HJK and Fenerbahce will cross swords on Thursday, August 26, at Bolt Arena in the second leg of the Europa League qualifications finals. The Turkish side won the reverse fixture 1-0 at home and will look to keep their score intact as they take a trip north to Finland.
HJK vs Fenerbahce
When: Thursday, August 26 – 19:00 EEST
Where: Bolt Arena in Helsinki, Finland
Weather: Showers, 14°C
Referee: Ivan Kružliak (SVK)
Fenerbahce secured a 1-0 lead in the reverse fixture, albeit it wasn’t an easy game for them. HJK played strong defence and did well to end the game with only one goal down; now, they need to focus more on the final third of the pitch and come out of the game as the winners.
Whether the Finns will be able to do it is anyone’s guess, but we do know that they tend to perform significantly better at home, where they’re undefeated across their last ten outings. That stretch includes two draws and eight wins, which Toni Koskela’s men will want to transform to nine wins and two draws tonight.
Non-Crucial Injuries for HJK
HJK edged past Lahti (1-0) on the road at the weekend, which cemented them as the Veikkausliga leaders with a 14-2-1 record. Although an important victory for the reigning Finnish champions, they surely wanted it to ended slightly differently.
HJK picked up several injuries in that match, including Kevin Kouassivi-Benissan, Anthony Olusanya, and Matti Peltola, who were all forced off the pitch with knocks. On a more positive note, neither of the three are key players and weren’t expected to start today.
Instead of going all-out in the weekend fixture, Koskela decided to rest his key men for tonight’s spectacle, where we should see Tim Sparv, Riku Riski, and Filip Valencic in the starting XI.
With their win against Lahti, HJK are now 5-3-2 across their last 10, with losses against Malmo FF in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers quarter-finals and a 0-1 loss against Fenerbahce in the reverse fixture. The three draws came in July against Malmo FF (2-2), SJK (0-0), and Neftci Baku (2-2), who kept the Finns at a draw in the Europa League qualifiers semi-finals.
Long Injury List For Fenerbahce
Fenerbahce will enter tonight’s match without Irfan Kahveci and Filip Novak, who picked up injures in the first leg against HJK. While they should recover, they won’t be ready in time to help their side on their quest for the UEFA Champions League ticket.
What’s more, the Turkish side won’t be able to count on Mert Hakan Yandas, Dimitrios Pelkas, and Serdar Dursun. With missing players, Fenerbahce boss should give the nod to the German international, Mesut Ozil, who featured in the reverse leg but was subbed out in 62′. We could also see Ferdi Kadioglu switch to flanks as a replacement for Novak.
Fenerbahce enter this match off a 2-0 victory against Antalyaspor on Sunday. It marked their fourth consecutive win. Besides the 1-0 win against HJK, the Turkish side also beat Adana Demispor (1-0) and Giresunspor in a friendly match at the start of the month.
HJK vs Fenerbahce Betting Pick
HJK have done well last time out to keep Fenerbahce at one goal and should feel confident in their chances to edge out a win tonight. Not only do HJK perform significantly better at home, but Fenerbahce will also take the trip with several missing players.
With the home advantage on their side and a full squad available, we have to favour HJK here. Trust the Finns to get the job done on their home pitch!
Prediction: HJK +0.25 Asian Handicap – 2.02 at Betfair
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