Two games tonight in the Veikkausliiga; RoPS vs HIFK and HJK vs Ilves

RoPS vs HIFK 18:30 Keskuskenttä, Rovaniemi
Bethard odds: 2.25 – 3.05 – 3.45

This is almost a must win game for the home side who has only gotten 4 points from their opening 5 games. Not the start that last season´s number 2 wanted. HIFK was predicted to finish at the bottom of the league, but their win against Honka in the last round has improved their chances. They are not as bad as people have thought.

There has been a lot of snow in Rovaniemi recently but the referee has given the ok for the game to go ahead.

RoPS team news

RoPS has had some disappointments regarding injuries this season with Reguero, Kokko and Stavitski all being out. All of them were considered as key players this season so they have given some advantage to the opponents. Without Kokko their goalscoring has been poor and they have failed to score in their last two games. Without main goalkeeper Reguero, they have missed leadership and also they have conceded 7 goals in five games without him.

At home they should be good but so far they have lost to both FC Honka and KuPS so they are off to a poor start. Last season they were one of the best home teams in the league.

Starting line up: Reguero – Taiwo, Sissoko, Katz, Hyvärinen – Muinonen, Lingman – Kaukua, Jäntti, Moraes – Rahimi

Kokko has already recovered so much that he is on the bench.

HIFK team news

HIFK has been working on improving their defense and hitting on the weaknesses on their opponents and it is slowly starting to work. They started the season with 1-0 losses to SJK and FC Lahti, but have then drawn with HJK and beaten FC Honka. The team is slowly starting to also improve on their offense and have a bit more chances. Defensively they are already good with a good goalkeeper in Origi.

One thing that can be an issue is that they have played with very few players. In their opening 4 games, they have only had 13 players who have started the game and the same seems to be going on here. Eventually there needs to be a bit more rotations as Veikkausliiga is an unforgiving league with many games in short period of time.

Starting line up: Origi – Sesay, Patronen, Mäntylä, Selander – Mattsson, Toro, Gela, Dunsby – Saira, Larsson

Prediction:

This should be a low scoring game with the draw very possible outcome. The teams did not meet last season but in the previous season they met 9 times with both teams winning twice and five time the match ending in a draw.  Bethard having 3.00 odds for the draw. Both teams are organised defensive teams so another pick is under 1.5 goals with 2.35 odds

HJK vs Ilves 18:30 Telia 5G Arena, Helsinki
Bethard odds: 2.00 – 3.15 – 4.20

This is the top match of the round. The biggest favourite to win the title against the team that is actually playing like they could win the title. HJK has had a bad start to the season and they have actually gotten less points from their opening 6 games than during the 2015 and 2016 seasons when they failed to win the title. Ilves on the other hand has not yet lost a game in 2019. This includes all the training matches, Finnish Cup and the Veikkausliiga.

When looking at the odds, Ilves looks like a must take except for one thing, Ilves has lost all their games in Helsinki against HJK ever since they came back to the Veikkausliiga in 2015.

HJK team news

HJK has a bit of a crisis going on in the team and they have been training behind closed doors to give the team some peace in preparing for this match that could either kickstart their season or put them in a lot more pressure. HJK has been poor. Even though they won their opening two matches, in both games they had to leave it late and were a bit lucky. After that they have failed to win. They drew with KuPS, SJK and HIFK and in all of those games, it would have not been unjust for them to lose. Only the great saves by Maxim Rudakov kept them in the game. Against Inter their luck ran out and they lost 4-1.

HJK has struggled with their playing style which is based on ball control. They try to build their attacks from the back but when they are put under pressure, they make mistakes and many of their opponents have been able to capitalize on that. Offensively also, they just move the ball but do not really penetrate defenses or create chances. They have only had 3 shots on goal in their last few games.

The fact that they trained behind closed doors means that there will be changes.

Starting line up: Rudakov – Toivomäki, Rafinha, O´shaughnessy, Elderson – Singh, Kairinen – Alho, Lappalainen, Mensah – Bueno

Looks like they return to their 4 at the back which should make their defense better and less error-prone.

Ilves team news

Ilves has been by far the best team so far in the Veikkausliiga. They have played four games where they have won three and drawn one and are still yet to concede a goal. They are also in the Finnish Cup semi-finals so the season has started pretty well. They have a great head coach in Jarkko Wiss who has been able to create an organised playing system with a low budget that basically just makes all the players better. They find the weaknesses of their opponent and then exploit them. The quality of the players might not be as good as the bigger teams but there is no denying that they play best as a team.

They have lacked some offensive power in their opening games but still they have managed to get 10 points from their first four games. They have not gotten even a point against HJK in Helsinki since they came back to the Veikkausliiga but right now they have never had a better chance.

Starting line up: Hilander – Addy, Miettunen, Mensah – Aspegren – Jair, Siira – Tendeng, Ala-Myllymäki, Yusif – Fofana

Prediction:

They games between the teams usually have a lot of goals, but this looks different. Ilves is already a very organised unit defensively with a great goalkeeper and with HJK lacking in offensive abilities at the moment, there might not be that many goals. Main pick is Double chance X2 and a small bet on Ilves to win. HJK better have had some great “behind closed doors” training sessions to improve enough to get something from this game.

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