Veikkausliiga is a weird league as they had only 1 game during the weekend but tonight Monday 20 May, we have 4 games: VPS vs RoPS, KPV vs HIFK, Ilves vs IFK Mariehamn and FC Lahti vs HJK.
VPS vs RoPS 18:30 Elisa Stadium, Vaasa
Bethard odds: 2.45 – 2.95 – 3.10
Things have not gone too well for either side this season as RoPS is 9th with 7 points and VPS is 10th with 6 points and still looking for their first win.
RoPS has been the dominant team in recent history between the two traditional sides as RoPS has won the last 4 games in the league including all three last season by 1 single goal. In this seasons Cup though VPS beat RoPS 2-1 in the group stages in February.
VPS team news
Like said before, VPS has not won yet in their opening seven games but at the same time, they have only lost once (Opening game to FC Inter). They are a very difficult team to beat as they can have moments of great football in them, but at the same time some bad one also. Last week they played in the Finnish Cup semi-final where they lost to IFK Mariehamn 1-3 at home and missed on a chance to qualify to Europe through there. They still have a chance to qualify through the league but it would require them to start winning and get into the Top-6.
VPS head coach Petri Vuorinen is confident that the first win will come soon. “Its only matter of time when we win. According to the chances that we create, we will definitely score goals. It is the responsibility of the players to put the ball into the net from those chances. We have also defended quite well in the Veikkausliiga and it is very difficult to score against us.”
From their seven matches, VPS has failed to score only in one of them. At the same time they have only kept one clean sheet. Only KPV and FC Inter have managed to score more than 1 goal against them.
VPS will miss from this match Aatu Kujanpää, Jesper Engström, Juho Lähde and Kostas Stavrothanasopoulos who are injured. Jerry Voutilainen is suspended, but they will get back Steven Morrissey who returns from suspension.
RoPS team news
RoPS started last season by keeping clean sheets and winning games but this season has gone all wrong and it started already in the pre-season when some of their new foreign signings were denied working visas and several of their key players got injured. Goalkeeper Reguero, winger Stavitski and striker Kokko were supposed to be their main players this season but all missed several games from the start and only Reguero and Kokko have just returned. Stavitski might not play for RoPS this season.
Because of the injuries, they have tried to change the formation and play with three at the back but so far it has not worked. RoPS has conceded 11 goals in their opening 8 games and only KPV and KuPS have conceded more. The big problem though has been in the offense where they have only managed to score 5 goals with only bottom club KPV scoring less.
RoPS has missed also Llamas and Kada who have been injured. Both are doubts for this match.
Initial pick is VPS to win. They have the better offense but if RoPS gets back Llamas and Kada, then also both teams to score. Bethard with 2.10 odds .
KPV vs HIFK 18:30 Keskuskenttä, Kokkola
Bethard odds: 2.55 – 2.95 – 3.00
This is the battle of two newly promoted teams. In pre-season prediction, KPV was supposed to be the better team and have better chances of survival, but so far they have only scored 3 goals and earned 2 points. HIFK is just above them but their game looks better and they already have six points from their opening 7 games.
Last season both played in the Finnish 1st Division, Ykkönen and HIFK won both of their home games against KPV. In Kokkola, the points were shared 2-2.
KPV team news
KPV has not played well this season with especially their offense lacking creativity. Things looked like going better last week when they led the Finnish Cup semi-final match at home against Ilves 2-0, but then gave it all away on added time as Ilves scored two goals after 90 minutes to win 2-3. This cannot do well to their confidence. They were just moments away of getting themselves to the Cup final and giving their season a real boost.
KPV can blame a bit on their poor results that they had to play their four opening home games away in Seinäjoki and also that those opponents were from the better side of the table. Still though, if they do not start winning soon, the owner might look to change the head coach.
HIFK team news
There is a lot of turmoil in HIFK right now. Last week they were sold to a chinese business man who is known for doing drastic changes in the playing staff. His business model is to bring in players and then sell them with a profit after they do good. This could bring in quality players but still difficult to tell what will happen with the club. Most of the fans are not happy. They already brought in one Brazilian who has played in the Brazil U-17 side so he could be a really good player for this league.
This change might be bad timing as HIFK were just getting their game together. They have played organized football and pressing the ball aggressively and it was starting to bear fruit as they had beaten FC Honka and drawn with HJK.
HIFK will get back defender Tero Mäntylä who returns from suspension. This will be the first match on natural grass for HIFK so be cautious.
KPV should start strong like against Ilves and they might hold it until the end. Home win. (Bethard)
Ilves vs IFK Mariehamn 18:30 Tammelan Stadion, Tampere
Bethard odds: 1.90 – 3.30 – 4.25
This is the pre-match to the Finnish Cup final as both teams won their semi-finals last week and will meet in Mariehamn for the final. Ilves has been the top team this season and are currently 2nd one point behind leaders FC Inter with two games in hand. After a good start, IFK Mariehamn has lost two of their last three games and are on 7th position but still only five points behind Ilves.
Last season IFK Mariehamn won the first two games against Ilves home and away but Ilves won the last one in September 3-6 in Mariehamn. Overall since Ilves got back to the Veikkausliiga in 2015, IFK Mariehamn has won four of the five matches against Ilves in Tampere.
Ilves team news
Ilves showed their mental strength in coming back against KPV in the Finnish Cup semi-final, but it must be a worry that a team that has scored only 3 goals in the league managed to score twice against the best defensive team in the league. Ilves has only conceded once this season in the league and are the only undefeated team. This is mainly because of their solid defensive structure and team play that is coached in detail.
Offensively they are not that good yet as they are missing a proper striker. Several of their goals have come from set pieces and/or long range shots. Ilves has had some injury problems recently but it seems that most players are back close to full fitness. Only Santeri Haarala and Yusif Moussa might be missing from this game.
This is already the 4th match for Ilves within 13 days with the last two matches being long away journeys to Rovaniemi and Kokkola.
IFK Mariehamn team news
IFK Mariehamn has been playing a lot of exciting games as they are on top of the over list with an average of 3.57 goals scored in their games in average. None of their games so far have seen less than 2 goals. When compared to Ilves who has had either 0 or maximum 1 goal in five of their seven league matches this season. This match is truly defense vs offense as IFK Mariehamn has scored 15 goals themselves which is the second highest in the league behind FC Inter who was the team they lost in the last round.
IFK Mariehamn though played well on Thursday in their Cup semi-final where they beat VPS 1-3. For Mariehamn this will be already the 4th match in 12 days for them.
IFK Mariehamn will miss central defender Rick Ketting who is suspended. Robin Buwalda and Daniel Sjölund are doubts.
This should be a tight game with not so many goals but you need to look at the starting line-ups as there could be some rotation. Under 1.5 goals is the main pick with 2.75 odds.
FC Lahti vs HJK 18:30 Lahden Stadion, Lahti
Bethard odds: 4.85 – 3.25 – 1.83
There is no love lost between these two teams which is mainly based on the two cities and not actually the two teams. Lahti and Helsinki rivalry in sports has been going on for a long time and some fans might get a bit too excited. Here are two teams who have both only lost once, but are still found in the mid-table. FC Lahti is 8th with 8 points and they are 4 points behind HJK who are 6th but have played two games more.
Last season FC Lahti beat HJK in the first two games in Lahti and Helsinki, but HJK won the last match in Lahti. HJK also beat Lahti in the Finnish Cup this season 1-4 even though it was Lahti who eventually went through in the group.
FC Lahti team news
FC Lahti is playing a bit like VPS when it comes to form. They start games poorly and have never led at half-time yet this season (0-3-4) nor have they scored a first half goal yet. In the second half they make a come back and because of this, they have only lost once all season. If they could keep their game together for the whole 90 minutes, they could have won a bit more. Their defense keeps improving and it is now already quite solid.
This will be the first match of the season that Lahti gets to play at their normal Lahti Stadium which has natural grass. Their first home games were played at Kisapuisto under artificial grass.
FC Lahti should have all players available now that mexican Jeronimo Amione has recovered from a long foot injury.
HJK team news
This is a must win game for HJK and their head coach Mika Lehkosuo. The season has started quite poorly. One of their targets was to win the Finnish Cup and they could not even make it out from the group. They also want to win the title this season but have only won 2 of their opening 9 games and lie on 6th position. They have played 7 games without a win which is unheard of for such a big club like HJK who have by far the biggest player budget in Finland.
Right now they also have some suspension problems as both Faith Obilor and Elderson will miss this match. These suspensions have taken the boost out of HJK´s game improvement. They already looked offensively a lot better in the matches against Ilves, VPS and SJK but still could not find a way to win. They will get back Sebastian Dahlström and Kaan Kairinen who return from suspension.
HJK has been able to train the past 9 days so expect a well drilled team in this match.
If HJK gets their offense in order, they should win this match. HJK over 1.5 goals and away win with 1.83 odds at Bethard.