On Friday evening the Finnish national team return to Helsinki for the first time in two years, to face lowly Liechtenstein and hopefully make history. Kick off is 19:00.
The Squad: Joel Pohjanpalo pulled up in training on Tuesday and won’t be involved, he was replaced by Rasmus Karjalainen of Fortuna Sittard. Markku Kanerva completed his squad with Albin Granlund and Daniel O’Shaughnessy. The additional defensive options could be due to the surprise inclusion of Paulus Arajuuri, who has not played since limping off injured against Bosnia-Herzegovina back in October. Back in June Finland took home a 2-0 away win from Vaduz, and even while enjoying 70-80% possession stuck with a 4-4-2, though the Huuhkajat did press pretty high. Expect nothing less tonight advanced wingers, a lot of pressure on the ball, with a solid back line, just in case.
Opponents: If more encouragement were needed Liechtenstein arrive in the Finnish capital under strength. Daniel Kaufman (centre back, 57 caps), Sandro Weijers (centre mid, 53 caps) and Philippe Erne (centre forward, 35 caps) are three of six regular players that are out injured. Aside from two 5-0 thumpings from Italy and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Blue-Reds picked up noteworthy draws away in Greece and home to Armenia. In spite of this Helgi Kovidsson, yet to win as Liechtenstein manager, is likely to stick with a five man midfield, park two buses on the edge of their box and pump long balls forward in the hope of a goal on the counter. The visitors do have the capacity to pull this off, as they did back in June 2017 in Turku, but if Finland can keep up the tempo, it’s unlikely the visitors will cause too much of a problem.
Previous: Last time out Teemu Pukki and Ben Källman struck to hand Finland a tidy away win, overall aside from the Turku 2017 draw, notable for Mehmed Hetemaj’s only international goal, Finland are yet to loose.
P:4, W:2, D:2, L:0, GF:6, GA:3
Referee: Benoit Bastion (France) – 36 year old Ligue Un based red, with international and champs league level experience. 14 red cards in his last 50 games, and reff’ed Finland’s 2-2 draw with Turkey back in 2017.
Broadcast: Live on ViaFree, that will be screening Huuhkaja content all day. If you don’t have a ticket there will also be a big screen set up in Kansalaistori.