Europa League qualifiers 29 June: VPS vs Olimpija Ljubljana, Connah´s Quay vs HJK and KR Reykjavik vs SJK

29 June 2017 | 9:39 am

Europa League qualifiers 29 June: VPS vs Olimpija Ljubljana, Connah´s Quay vs HJK and KR Reykjavik vs SJK

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Europa League qualifiers 29 June: VPS vs Olimpija Ljubljana, Connah´s Quay vs HJK and KR Reykjavik vs SJK

VPS vs Olimpija Ljubljana 19:00 Elisa Stadion, Vaasa
Odds 2.63 – 3.15 – 2.60 – Bet NOW at RedKings

VPS has been in good domestic form in the Veikkausliiga. They have a strong defense and they play with a ball possession playing style where they build their attacks from the back slowly. Not many teams in Finland play like this and it will be interesting to see how VPS will do in Europe with their style of play. Not many teams in Finland play with 3 defenders in a 3-5-2 formation.

This European Cup match will be played for the first time in 18 years in Vaasa. Previously Vaasa did not have a suitable stadium so they had to play their European games away from home. Now they can play in the Elisa Stadium which has a good condition artificial grass pitch which will give VPS an advantage.

Olimpija has typical Balkan team squad with big, strong players and who like to play physical football. Their season ended on 31 May so they have not had a big pre-season yet which might give VPS a chance despite Olimpija being the clear favourite to go through. Olimpija will want to keep a clean sheet but in their last 11 away games in the league, they managed to keep only 1 clean sheet. In the other games they conceded at least once with a 3-3-5 record.

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Prediction:

This should be a tight low scoring match but the home field advantage and the fact that VPS is in the middle of their season gives them a chance. VPS draw no bet.

Connah´s Quay vs HJK 21:00 Bangor University Stadium, Bangor
Odds 9.00 – 5.00 – 1.28 – Bet NOW at RedKings

HJK is the clear leader in the Veikkausliiga this season having lost only once. Their current form is 5 wins in their last 5 games with a 18-1 goal difference. Their defense has been really solid this season despite injury to their number one goalkeeper Dähne and being able to rotate their defenders. They have conceded only 6 goals in 15 games.

In offense HJK has also been good despite selling their top scorer Alfredo Morelos to Glasgow Rangers. They have good wingers and a good midfield who give good support when attacking. Their full backs can also come up and their attacking play has many options which is a huge improvement for previous years. For this match though, HJK will be without Juha Pirinen and Atomu Tanaka. Atom was a hugely influential player for HJK but this season he was moved to the wing where he has been playing really well, but as HJK has many good wingers, he can be replaced. Last season HJK could not replace him when he played in the number 10 role behind the striker.

Connah´s Quay finished 2nd in the Welsh Premier League last season. They based their play with a solid defense as they conceded only 24 goals all season which was the lowest of all teams. They are in the middle of their pre-season which gives HJK an advantage but they cannot take this game too lightly as last season Connah´s Quay Town knocked out Norwegian club Stabaek 1-0 on aggregate in the first qualifying round before getting relegated against FK Vojvodina.

Prediction:

The odds for HJK are a bit too low here. Connah´s Quay has a good defense and they can keep the numbers respectable especially as HJK will be without Tanaka and of course without Morelos who was sold. There is a big value on the under 2.5 goals with 2.16 odds. Both teams with good defense and a 1 leg match usually means not many goals.

KR Reykjavik vs SJK 22:15 KR-Völlur, Reykjavik
Odds 2.02 – 3.20 – 3.60 – Bet NOW at RedKings

SJK has not had the best season in the Veikkausliiga. They did make it into the Finnish Cup final but in the league they are currently 8th having won only 5 of their 16 games. The team has also changed their head coach already twice this season and currently Spanish Manual Roca is in charge. The team has potential and they are expected to climb in the standings. Last week they did beat PS Kemi at home 1-0 which was only their 3rd home win in 9 games. On the road they have a 2-1-4 record. For this match, SJK will be without their long term injured players Matej Hradecky, Chema Anton and Aristote Mboma. Also Richie Dorman got injured in the Ilves game last week and he might be out for a month. All other players are available.

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KR Reykjavik is one of the most successful teams in Iceland. They have on their national title 25 times but in the past couple of years, other teams have come above them. You could say, they are the HJK of Iceland. Currently the team is 7th after winning 3 of their 9 games so far. They are a typical Icelandic team who likes to play in a British way. Physical, direct football where the whole team attacks and defends as a team. They have a lot of experience in their squad with many players who have played in Norway and Sweden.

A couple of seasons ago, SJK played against an Icelandic side FH and they got knocked out so they know what to expect.

Prediction:

With the form SJK has been on recently, the value is on the home side. It will be a tight game and SJK will have a chance at home but in Iceland, KR should win. Home win.

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