After winning the reverse fixture at home last month, Group C2 table toppers Finland now head to winless Estonia for their latest UEFA Nations League fixture.
A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn, Estonia
Key Stat: Finland have lost just one of their last 12 matches, keeping clean sheets in five of the last six.
Expert Verdict: Finland have made an excellent start to the UEFA Nations League, continuing their recent resurgent which has been built on a solid defence. Teemu Pukki's goal was enough in the reverse fixture and the in-form striker will be the dangerman again against out-of-form Estonia. Looking at the form book, there will be only one winner - and that is the away team.
Veteran defensive partnership Enar Jaager and Ragnar Klavan are both missing from the reverse fixture between these two. Mattias Kait missed that game injured and remains sidelined, while goalkeeper Matvei Igonen is the only other player not included from the squad that travelled to Finland. Jaager and Igonen were only on the bench last time, but Klavan’s place could be taken by Flora’s Madis Vihmann.
Ats Purje – The Finnish-based striker was the last Estonian to score, having netted a consolation in the June defeat to Morocco.
Henri Anier – The top-scoring Estonian in the Finnish league this season, having scored five times for FC Lahti.
Konstantin Vassiljev – The most experienced player left in the squad, with 23 goals from his 106 caps in midfield.
Estonia’s Baltic Cup win against Lithuania in May, courtesy of goals from Henrik Ojamaa and Mattias Kait, was their last victory. They lost 1-0 to Latvia in their following Baltic Cup match and have lost all three games played since too. First they were beaten 3-1 by Morocco, with Ats Purje’s goal proving the only consolation before back-to-back 1-0 defeats to start the UEFA Nations League, at home to Greece and away to Finland.
Defenders:Taijo Teniste, Karol Mets, Joonas Tamm, Madis Vihman, Ken Kallaste
Midfielders:Henrik Ojamaa, Konstantin Vassiljev, Artjom Dmitrijev, Sander Puri
Finland have made just two changes from the squad which beat Estonia last time out, with Henri Toivomaki and Joni Kauko missing out. Toivomaki was an unused sub against Estonia, while Kauko came on in stoppage time. Glen Kamara and Petteri Forssell have been called up, while Jere Uronen – who missed the game through injury but had started against Hungary – is fit again.
Teemu Pukki – Scored the winning goal in each of Finland’s UEFA Nations League matches in September.
Robin Lod – Sporting Gijon winger scored twice against Estonia in the 3-0 friendly win in Helsinki back in November last year.
Tim Sparv – The experienced midfielder is the most-capped player in the current squad, and will look to control the battle in the middle.
Finland have won four of their last five matches, with the 2-0 defeat to Romania in June also the only time they have conceded in that run. Teemu Pukki scored twice in a 5-0 friendly defeat of Malta prior to that, and since then scored in both of Finland’s 1-0 wins at the start of the UEFA Nations League – netting against Hungary and Estonia. Their other match in this current sequence was a 2-0 win against Belarus in June, in which Jere Uronen and Moshtagh Yaghoubi scored.
Defenders:Albin Granlund, Joona Toivio, Paulus Arajuuri, Jere Uronen
Midfielders:Robin Lod, Tim Sparv, Rasmus Schuller, Pyri Soiri
Forwards:Teemu Pukku, Jasse Tuominen
Estonia and Finland have met 34 times before, with Finland winning 17 to Estonia’s seven and the other ten ending in draws. Finland’s win in the reverse fixture in September was their fourth in five games against the Estonians, having also won 3-0 in a friendly in November last year and won in the Baltic Cup in 2012 and 2014. Teemu Pukki scored the only goal of the game last month, while Pyry Soiri and a Robin Lod double earned victory in the friendly 11 months ago.
Finland have been in resurgent form of late, turning things around at the end of their unsuccessful World Cup qualification campaign and building on those improved results since.
A win against Iceland and draws with Croatia and Turkey highlighted their improvement, and they have maintained that in the UEFA Nations League with their victories against Hungary and Estonia.
Teemu Pukki was the match winner on both occasions, and he will be looking to get at the Estonian defence again – a defence missing veteran Ragnar Klavan.
Finland have been impressive in defence, meanwhile, keeping five clean sheets in their last six matches, while they have also beaten Estonia to nil twice in the last 12 months.
They have won four of their last five against Estonia in total, and that bodes well for their trip to Tallinn.
For Estonia’s part, they have only lost narrowly in both matches so far in the UEFA Nations League – the Finland defeat preceded by a 1-0 loss to Greece.
They lack goals, however, and that will be a concern against a defence as in-form as Finland’s. Finland know a win will set them up well for their double header against Greece, and this is an opportunity they can’t afford to pass up if they are to cause a really big shock overall in this group.
While they are favourites, you can still back Finland at a best price of 5/4 to beat Estonia with Bet365 and that improves to 2/1 with Bet365 and Ladbrokes if you back them to win to nil.
Their two wins at the start of the UEFA Nations League were without conceding while each of their last two games against Estonia have ended with Finland winning to nil.
Estonia lack goals, and a Finland clean sheet is a best price of 23/20 with Ladbrokes. With two 1-0 wins to their name so far, however, Finland have also not blown teams away. Under 1.5 goal will return 7/5 with 888sport.
Teemu Pukki, with two goals in two games, is clearly the danger man up front and he is 47/20 with 888sport to score at any time for a third game in a row.
Finland have been on a resurgent run of form in the last year and more, and a win in Estonia will help to extend that – a win they should achieve with a stubborn defence and in-form Teemu Pukki up front.