The Veikkausliiga continues on Sunday 15 April with two matches. Here are the match previews for Honka vs IFK Mariehamn and HIFK vs FC Lahti
Honka vs IFK Mariehamn 18:30 Tapiolan TN1, Espoo
Bethard odds: 1.52 – 3.90 – 6.55
IFK Mariehamn face another tough away trip to the capital area as they now face title chasing FC Honka in Espoo. The teams met once this season in the Finnish Cup with the match ending 0-0. Last season the matches were even also with two of the games in Espoo and Mariehamn ending is a draw. Honka did win the 3rd match on the island 1-2.
Honka team news
Honka has looked really strong during the pre-season and also in their season opener against RoPS in Rovaniemi. Their only “bad” result was in the Finnish Cup quarterfinals when they lost on penalties to Ilves. Honka looks stronger than last season when they just finished out of the Euro Cup places on 4th position. They are going for a Euro Cup places this season also but it would not be unheard of if they could challenge for the title also.
Honka was a good home team last season with a 9-5-2 record. Their only losses came against VPS and HJK and both by exaclty 1 goal. They only failed to score in three home games and in 11 of them, they scored 2 or more goals. Six of those game they won by 2 or a bigger goal difference.
Honka will miss Jonas Levänen from this match.
IFK Mariehamn team news
IFK Mariehamn had a poor last season as they finished just above the relegation zone on 10th position. Their biggest weakness was the away games where they had a 2-4-10 record. Only relegated TPS had a worse away record. This season the team has changed a lot, but they do look better as they have already made it into the Finnish Cup semifinals. Their season opener was also encouraging as they lost to HJK 2-1 with HJK scoring both of their goals in the last 5 minutes. The defense had held until then.
The condition of the pitch is a question mark but Honka to win with both teams scoring is the main pick. Bethard having 3.35 odds for this.
HIFK vs FC Lahti 18:30 Telia 5G Arena, Helsinki
Bethard odds: 2.95 – 2.90 – 2.60
This could already be considered a relegation fight as both teams are considered to finish in the bottom half this season. Both teams have changed a lot from last season and both have also head coaches who have not merited much previously. HIFK is a newly promoted team, but the season before, FC Lahti beat HIFK all three times. The teams met also this season in the Finnish Cup with Lahti winning 2-1.
HIFK team news
HIFK is a team full of question marks. They changed their organization model for this season which hoped to move them to a more professional direction. Many of their home grown players were let go and the team has actually signed 19 new players from which most of them are outside Finland. Also they have a new Norwegian head coach so this team has a lot of new elements in them. Anything can happen, but most likely they will fight to avoid relegation this season.
They started the season defending well against SJK but still lost 1-0 in the end. The defense seems to be working for them, but the offense is not clicking at least not yet.
FC Lahti team news
FC Lahti is another team with a lot of changes, but at least they have gotten more domestic than outside Finland players. Lahti finished 8th last season as the team struggled to score goals. They cut the budget for this season but have still managed to get some decent players. They lack a bit of depth but their starting 11 can compete.
In their season opener they were 0-3 down to KuPS at half time but managed to climb back to draw 3-3. This should give them a boost for this match. The HIFK defense though might be too difficult to break down.
Lahti will be without Jeronimo Amione and Irfan Sadik.
This game looks like a very low scoring game so the draw is the most likely outcome. I suggest taking half time draw though. Bethard having 1.90 odds for this.