Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Champions League clash between HJK Helsinki and Molde, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Molde are starting their Champions League campaign in the second round of qualifying, while the Finnish side have already beaten Larne in Europe this season.
HJK begun their Champions League qualifying campaign with a 3-2 aggregate victory over the champions of Northern Ireland.
After claiming a narrow 1-0 home victory thanks to Bojan Radulovic‘s penalty, HJK played out a 2-2 draw in the away leg to set up a tie with Molde.
The task only gets harder for HJK, who have lost their last four ties in the second round of Champions League qualifying since beating FK Ventspils in the 2015-16 season.
The reigning Finnish champions have proven to be a tough team to beat in recent weeks, having lost just one of their last nine games.
They will be confident of recording a positive result on Tuesday, with their previous 14 Champions League qualifying home games producing eight wins, four draws and two defeats.
Molde, meanwhile, will head into their first European game of the season in fine form after they extended their unbeaten run to seven competitive games with a comfortable win over Sarpsborg on Saturday.
Eric Kitolano scored the second hat trick of his professional career to put Molde in complete control against Sarpsborg, before Mathias Lovik and Martin Linnes grabbed a goal apiece to round off a 5-0 victory.
Erling Moe‘s side will now turn their attention to Tuesday’s contest where they will be looking to clinch a fifth consecutive victory in all competitions.
The omens are positive for the Norwegian side, who have won all of their previous five ties in the second round of Champions League qualifying.
Molde’s only previous meeting with a Finnish team in UEFA competition took place in August 2020 when they thrashed KuPS in a one-legged Champions League qualifying tie.
HJK Helsinki Champions League form:
HJK Helsinki form (all competitions):
Molde form (all competitions):
As for the visitors, they are still without the services of long-term injury absentee Martin Ellingson, who remains sidelined with a knee problem.
Having scored five goals in the last three matches, Kitolano will be looking to continue his impressive form when he features up front on Tuesday.
HJK Helsinki possible starting lineup:
Iliev; Raitala, Tenho, Toivio; Soiri, Lingman, Kanellopoulos, Ollila; Olusanya, Keskinen, Radulovic
Molde possible starting lineup:
Karlstrom; Haugan, Bjornbak, Hagelskjaer; Knudtzon, Eriksen, Grodem, Breivik, Haugen; Kitolano, Brynhildsen
We say: HJK Helsinki 1-1 Molde
HJK will be desperate to make full use of home advantage in the first leg, but we think that they will have to be content with a draw against a Molde side who have proven to be a tough team to beat in recent times after winning six and drawing one of their last seven games.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.