On the 15th of November 2019, the Finnish national team beat Lichtenstein and it was a win that helped made history as it meant that the Finns finished second in their qualifying group and qualified for a major international tournament for the first time ever. The Finnish players on the field could scarcely believe their achievement, the fans in the stands were just as shocked too. In fact, there was a party seen in Finland like no other, and deservedly so since it took them 32 qualifying tournaments to get to a major football tournament.
Ask any Finland fan what happened on the 11th of October back in 1997, and do not be surprised if they turn ghostly white and a tear starts to roll down their cheek before they answer you. This was the day that the Finns took on the Hungarians in the final 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifying round. If they won, they would have had a play-off to earn a spot at their first World Cup.
With just a minute left on the clock, things were looking really good for the Finland team as they were 1-0 up. Those who had used a Finnish sports betting website, such as one of the great ones found on Suomi Veikkaus, to make a bet on Finland qualifying for the play-off match were sitting there thinking what they might spend their profit on. With just a few seconds left in the match, Hungary won a corner and just pumped the ball into the box, hoping that Lady Luck would be smiling down on them.
The corner was swung in and the Finnish defence failed to clear it multiple times, and then tragedy struck as one of the defenders attempted to clear the ball off the line and it hit the keeper in the back and went in. The game finished 1-1 and Finland’s hope of playing at a World Cup were vanquished. If someone had dropped a pin a second after the referee blew his whistle, everyone in the stadium would have heard it.
Many Finnish football fans who watched that game that day would have done all that they could to erase it from their memory. It is probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that many Finns still get a cold sweat whenever they are forced to remember this match.
Muted Celebrations Versus Denmark
Finland played their first major tournament game on the 12th of June, and it was against their Nordic cousins Denmark. They won the match 1-0 courtesy of a 1-0 goal by Joel Pohjanpalo that was scored in the 60th minute. However, the Finnish team and their fans could not really celebrate their first ever win at a major competition how they wanted to because the match was overshadowed by Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen having a heart attack on the field and requiring CPR. He was treated on the field for more than 15 minutes and had officially died. Thankfully, he is making a good recovery. The match was postponed, and the Danish players only agreed to go out and finish the game when they knew that he was stable.
Before the shocking incident, the Danish team had been a lot better than Norway, but their minds were obviously befuddled by what had happened and they were worried for their friend. In fact, the Finland goal was one that Kasper Schmeichel would back himself to save 9 times out of 10. To add to this, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg missed a penalty. The Danes lost the match, but there was not one Danish player or fan that cared about the loss – they just wanted to make sure that Eriksen was okay.
For any other big win at a major tournament, the Finnish players would have jumped up and down in front of their adoring fans but, to their credit, they kept their celebrations lowkey out of respect for the Danes and Eriksen.
The Danes also lost their next game 2-1 to Belgium, but they put in a very good performance against one of the best teams in the world. They rallied in their final group game against Russia and won 4-1 to qualify for the final 16 as runners-up. They played Wales in the Round of 16 and thumped them 4-0 to set up a quarter-final clash with the Czech Republic who shocked the Netherlands 2-0.
Finland came third in their group and had a slight chance of qualifying as one of the best third-placed sides, but their goal difference of -2 went against them and they were eliminated. However, although they went out, their fans can be proud of their team, and we are sure that they will now be supporting their fellow Scandinavians.
Finland’s Win Against the Danes was a Costly One for Veikkaus
Vekkaus is a Finnish gambling company that has the monopoly on betting in Finland since it is government owned. Due to the fact that Denmark were favourites to win the match against Finland, you would have thought that many would have bet on the Danes for some easy money. However, those who do some sports betting in Finland are a patriotic bunch, and many placed bets on their own team to win their first ever major tournament match.
As a result of this upset, Veikkaus had to pay put 1.7 million Euros. The director of the company, Juha-Matti Mäkilä, declared that the losses that they accrued from this game were some of the biggest that the company has ever experienced for just a solitary game. He said that there had been similar losses before, but these huge losses were from a number of different matches that were played on the same day, not from one solitary match.
We take our caps of to those Finns that placed their money on Finland because nobody gave the Finns a chance of getting anything from the game. The majority of bookmakers would have had the Danish team at odds of 1.60-1.80 to win the match, while the Finnish team would have had odds somewhere in the region of 6.00-8.00. Most football prediction websites would also have had Denmark to win the match comfortably, and this probably would have happened had Eriksen not collapsed on the pitch. If you are reading this as one of those Finns that backed your team to win before the game started, we really hope you treated yourself and friends to some well-earned bevvies after the match.