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Aapo Virtanen: Don’t Look Back In Anger

Started on 6 November 2018 by Jack
Latest Reply on 5 September 2019 by Justice
Some good signings there, I have full faith in them delivering for you in the future. Some very promising deals made. A cracking run in the cup and I'm thrilled to see you pick up your first piece of silverware. A place in the Europa League as a result too, brilliant! The first of many trophies, I think!
Some very promising looking signings that could deliver big things for you in the future and hopefully this season too! The cup run was fantastic and to pick up silverware is an incredible achievement and you and the club should now reap the rewards it brings!
Two excellent set-piece takers signed who will give you a major edge from dead-ball moves. Savolainen is a giant up front with a reasonable amount of pace too, will be a threat to be wary of!

Congratulations on lifting the cup! It is a great achievement after a long campaign (group & KO rounds). European football awaits next year, which is an incredible financial boost for the club!
Scott: Yes, was definitely a lot of influence from Virtanism in my transfer business this winter :P I honestly can't wait to get my teeth into some European football too!

Griffin: Cheers man, I'm really excited to see how the new signings perform now and further into the future, and with the European qualification complete I really think there are better signings on the way in the future!

Justice: Savolainen has been a bit of a monster in the air tbh, him and Ulmanen have got really healthy competition going on for the starting striker spot which is great. It's great to add a second trophy to the collection and I'm seriously looking forward to UEL football :P

Our first two months of competitive football in 2020 have been nothing short of incredible for a team of our supposed quality. After our opening day victory against FC Honka in April, we smashed Mariehamn 4-0 with an early double from Joni Makela and other goals from Savolainen and Huhtamaki. In April we also advanced in the Suomen Cup second round against FC Haka.

In May without a doubt our biggest and best achievement was in the Suomen Cup as we went all the way with a huge victory against Veikkausliiga holders Kuopion all the way to the final which we won in extra-time against Suomen Cup holders Seinajoen. This opens up the opportunity of Europa League football next season which I am already looking forward to.

Our incredible form throughout the opening months of the Veikkausliiga campaign has put us firmly into 3rd place with one-third of the season out of the way. We sit three points ahead of fourth and four points behind league leaders Helsinki.

At the top of the table are Helsinki - who finished a lowly fourth place last season - and they sit two points ahead of second-placed Inter Turku (predicted 5th place this season). However, with Helsinki's habit of drawing games, I'm hoping to gain a few points from them this season and possibly go top ourselves!

At the bottom of the league, there is no shortage of surprises. Lahti sit bottom of the table on seven points alongside Europa League competitors Seinajoen who are on the same amount of points except with a game in hand. Two other surprises are Veikkausliiga holders Kuopion laying in a lowly 8th position on 12 points - 12 points away from the top of the league. One of the league favourites IFK Mariehamn are also having a terrible season as they sit in 9th place on 11 points. These positions go to show just how flexible the Veikkausliiga can be, with no real dominant force in the country.

In June we begin the month at Raatin Stadion as we start the second phase of fixtures against FC Honka, closely followed by 9th placed Mariehamn. We will face current second place holders Inter Turku at the end of that month, after the two week break in the middle of the month.

In July we will get our chance to defeat league leaders Helsinki in what I consider to be one of the key fixtures out of the two months. With our great form and the Suomen Cup victory I hope to utilise the camaraderie within the squad to further cement our position in the league and possibly go ahead of Inter Turku.

In Aapo Virtanen's 100th competitive match in charge of AC Oulu, a 3-1 victory away at FF Jaro has sent Oulu top of the Veikkausliiga.

In the pre-match conference, both managers of either side were asked about Virtanen's impact at Oulu. Interim Jaro manager Ari Asukka was asked about the reputation that Virtanen has built himself for his possession-based football over the 100 games. Asukka said respectfully: "I have a lot of credit for the achievements that Aapo Virtanen has accomplished whilst in charge of Oulu, and while I will try my best to counter his style, he makes his teams extremely difficult to beat with the amount of time on the ball his teams have." the Ykkonen-winning manager said to the Finnish Football Chronicle.

In what has become a familiar occurrence, Oulu assistant manager Markus Heikkinen was sent to speak to the press before the game at Raatin Stadion. The former Oulu centre-back stated that Virtanen is a 'delightful' manager to work under as a player and as a backroom member of staff.

With the pre-match niceties over, the tone of the match was set in the first 25 minutes of the game as both teams had one player given yellow cards which led to a very feisty match involving a total of 32 fouls accumulatively.

With AC Oulu players holding the knowledge that an away victory at Pietarsaaren Keskuskentta could potentially send last seasons relegation strugglers to the top of the Veikkausliiga depending on the result of Helsinki's result against IFK Mariehamn, it was Spanish midfielder Javi Bueno who sent Oulu into the lead in the 16th minute. The 24-year-old fired home a shot from 12 yards out following a tackle by Anthony Dafaa on Simon Westly ricocheted back to the feet of Bueno.

The two teams went into the break with AC Oulu one goal ahead of their opponents, however it only took six minutes after the beginning of the second half for Virtanen's boys to double their lead. Antti Ulmanen - currently in a battle for the starting spot with new arrival Teemu Savolainen - bagged Oulu's second goal with a composed finish from the edge of the area after being laid off by winger Simon Westly.

FF Jaro's Evans Mensah pulled one back for the preseason relegation favourites in the 64th minute after a slip up by centre-back Arttu Hoskonen led to an easy finish past Eemeli Hurtig. However, with the match drawing to a close, it was half-time substitution Darren Bradbury who put the final nail in the Jaro coffin with a 94th minute free-kick into the bottom-left hand corner.

With the Veikkausliiga season just past the halfway stage, the 3-1 victory sent Aapo Virtanen's team to the summit of the division after it was discovered that Helsinki had slipped up and suffered a home defeat at the hands of Mariehamn's Robin Sid. With Europa League football already secured for the 2021 campaign, AC Oulu - the preseason relegation favourites - could provide one of the biggest footballing shocks in history this season with a cup and league title double.

Up next is a season-defining game for Aapo Virtanen and his men as Oulu take on Helsinki at Raatin Stadion in their next fixture on Sunday 5th July.

Wow. After an incredible first two months in April and May, we only went on and did even better in June and July as we actually took the lead in the league title battle - a race that was completely unthinkable at the beginning of the season given the apparent ability of our team.

In June we started off with a superb 5-0 victory over FC Honka Espoo, with Teemu Savolainen getting on the scoresheet twice. With another 5-0 victory that month against Vaasan, we did not lose a single match throughout June.

In July, we finally managed to top the league with an exceptional performance against FF Jaro, with Helsinki losing their fixture to Mariehamn that day to help us to the top. In the corresponding fixture, we faced up against Helsinki with an opportunity to strengthen our lead at the top and through a Teemu Savolainen hat-trick, we did exactly that. Although the 4-1 defeat to Honka near the end of the month was a bitter loss, we still remain stronger than ever before.

And there we have it! Topping the league with only ten games remaining in the season. Alongside us at the top are Helsinki in 2nd and Inter Turku in 3rd place. Helsinki hold a stronger position than Inter Turku despite being level on points at the end of July as Helsinki have a game in hand on both ourselves and Inter Turku. This means they can push further away from Inter Turku in their game in hand and in the meantime, come closer to us from four points to one point if they win it.

At the bottom end of the table, it is seeming like it is FC Lahti who seem set for the drop down into the Ykkonen. One of the preseason title favourites, Seinajoen are also in rough waters regarding a relegation play-off. They have a game in hand which could drag them to safety, but a shock drop down to the Ykkonen could be in order to last seasons Suomen Cup winners and the 2nd-favourite for the title before this season began.

In terms of other preseason title contenders, it is not looking good for the current Veikkausliiga holders Kuopion, who after last seasons thumping of the league currently sit in mid-table with only nine games remaining. IFK Mariehamn are even worse-off than last season. In 2019 they finished in 3rd place in Veikkausliiga and were 7/1 preseason favourites for the title, but currently find themselves languishing in 8th place with points closer to the relegation zone (7 points away) than to their final position last year (14 points).

As we close off the 2020 season in the coming months, lets look at our opponents. In August we face some relatively easy looking games, with FC Ilves perhaps looking like our toughest fixture in that month when we face them in mid-August at Raatin Stadion. Kuopion away could also prove to be a difficult position despite their poor season.

September will be an extremely tough month despite the relative lack of matches. We will face both the current third place holders Inter Turku away from home before going on to play Helsinki, who are the main title contenders now 4th place is slowly getting brushed away. We will face 2nd place Helsinki at Toolon Stadion and that is our key fixture in these three months purely as it could be the difference between winning the league or losing out late on.

In October we play only two games against Rovaniemen (currently 5th) and relegation-threatened Seinajoen on the final day at Raatin Stadion.
An unbelievable season so far, this will be one of those fairytale seasons that Finnish football fans talk about for a long time to come if you can go on to win the title and cap off what has been an incredible campaign so far
Now to Finnish the season strongly!
An absolute incredible run of results has left you in a position you could only dream of, I would say! Let's hope you can continue to get the results you need in order to pull off a huge shock and win the title.
Griffin: It really has been a magnificent season this time around and even if we don't finish with a title its a great foundation for next season!

Justice: Have you ever thought about a career in comedy?

Scott: We are in such a strong position and I honestly couldn't have pictured it with the squad I had at my disposal, with teams like Helsinki having much better individual players.

Hello and welcome to the coverage of the biggest game in AC Oulu's history as they take on Seinajoen at Raatin Stadion in the final game of the Veikkausliiga. This is a huge game for Aapo Virtanen's men who have been the miracle story of the 2020 campaign as they top the Veikkausliiga table by two points ahead of 2nd place International Turku and AC Oulu could win their first ever top-flight title with a victory against Seinajoen today.

As you can see by the graphic above, both teams have qualified for the Europa League in 2021 and also they are the only teams that can possibly win the Veikkausliiga title today, with preseason title favourites Helsinki sitting in third place on 54 points, nine points off the pace.

Today, the title challengers International Turku will face Helsinki at their home stadium Kupittaan Jalkapallostadion and are favourites to defeat Alexei Eremenko's side today.

It's coming up to 5:30pm now here at Raatin Stadion and the lineups from both sides have been announced ahead of the 6:30pm kick-off.

AC Oulu XI: 1. Hurtig (GK), 22. Belov, 5. L Nurmos, 15. Dolivo, 13. Rannankari, 17. Huhtamaki, 35. Bradbury, 7. Makela, 8. Cabezas, 11. Romein, 10. Savolainen
AC Oulu Subs: 30. Sloth (GK), 2. T Nurmos, 12. Jyry, 9. Ulmanen, 19. Hautala, 20. Kabashi, 21. Eriksson

Seinajoen XI: 30. Marttinen (GK), 18. Hurme, 31. Méléké, 5. Hatakka, 2. Mero, 58. Hetemaj, 19. Malolo, 7. Carlos, 40. Kaasalainen, 10. Ions, 32. Makridis
Seinajoen Subs: 1. Ost (GK), 17. Tikkanen, 25. Tendeng, 34. Yateke, 13. Augusto, 24. Kadio, 15. Klinga

A very strong lineup from Aapo Virtanen, and a side with an average age of just 21 years old which clearly shows his disbelief in the footballing phrase 'you don't win anything with kids'! After the break we're coming back to the field of play to see if Virtanen's eleven can win Finland's most prized domestic competition with kids, it's AC Oulu versus Seinajoen... AND IT'S LIVE.

1': Seinajoen will kick off the final game of the season at Raatin Stadion as Makridis passes it back to Luiz Carlos.

3': Rannankari has a throw-in for Oulu on the near side here, Darren Bradbury has tried to nod it back to the thrower however Kaasalainen intercepts, but he's gifted the ball back to Lassi Nurmos. Billy Ions wins the ball back off Konstantin Belov on the far side now, maybe a counter-attack. Luiz Carlos plays a ball over the top which Makridis chases down into the Oulu penalty area. Lassi Nurmos comes across the cover the run, Makridis has got there first though... Penalty!!! Lassi Nurmos has taken Makridis' legs from beneath him and the referee has awarded Seinajoen an early advantage in the fourth minute!

Billy Ions steps up to take the penalty... The Englishman runs up to the spot, Eemeli Hurtig stares his opponent in the face... GOAL! Billy Ions has sent Hurtig the wrong way and casually sends Seinajoen into the lead with a low finish into the bottom left corner! Will Oulu's achievements come crashing down today at their home stadium?!

10': Rannankari with a throw-in on the halfway line, Cabezas has come across to the left to pick up the ball, now it's with Huhtamaki. Cabezas receives the ball back... And that's a fantastic first-time pass by the young Colombian to find Rannankari free down the left flank. The ball is cleared by Méléké all the way back to the Oulu defence who have stepped up to the halfway line, really putting the pressure on Seinajoen here.

Seinajoen advance to put pressure on Lassi Nurmos who gives the ball short to Darren Bradbury. Bradbury has the time to turn on his one leg, he's spread the ball out from his control. Bradbury launches one over the top towards Teemu Savolainen, and the youngster has got the beating of Méléké here... Savolainen is one-on-one!!! GOAAAAL!!! Teemu Savolainen has stuck an equaliser past Marttinen and AC Oulu are back on track! It's one a piece between the two sides in the first ten minutes!

24': Joni Makela races down the right flank for Oulu with Savolainen assuming his place in the penalty box, he's got the beating of Mero so there's lots of time here to get a ball into the box. Makela finds Savolainen in the area who has it under control... He's chipped a ball through to Dylan Romein here who is arriving late! Saved by Marttinen!!! How on Earth has that been stopped by Seinajoen's keeper?!

37': It's bad news for Oulu over at Kupittaan Jalkapallostadion as International Turku have taken the lead against Helsinki with a Mika Ojala penalty.

45+2': The referee blows the whistle for half time.

46': The game restarts for the second half and both teams are making a substitution. Oulu bring on Eriksson for Makela, Seinajoen bring on Tendeng for Kaasalainen.

52': Bradbury lines up a free-kick from 20 yards out here. It looks like he's gonna go for goal and bag a goal... Just wide of the left-hand post!

56': Leon Augusto replaces Hetemaj for Seinajoen.

67': Huhtamaki comes off for Oulu, Tommi Jyry replaces the young midfielder.

72': Jorge Cabezas is replaced by Niilo Hautala for Oulu.

74': Darren Bradbury heads over to the left side to take the outswinging corner with his left boot. It's a hanging cross, seemingly caught in the winter winds as has been the case with a lot of play today. It's headed towards the back post towards the big unit that is Teemu Savolainen... Oh, but he's been dragged down in the box! The referee points to the spot and it's a penalty! A huge chance for AC Oulu to put one hand on the Veikkausliiga title here!

And here comes the Belorussian right-back Konstantin Belov to take the spot-kick. It's the second of two penalties here. Belov marches up to the ball at a much slower pace than Ions' earlier... Belooooov! GOAAAAL!!! ADVANTAGE OULU! It's 2-1 to Aapo Virtanen's men and that puts them in an indisputable position to win the league today on their home turf!

75': Matti Klinga replaces Hurme for Seinajoen in their final substitution.

77': Matti Klinga takes charge of the ball on the right flank now, Oulu are short-staffed at the back from the ongoing counter-attack as it is five against three in Seinajoen's favour, Makridis holds the ball up on the corner edge of the box here, he's put it across to Tendeng who will strike first-time!!! GOAL!! It's an equaliser for Seinajoen and a potential threat to Oulu's title hopes! 2-2 with just 13 minutes to go at Raatin Stadion!

84': Fantastic news for Oulu over at the International Turku game as Riku Riski have drawn Helsinki level in the game over there - it's 1-1 over at Kupittaan Jalkapallostadion and as it stands, Oulu are winning the Veikkausliiga title!

89': Hatekka throws it to Ions as Oulu are minutes away from Champions League qualification and the Veikkausliiga title. Ions takes the ball forward and plays it to Makridis... Makridis has a pop on goal! Just wide!

90+3': Tendeng has a dangerous looking free-kick wide on the left hand side for Seinajoen, maybe a late surprise for his side from this set-piece. It's whipped in... Headed by Makridis, and hits the crossbar! Hurtig retains the ball in his hands and throws it to Darren Bradbury. The youngster has played it over the top, and Jyry has beaten the defender to the ball here, he's played it into Eriksson who touches it round his marker, he's got a shot off and that is a marvellous save by Marttinen!! Here's Savolainen on the rebound!!! Hatakka has beaten him there and its cleared for a throw-in, so close!

90+6': Bradbury with the corner for Oulu, you can feel the anticipation in the stands from way up here in the gantry. Savolainen's met the cross with his head, it's across goal to Romein! The assistant referee's flag is up for offside on Dylan Romein. Free-kick to Seinajoen in their own six-yard box. Marttinen boots the ball upfield from his deep position... AND THAT'S IT! AAPO VIRTANEN'S OULU ARE VEIKKAUSLIIGA CHAMPIONS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THEIR HISTORY.

Virtanen will be managing in the Champions League in 2021 and Oulu have inserted their name into Finnish footballing folklore as they complete the domestic double this season. A fantastic season for Oulu and maybe a catalyst for even more success here at Raatin Stadion!

Just incredible!
Justice: That's all I could hear from the stands :P

Griffin: Feels like a huge achievement :D

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