Full house in prospect for World Cup qualifying clash with France on Friday
Finland has slumped to 96th in FIFA rankings
It looks as if the Olympic Stadium will be sold out for Friday night's World Cup qualifier against France.
By Wednesday morning, 33,000 tickets had been sold.
The venue's current capacity is roughly 36,000, and with the weather forecast for Friday not looking too bad for tomorrow evening, it is possible that there will be more walk-in attendees.
Finland's Eagle Owls under Mixu Paatelainen will need all the help they can get if they are to secure a result against France in this opening match of the 2014 World Cup campaign: the latest FIFA rankings show the national team having sunk to an all-time low of 96th, down 24 places since the last assessment in August.
This is in part owing to the fact that FIFA did not recognise the wins against Turkey and Estonia in May and June, and only considered a 3-2 victory over Trinidad and Tobago, a 3-1 defeat to Austria, and the recent 3-3 draw away to Northern Ireland.
Finland has been as high as 33rd in the past, in March 2007, and the previous low point saw them at 88th in November 2011.
France, on the other hand, are beginning to rise from the depths they reached in a desperately forgettable 2010 World Cup, and at least they managed to progress out of their group at the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine earlier this year, before losing 2-0 to Spain in the quarter-finals.
They currently rank 15th on the FIFA lists.
Now under new management, with former team captain Didier Deschamps in charge, the French could be about to show the sort of form that their stellar line-up of players would warrant.
Deschamps will nevertheless need to show all the qualities he had as captain on the field to forge a team from some often unruly individuals.
He has made a start, dropping three of the four players who caused most disciplinary headaches at the European Championships.
Basically the Finns need to win this one - and indeed get a result in all their home matches.
With World Cup holders and recent European Champions Spain also in the group, and only the nine group winners progressing automatically to the finals in Rio, it is going to be a tough ask for a side still in transition.
Most have already discarded the idea of qualifying for Rio in 2014, but a solid performance in this campaign will build confidence leading up to the 2016 European Championships, which Paatelainen has already said are the main target.
Results also have an economic impact: the Finnish FA were hurt badly by the early defeats in the past Euro qualifiers, with attendances reduced, even for the arrival of the likes of The Netherlands.
Finland vs. France (UEFA Qualifying Group I), Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, 7.9.2012. Kick-off 21:30, gates open 20:00.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Positive vibes as Paatelainen unveils squad for France World Cup qualifier (28.8.2012)
Finland national football team (Wikipedia)