On January 31, RdS had the chance to watch the Tallinn derby between FC Levadia and FC Flora. Besides the fact that in the past two seasons it was Levadia and Kalju that had the main word in Premium Liiga, the matches between these two teams have always been magnet for the audience and motive more for the players to prove their coaches they deserve a place in the team.
Lining up what will probably be their first squad team, coach Marko Kristal showed how serious he takes these preparation games. Just like against Kalju, in this match Levadia played a classical 4-4-2 formation with Smiško on the goal, Artjunin and Jahhimovits in central defense, Podholjuzin was deployed at the right back position, while Kruglov started on the left. In central midfield position were the standard Antonov and Dmitrijev, El Husseini (who gets more and more chances by Kristal) took on the left wing and the right flank belonged to Subbotin. The front line was reserved for Teever and Rättel.
Unlike the match against Kalju, this time Levadia took the initiative from the very beginning and created excellent chance already in the third minute. Free kick from the right side, nice ball curled inside the box by Kruglov, gets to Dmitrijev whose excellent shot instigated even better save by Toom. Another chance followed soon after when Levadia gained possession in midfield, good combination between the two strikers but the shot went over the bar. In the 10th minute Levadia fans’ hearts skipped a beat when the goalkeeper Smiško almost lost the ball while trying to dribble in his own box. However, it came out to be a moment that just gave Levadia’s players will and desire to push forward. What followed in the next 10-15 minutes was a complete take over.
First Rättel missed one on one chance against the goalkeeper, then Toom again proved to be the savior when he managed to get off his line and got to the ball moments before Teever and there was another dangerous corner that shook Flora’s defensive line once again. At these moments it is important to mention the contribution of both central midfielders Antonov and especially Dmitrijev, who simply orchestrated the game creating chances and space for both wingers. Despite dominating possession, however, there were no serious chances to break the deadlock. As the first half was coming to an end there were more mistakes by both sides and the only positive thing to be pointed out must be again the good connection between Kruglov and El Husseini who created numerous chances for the reigning champions.
During the second half, coach Marko Kristal gave chance to Pikker, Kulinits, Voltskov, Tamm, Kaljumäe, Aallikko, Rohtla, and the new signing from Narva, the striker Vladislav Ivanov. The beginning saw FC Flora getting more of the ball and putting more pressure in the midfield threatening especially from the left side. It was Levadia, however, the team that had the first chance. Heiko Tamm looked fresh on the left flank and caused a lot of trouble for the defenders managing to get corner from his side. As time passed by, the champions slowly took over control and if it wasn’t for the goalkeeper Prins who had two amazing saves, they would have taken the lead already in 67th minute. The long awaited goal came in the 78th minute. Henry Rohtla received a ball 20 meters from the goal, entered the box and scored with an excellent shot in the near low post of the goalkeeper Prins. In the last 10 minutes Levadia’s players just managed to get hold of the ball and kept Flora’s players 30 meters from the goal.
The final whistle marked another routine win for the champions and an end of a successful preparation period. Marko Kristal can definitely be happy with the motivation, agility and competitiveness his players showed during this time and his only headache will be which ones should get the nod for the Super Cup match against the old rivals Flora on February 25.