The surprise Veikkausliiga leaders from Jyväskylä take on the reigning champions at the Sonera Stadium at 6:30pm tonight. JJK remain unbeaten with sixteen points after six matches while HJK sit third with twelve points. Therefore, even with a limited grasp of arithmetic, the hosts are in for a match they need to win.
JJK’s start to the season has been a big surprise even if it was widely known that they have the potential to succeed. Coach Kari Martonen finally has the squad he needs not only to fulfil his active strategy but also to bring stability into their performances. Especially Mikko Hyyrynen, Mikko Manninen and Jani Virtanen (who scored a potential goal of the season against KuPS) have impressed in the attack. HJK, however, also need to concentrate on stopping the visitor’s strong centre midfield (Eero Korte and Jukka-Pekka Tuomanen) from creating a platform for the attacking trio to inflict their damage.
HJK have won all three of their home games, but they have already lost twice away. Especially in the last two league games (1-0 win against Jaro at home and 2-0 defeat at MIFK) they showed signs of frustration and predictability in their attacking, not least because of their inability to turn chances into goals. Eight goals in six matches is a dreadful total by a team with so much attacking potential and, therefore, the star striker duo Berat Sadik and Teemu Pukki must start finding their sharpness in and around the box. Also, another cause for concern for the hosts is that their centre midfield (Alex Ring and Dawda Bah) has not been wholly comfortable against quick counter-attacks. So taking into account the attacking potential and direct style of the visitors, the inclusion of Aki Riihilahti in the centre of the park is possible, which would mean that Bah would take his preferred place on the left side of midfield.