Are we ready?
On Friday night Markku Kanerva’s Finland finalized their preparations with a second defeat this time to an under strength Estonia side.
The game itself had little of note. As against Sweden, Kanerva opted for his preferred system of wing backs, as against Sweden, Finland struggled to make a creative impact, Kamara, Lod and Schüller in the middle looked very good individually, but couldn’t seem to link up as a group. Ironically, it was Finland’s brightest player, Pyry Soiri, who’s mistake handed victory to our southern neighbours. A clumsy challenge, that would have been effective on the halfway line, was duly punished by the Danish ref, who awarded the visitors a penalty. Rauno Sappinen sent Lukas Hradecky the wrong way and for the remaining 30 minutes even the introduction of Messrs Pukki, Taylor and Uronen couldn’t stir the home side into action.
The defeat marks the end of a tumultuous week for the Huuhkajat where a public dispute with Juhani Ojala took most of the attention but couldn’t detract from the fact that on the pitch big players remained untested, the new system appeared ineffective and those given a chance to impress routinely fluffed their lines.
In retrospect neither Estonia nor Sweden offered a meaningful test or preparation for the tournament and the players knew this, particularly in Helsinki. There were also a few rays of hope. Pyry Soiri was offensively bright in both games, Onni Valakari appeared comfortable and ready to compete against stronger opposition and the cameos of Uronen, Sparv, Pohjanpalo and Pukki revealed players looking fresh and moving freely.
Mark H: In just seven days Finland will embark on the first senior tournament of their history. On the surface it would appear that we have many problems to overcome, in truth we’ve yet to really Finland’s main threat in action, we still have the capacity to surprise, even our own fans.
Rich: It’s hard to not get worried after the two defeats and with some of the turmoil around the injury to Sauli and Ojala’s annoyance. But there are enough old heads in the squad to rein it in when it matters, who’ve played in big club games and should be able to switch it on against Denmark. If Pukki is ready to start and the nerves don’t take over, the whole of Finland and most of Europe will be watching on with keen eyes.
Mark W: On the latest episode of FFS (2.6.2021) we were joined by Nordic Foty’s Cameron Deacon. He explained to us that the Sweden team was probably half-strength but, with addidtions, they would be a competitive opponent during the Euros. Denmark, on the other hand, are a ‘scary good’ team – which has given the FFS team a few extra nerves heading into the first game in Copenhagen. Work is needed during the coming week, for the Huuhkajat to figure out how to hurt Denmark down teh wings, where Cameron assures us they are ‘vulnerable’. Fingers crossed, then.
Keke: While the results on paper against Sweden and Estonia are disappointing I think we will see a different mentality from the side that faces up to Denmark on Saturday. After the hand of fate dealt a devastating blow to Sauli Väisänen in the form of a nasty back injury it was plain to see that those on the pitch against Estonia had one eye on ensuring they did not sustain any injuries. I remain 100% certain that the likes of Sparv, Arajuuri and Hradecky will be able to fire the squad up as the prepare to walk out to play the nations first ever match at a major tournament. One listen of Niila’s Sukupolvien Unelma should do the trick! Oi Suomi On…