Will the favorite HJK falter and will the coach roulette spin wildly again? Follow these things in the Veikkausliiga starting today | Sport

Will the favorite HJK falter and will the coach roulette

Football’s Veikkausliiga starts on Saturday with a full round of six matches. ‘s first TV game of the season comes from the brand new Tammela stadium, when Ilves meets FC Lahti. The broadcast starts on TV2 at 16:30.

Here are a few selections from the season’s talking points.

HJK is the favorite again, but what after that?

HJK won the SM gold last year Toni Korkeakunnsen in the lead on goal difference, when the loss of a goal in the decisive KuPS match was enough for the championship. Significant changes have taken place in the club, both in the players, coaching and sports management. Jukka Raitalan, Miro Tenhon, Tuomas Ollilan, Matti Peltolan, Try Soir and Bojan Radulovic the gaps left have been filled, among other things With Noah Pallas, With Diogo Tomas, With Carlos Moros Garcia and Luke Plangella. There was enough talk about training in the winter, when Ferran Sibila didn’t make it to the Uefa Pro course in Sweden, and was named head coach Ossi Virta.

There are many question marks behind HJK, and the deck is wide open. They have emerged as the club’s toughest challengers in the championship fight Jani Honkavaara KuPS and Vesa Vasaran Inter, who moved into coaching. KuPS has told about the tightening of the money belt, and the team has interesting own growths. Vasara, who coached FC Honka for a long time, led the people of Turku to victory in the League Cup, and the winter games have shown that at least at this point in the spring, the pieces seem to be in order.

Joonas Rantanen leads Ilves into a new era at the Tammela stadium, and thanks to the victory in the Finnish Cup, the club from Tampere, which claimed a European place, has strengthened its ranks, among other things With Anton Popovits, Joona at Vetel, Juhani Pikkarainen and Roope at Risk. The changes have been big, and even though Ilves has a lot of potential, the break-in takes time.

VPS was a super performer last fall, but the acquisition of reinforcements has been left to the last minute and the incompleteness should be visible especially in the first rounds. In addition to Ilves and VPS, SJK, FC Haka and AC Oulu are most realistically fighting for places in the upper secondary series. FC Lahte, IFK Mariehamn and Gnistan and EIF, who have been promoted to the series, have been drawn as the bottom four.

Will the coach roulette spin like last season?

At the opening ceremony of the season, there were hardly any familiar coach faces from last year. Towed VPS to bronze and to the European Games in the fall Jussi Nuorela was the only one in the same role on the same occasion last year, and the other coach who started in the same club last season is the Spaniard who lifted EIF from No. 1 to the league Gabriel Garcia Xatart.

With the media agreement that entered into force last year, the clubs’ coffers swell annually by around half a million TV euros, and in addition, UEFA’s solidarity money has increased. Financially, the difference to the second highest league level (in the new league system, Ykkösliiga) is huge, and the clubs want to stay on top tooth and nail. The coaches’ ball kept going through last season, and KuPS, HJK, Ilves, KTP, AC Oulu, IFK Mariehamn and FC Lahti changed coaches – with varying results.

Toni Koskelan Korkeakunnas, who replaced the namesake, coached HJK to become a champion and Pasi Tuut replaced by the old familiar Honkavaara for KuPS silver. Toni Lindberg kept FC Lahti in the league, and he will be allowed to continue in his role this season as well. Joni Lehtonen led Ilves to a cup victory, and he is part of Rantanen’s new coaching team.

KTP separated Jussi Leppälahten, who inherited Rantanen’s place as Gnistan’s head coach. The people of Kotka washed Juha Malinen, but KTP’s elevator plunged violently downwards again. The spring of VPS was challenging, but after the incredible rise of the autumn, people in Vaasa were quite satisfied with the decision to trust Nuorela.

IFK Mariehamn’s Portuguese coach will bring new foreign winds to the Veikkausliiga Bruno Romao and the Northern Irishman who took over FC Haka Andy Smith. Xatart and the Brit who rose from SJK’s academy team to coach the national team Stevie Grieve already know from previous experience what kind of football is played in Finland.

Who will become the stars of the season?

Who are the Veikkausliiga’s brightest stars and most interesting profile players? The teams have once again reshuffled their lineups, sometimes with a heavy hand, and a lot of foreign players have been brought to Finland, whose level varies from key players to regular players to tourists.

There is an order for superstars again, and basically there are few of them in the series. The HJK top, which also debuted in Huhkaj and gained a cult reputation in Norway Diogo Tomas is a personable and tough defender who was acquired to fill the gap of Miro Tenho, who moved to Sweden.

The club Top Middle charmed with his speed in his debut season in the league, and the 21-year-old from Mikkeli is already being taken abroad. British striker who came on loan from Crystal Palace to HJK Luke Plange has flashed his skills in training games, and he is expected to score goals.

FC Lahti got stronger with a Dutch winger transferred from Lithuania With Colin Odutayo, and based on the winter games, Päijät-Hämee has hit a gold mine. Vaasa, on the other hand, hopes and trusts that a fairly recent defender acquisition, who played in the Guinea-Bissau A national team Pedro Justiniano ranks among the top defenders in the series.

AC Oulu Ashley Coffey showed his ability to score goals last season, and is a versatile worker in FC Inter’s midfield Bismarck Ampofo, 21, can take big development steps again. of the EIF Enoch Kofi Adu is one of the most important players in the league with his experience, although not always sparkling in the midfield.

Gnistan captain rejected by HJK Jukka Raitalain HJK wearing a ribbon Joona ToivioKuPS returnee Petteri Pennanen and Popovits, who moved to Ilves, belong to domestic and experienced profile players. One of the new old Finns who came to SJK on loan Eetu Mommö played strongly in Ilves already four years ago at the age of 18.