Sweden and most notably former Finnish international Daniel Sjölund. Even though he is 35, when fit, he is one of the best players in the league, but as it stands, he is not fit for this match.
Mariehamn had a good pre-season with the success in the Finnish Cup and some good games in the friendlies. For instance they lost only 1-0 to Örebrö a couple of weeks ago. This team could be anywhere from positions 3-11 this season. All depends how the key players stay fit as they lack depth and if Aristote Mboma will have his goal scoring boots on. He has lacked good finishing in his previous seasons.
If this would be played later in the season, this should be a clear HJK win, but both teams still have a lot of questions marks so main pick is IFK Mariehamn +2 handicap. Bethard having 1.95 odds for this.
VPS vs FC Inter 18:30 Elisa stadion, Vaasa
Bethard odds: 3.05 – 3.10 – 2.40
The teams met in Turku in the Finnish Cup quarter final just 10 days ago with VPS winning 1-2 and progressing to the semi-finals. Since then FC Inter went to Helsinki on Wednesday to lose their season opener to HJK 2-1 in the Veikkausliiga. For VPS, this is the first match of the season in the league.
VPS has been dominating Inter during the past couple of seasons with VPS winning 5 from the last 7 meetings with the last two ending in a draw. This season though, Inter is expected to finish a lot higher than VPS in the league.
Really bad weather expected during this match.
VPS team news
VPS starts another season under Petri Vuorinen. The good thing is that the team has a clear playing style and the players execute it well. The bad news is that VPS does not have that much money so the quality of the players might be a bit lacking. The expectation is that VPS will start the season well but eventually the lack of depth will show and they will start losing games and ending up in mid-table. This season they might even end up in the bottom half fighting to avoid relegation according to most pundits.
VPS has had a good pre-season as their losses to Ilves and KPV have been the only ones. They even drew with Swedish Club GIF Sundsvall so they are starting well. VPS will miss from this match Aatu Kujanpää, Jesper Engström, Mika Kaarre, Juho Lähde and Alain Richard Ebwelle.
FC Inter team news
FC Inter looks like a completely different team this season. They are very well built and they have now a clear way to play. Still though they got knocked out of the Cup by VPS and they lost their first match in the league to HJK 2-1. HJK is the most difficult away game in the league but still Inter barely had chances. This game should be completely different as they are now the favourites to win.
FC Inter will miss only Albion Ademi from this match.
VPS was not a very good home team last season but still they have the upper hand against Inter usually. Main pick here is VPS +0.25AH Bethard having 1.81 odds for this.