GB won’t be underestimated by Finns – Willberg

Kaapo Kakko is Finland's man to watch for GB and journalist Tommi Willberg is a big fan (PHOTO: YLE)

Great Britain won’t be taken lightly by the Finnish when they meet later tonight in Kosice, according to Finnish sports journalist Tommi Willberg.

It’s game five for both teams and both have very different objectives as they get ready to go head-to-head with three points up for grabs.

And Willberg, who writes for Swedish speaking newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL for short) admits GB are his favourite team and hopes they can make life tricky for the Finns.

“I think GB are a team not to be underestimated and we’ve seen anything can happen,” he said. “They’re humble, work hard and if the game is goalless going into third period, then they have a chance.  

“I have to be a realist here and say Finland are massive favourites, but I hope that GB can make life difficult for them.  GB have been my favourite team in the tournament so far and I spoke with Jonathan Phillips and he’s such a classy guy.  

WATCH: Kaapo Kakko nets for Finland in last night’s win over Denmark

“He took the time to talk to the Finnish media, American media and he spoke with me about last year’s tournament and that dramatic last game, when they tied it with 18 seconds to go then won it in overtime.  It gave me goosebumps to hear it.

“Even though they had a tough time against Denmark, they played so well against the USA on Wednesday.  The score being just a 6-3 loss was a good one I thought and Phillips said they were happy with that performance, especially scoring the goals against those NHL superstars.”

One name on everyone’s lips in the tournament is Kaapo Kakko, the teenager with six goals and an assist in four games so far, who is reckoned to be a possible first draft pick for the the NHL.

Willberg is a big fan and believes the Finns have done a lot better than anticipated, which has meant expectation levels have risen.

He added: “Kaapo Kakko has been the big hero so far with two goals against Canada, a hat-trick against Slovakia and one last night against Denmark.  

WATCH: Finland last won the World Championships in 2011 the last time the tournament was held in Slovakia.  Can they do it again?

“It was a start he didn’t expect.  He’s so good to watch and when you see him being so physical and strong, it’s hard to believe he’s only 18 years old.

“But so far, I think Finland have performed better than expected.  There haven’t been the big NHL superstars coming in.  Other than a controversial loss to USA, it’s been going well in my book.

“The Finns always high expectations for themselves in a tournament like this and they play for gold, or at least be in the top three.  

“That said, I think personally they’ll go out in the quarter finals because the other group in Bratislava is so tough, with the teams in there.

“With the good start, the expectation has risen, but it is still early in the tournament.”

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