Narva Trans travel to Nõmme Kalju with both teams desperately seeking a win, though for very different reasons. Kalju are fighting on two fronts, with one eye on the title and one eye on ensuring they finish at least third, with Narva trying to stave off the very real threat of relegation. Both sides have been hit by suspensions at the wrong time, however, so focus will be on how they can adapt under pressure.
Focus on Kalju (3/10, 69 pts)
Nõmme Kalju couldn’t follow up their 2-0 win at Flora as they went down 3-2 to Levadia last time out, leaving them six points behind leaders Levadia with four games to go, albeit with seemingly the easiest title run-in (as documented in our title chase preview).
Levadia played 86 minutes of the game with 10-men, so Kalju will doubly feel like they missed an opportunity in that game, but they will certainly not give up chasing until it’s mathematically over. Levadia and Flora both meet this match-day and Kalju will be hoping for anything but a Levadia win.
It would, however, be fair to say that one might feel that their attentions will turn a little more significantly to making sure they secure European football next season, with Sillamae lurking two points behind them in fourth.
Kalju will be forced into some changes; their indiscipline against Levadia will cost them the services of Jorge Rodrigues, Martin Vunk, Eino and Alo Barengrub, with their defence in particular taking a hit. Karl Mööl is also unavailable due to military service.
Mikk Reintam is the obvious choice to come into the centre of defence, with Igor Prins possibly looking to fill the other gap with reserve defender Henri Purg. Ken Kallaste and Tihhon Sisov could move in to the centre, but it is likely Prins will want to play them to their strengths.
Kalju’s midfield is a little deeper, though Karl Mööl’s absence also causes them some problems. Fabio Prates and Damiano Quintieri, if fit enough, are the likeliest candidates to come in, with Robert Kirss also an option.
Felipe Nunes may make way for the returning Wakui in the Trequartista position in behind Neemelo, with Prins having the option to shuffle Nunes forward in place of Neemelo if need be.
Injuries and Suspensions
Eino Puri, Martin Vunk and Jorge Rodrigues reached their yellow card limit in the Levadia match and are suspended. Alo Barengrub is also out as a result of his double booking in that match. Karl Mööl is unavailable for the final four games due to military service.
Reginald and Quintieri are a booking away from suspensions of their own.
Allan Kimbaloula remains Kalju’s only long-term absentee.
Key Man: Hidetoshi Wakui
The Japanese playmaker should be recharged following his suspension, and will want to pull the strings in order to help Kalju bounce back from the Flora defeat.
Focus on Narva Trans (7/10, 28 pts)
Following three wins from four, Narva have now gone three without victory, and this form has hit them at exactly the wrong time. They have won just one match on the road in eight games too, so the signs aren’t good for the border side.
Narva sit three points above Tammeka, who occupy eighth place, and they will be hoping that Sillamäe can do them a favour with a win down in Tartu.
As fate would have it, Narva also find themselves without key players going into the game. Sinicins, Jakovlev and Plotnikov have all reached their yellow card limit, depriving the team of, arguably, their most influential players.
Ilya Osipov returns from how own suspension to ease their concerns, and Vadim Mihhailov is likely to step in to the attack. German-Guri Lvov could show his versatility to fill the final gap, as Narva need to reshuffle.
Artjom Skinjov is likely to be pushed up front to replace Plotnikov.
Injuries and Suspensions
Sinicins, Plotnikov and Jakovlev are suspended after reaching their yellow card limit.
Tanel Tamberg and Bi Sehi Elysee Irie are Narva’s only long-term absentees.
Ornat and Epifanov are a booking away from their own suspensions.
Key Man: Artjom Skinjov
Wherever Skinjov is deployed Narva need him to put in a performance. Despite them having absentees of their own, Narva need to try and take advantage of Kalju’s squad problems, and Skinjov can be the driving force whether he is used in midfield or up front.
Kalju’s absentees mean that they will be looking for Wakui to provide their spark. Prins might use Quintieri and Toomet to get at Narva from out wide, although Kalju do sometimes struggle with a lack of support in the centre when playing wide.
Narva are likely to find their attacking threat blunted by absences, and have to ensure they plug the gaps well enough to stop Kalju’s threat first and foremost. If Narva are to threaten, it will be on the counter and most likely in a fairly narrow way. Kalju should take the spoils if Wakui can find himself some space around the edge of the box and their wide men can use their flair to get in behind the Narva defence.
Kalju’s wins: 4
Narva’s wins: 1
Goals scored by Kalju: 11
Goals scored by Narva: 4
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Kalju's rows: Tarmo Neemelo (ST) 160 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Narva’s rows: Stanislav Kitto (CB) 55 goals
THE REFEREE'S SQUAD
(statistics courtesy of Heigo Niilop)
Roomer Tarajev officiates this one. 115 games with 489 yellow cards shown (4,25). 18 red cards were shown for a second yellow, whereas 16 were straight ones.
Info about the game
The match will be played at 13:00 on Saturday 18th October at Kadriorg Stadium.
Kalju's interesting ticketing policy: If you buy it at the stadium it costs 10 eur, FB event attendance will get you in for 3.5 eur, and if you get it from piletilevi.ee it costs 2.5, which is the price for kids up to 14 and pensioners.
The game will also be streamed on Postimees here.