There are 3 matches in the Veikkausliia on Saturday 13 April: FC Inter vs SJK, KPV vs RoPS and KuPS vs HJK and here are their match previews.

FC Inter vs SJK 15:00 Veritas Stadion, Turku
Bethard odds: 1.95 – 3.30 – 4.05

FC Inter dominated the games last season against SJK after beating them 2-0 at home and 0-1 away. The last match ended in a 2-2 draw on the final day of the season. These are the two teams who have the second highest budgets in Finnish football behind HJK. With those amounts, you would expect them to do better in the league than what they have done the past few seasons.
2018: Inter was 7th (but won the cup) and SJK was 9th.
2017: Inter was 9th and SJK 6th.
2016: Inter was 11th and SJK 3rd.

These are big teams and their squads should be capable for fighting for a Top-5 position each season. This season, Inter looks to be a bit closer to that target than SJK.

FC Inter Team News:

Inter changed a lot from last season with new players and new head coach and it is starting look like they might be actually better. Offensively they brought in Filip Valencic who could be one of the best players in this league if he can keep a calm head. Also there is a risk that he might leave during the Summer if he plays too good but for now, he has made a great partnership with Mika Ojala who has found new life in his game after struggling with exhaustion. They have also gotten some other good foreigners for their defense and with a more clearer playing style, they might be in that Top-5 at the end of the season.

So far the start has been promising as they played well in the Finnish Cup but a couple of mistakes cost them a semifinal spot as they lost to VPS at home 1-2. This loss was avenged in their last game in the league as they beat VPS in Vaasa 1-2. The VPS game was more like the Inter you would expect as they dominated the game and only a small lapse allowed VPS to get back in it. The earlier loss to HJK was a pure defensive effort which for Inter did not end well with the 2-1 loss.

This match will be played on natural grass so it is a different surface for both teams. Due to the cold weather, neither have been able to train that much on natural grass yet.

SJK Team News:

SJK managed to keep the core group of players from last season and also add a couple of interesting names, but still they are missing a good first striker to score the goals. Billy Ions could be that person, but he has been injured for a long time and its a question mark if he can return with the same level as he was. Goal scoring has been a big problem for SJK. Last season they scored the least amount of goals in the Veikkausliiga (28) and from their 33 games, 24 of them ended in under 2.5 goals which was by far the biggest amount in the league. Defensively they are good but even though they beat HIFK in their last game 1-0, they struggled to create chances.

In the Finnish Cup they failed to win any of their games so they are not playing their best at the moment. Many have already questioned the quality of Aleksei Eremnko Sr as a head coach and if he will be able to get the offense better. Defense is already working good though as the under 2.5 goals last season showed.

Prediction:

With the pitch condition being what it is, this could become a match of who wants it more. The VPS game showed that Inter has the will to get the 3 points more. Inter to win. Bethard having 1.95 odds

KPV vs RoPS 15:00 OmaSp Stadion, Seinäjoki
Bethard odds: 3.35 – 3.10 – 2.25

KPV has already beaten RoPS twice in the Cup this season but it will be very difficult for them to win for a 3rd time. This match is again played in Seinäjoki so KPV will not have home advantage. Both teams have been active in the transfer market this week with RoPS improving their offense with Youness Rahimi and KPV signing striker Filip Ivanovski. Ivanovski is an interesting signing as he started last season with RoPS but his contract was not extended for the whole season despite scoring 6 goals. If they can get all the license papers done, he might come back and bite his old team on Saturday.

KPV Team News:

KPV is newly promoted but they have a good squad and could fight for a place in the Top-6 if everything goes well but that did not show in their opening game against Ilves. KPV was not at all ready for that match and a more prepared Ilves basically just ran them over taking the 3 points. Kokkola did managed a couple of chances in the second half but basically the game did not go as they hoped. Now they have a chance to redeem themselves against a team they know very well.

KPV beat RoPS 0-2 in the group stage of the Finnish Cup and then again 1-2 in the quarter finals. In the first match they were the dominant team but in the second match, KPV needed a bit of luck and poor RoPS defending to get the win. The visitors will not lose too easily here now.

RoPS Team News:

RoPS started the season as a Top-5 team but have had a lot of problems with injuries at the start of the season. Still that has not taken away their quality. They have a clear playing system and only some defensive errors have cost them. When they get some players back from injury, most notably goalkeeper Reguero and striker Kokko, then they should play a lot better.  RoPS is an organised team but with the injuries, that has not shown yet in their defense with both KuPS and Honka able to score 2 goals against them. Despite KPV able to score twice against them, their offensive threat will be lower than for those mentioned teams.

Prediction:

I expect a lot tighter game so there should not be that many goals. The under 2.5 goals odds is a bit too tight 1.58 so both teams to score – no offers a bit better value with 1.74. Depending on the RoPS injury situation, even an away win is an option. Bethard having 2.25 odds

KuPS vs HJK 17:00 Savon Sanomat Areena, Kuopio
Bethard odds: 3.35 – 3.25 – 2.20

This is the big match of the round between last season´s 3rd, KuPS and the champions HJK. HJK has dominated this derby usually, but during recent years, KuPS has managed to get a couple of wins, but mainly away from home. In the last 10 meetings in Kuopio, HJK has won 5, drawn 4 and only once has KuPS won in the Veikkausliiga. Both teams were disappointed in the Cup as neither made it through from the Group stage. Now this match could already be a decider for the home team and how their season will progress. They almost have to win this one.

KuPS Team News:

KuPS has started their Veikkausliiga season with two draws, first 2-2 against RoPS and then 3-3 against FC Lahti away from home. When you just look at the results, you could say, not too bad but when you look closer, you can see big potential problems creeping in for KuPS. In both of those matches, the opponent was able to equalise in the final 5 minutes of the game. To make it more worrying, KuPS was leading 0-3 at half time against FC Lahti but could not hold on. Their biggest problem is in defense. The players do not play well with each other. To try to fix this, instead of just giving them more playing time to sort it out, they got more new players. So now the team has a huge amount of Veikkausliiga level defenders and none of them can play well with each other. This leads to mistakes and those lead into goals for the opponent.

The offense is not that much better either. Even though they have scored 5 goals in 2 games, you can say that they have been a bit lucky. Against Lahti they had 3 shots on goal and all of them went it. Also those goals were scored by their excellent offensive players from individual efforts. The team does not attack that well as a group. They are not creating offensive chances as a group. Those goals have mainly just happened. The later the season goes, the better other teams will defend. Of course KuPS offense can improve as well but still it is a worry especially now that HJK comes into town.

HJK Team News:

HJK may have won both of their opening games but 2-1 wins at home against Inter and IFK Mariehamn are not that convincing. They are not firing with all their cylinders yet. Elderson has not played yet and their supposedly main striker Marco Bueno did not play against Mariehamn. Even in his opening game against Inter, he looked a bit lost. HJK is currently very vulnerable like the Finnish Cup showed. Someone can beat them, but KuPS might not be the right team at this moment.

HJK managed to beat both Inter and IFK Mariehamn right at the end. Despite this, they dominated the match but were unable to breakdown the solid defense that the opponents put in front of them. Still they managed to grind out wins and that is what champions do when playing poorly. Now against KuPS they should be able to play a bit more openly as KuPS defense is not as good at the moment. This can make them more vulnerable also to counter attacks from KuPS who have excellent offensive players so I expect an open game here.

Prediction:

Main pick here is over 2.5 goals but also HJK win by 1 goal exactly is possible. Bethard having 1.95 odds for over 2.5 goals and 3.85 odds for HJK exact 1 goal win.

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