Nõmme Kalju travel to crisis-hit Narva Trans this weekend hoping to capitalise on any slip by Flora on Monday night. The 2011 champions ended their European campaign with a 3-1 aggregate defeat to Lech Poznan recently, with their attentions turning to the league.
Focus on Narva (7/10, 15pts)
Narva’s home record is just a touch better than their away record (9 points won at home), although they don’t tend to score many goals (10 in 10 games at home). Their defensive record is actually quite good (16 goals conceded at home) compared to the teams in and around them in the league, but it’s their recent defensive record that will be of great concern.
Five defeats in a row and a goal difference of 0-16 from their last three games has seen the Narva implosion continue at great pace.
Sergei Lepmets and Sergeijs Misins are the most recent departures from the sinking Narva ship, although Andrei Ornat and Ignat Epifanov have arrived from Zenit St. Petersburg’s academy to try and plug the gaps. With the core of their team already departed, however, it’s going to take a gargantuan effort to stop the rot.
Narva’s 4-2-3-1 should contain Artjom Skinjov, Viktor Plotnikov, recently-signed Ilia Osipov, and recently-returned Svjatoslav Jakovlev should form the attacking foursome if available, with Vadim Mihhailov and Vladislav Fjodorov waiting in the wings.
Epifanov and Andrejs Sinicins should form the central midfield partnership.
Roman Nesterovski is a booking away from suspension.
Key man: Ignat Epifanov
The Zenit academy product has truly been thrown into the fire at Narva. His job as a shield in front of the defence is of great importance to his side, as they try once more to get a grip on their form.
Tanel Tamberg and Bi Sehi Elysee Irie both remain absent.
Focus on Kalju (2/10, 48pts)
Kalju’s 5-0 win over Kalev last weekend, coupled with Levadia’s 3-2 defeat against Infonet, saw them move into second place in the league. They sit four points behind Flora, who host Levadia on Monday night in a top of the table Tallinn derby clash.
Kalju have earned the most points from their away games so far (25 points from 11 games), although they have played one and two more games than Levadia and Flora respectively. They are unbeaten in three on the road, but have only won on two of their last five trips away from home.
Kalju were afforded the luxury of squad rotation last weekend after their European exploits came to an end. Recent signing Jarmo Ahjupera bagged himself a hat-trick and a possible start again here.
Nicolas Galpin’s starting role at left back pushed Ken Kallaste forward into midfield, with the Estonian international bagging a goal and two assists in an impressive display.
Eino Puri, Damiano Quintieri and Felipe Nunes all had to settle for a place on the bench against Kalev, but they may be given a chance here as Prins has the opportunity to rotate his 4-4-1-1- system once more.
Martin Vunk is a booking away from suspension.
Key man: The Lone Striker
Whoever Prins decides to start up front will be Kalju’s key man. Expect plenty of chances for the visitors, and it will be up to the striker to put them away. Ahjupera might be given the nod after his hat-trick last weekend, and he should be keen to add to his tally in the absence of key players.
Tarmo Neemelo and Allan Kimbaloula are long-term absentees. Tihhon Sisov and Fabio Prates remain a couple of weeks away from a return.
Wakui, if starting, will see plenty of the ball for Kalju behind the striker, so it’s important for Narva’s defensive midfielders to crowd him out. That being said, with strong support on the wings, he won’t be spoilt for choice if he finds his route to goal blocked.
On paper, Narva’s 4-2-3-1 should be fairly competitive against Kalju’s 4-4-1-1 formation, but the application of those set-ups has varied greatly this season. Expect the Kalju wingers to stretch Narva, creating gaps for the likes of Wakui to run in to, and Kalju’s central midfielders to adequately deal with any threat Narva pose going forward.
NARVA TRANS VS. NÕMME KALJU HEAD-TO-HEAD
(last 6 Premium Liiga Matches via WhoScored.com)
Narva’s wins: 1
Kalju’s wins: 5
Goals scored by Narva: 4
Goals scored by Kalju: 15
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Narva's rows: Stanislav Kitto (CB) 55 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Kalju's rows: Juri Jevdokimov (CF) 77 goals*
*NB: Tarmo Neemelo (CF) is Kalju's leading scorer with 160 goals, but misses out due to injury
ODDS (the figures may be subject to variation)
More odds about this game available at
Betting Tip (by Chris Johns)
Another case of low odds for a game seemingly pre-decided. 1.15 for Kalju isn’t really worth the effort, but 1.33 for over 2.5 goals is a good price. Don’t expect too much of a contribution from the hosts, but the visitors are certainly capable of getting this bet over the line with ease.
Bet: Over 2.5
THE REFEREES SQUAD
(statistics courtesy of Heigo Niilop)
INFO ABOUT THE GAME
Kick-off at 16:00 EEST (18:00 CEST) on Saturday 2nd August at Kreenholm Stadium in Narva.
Entrance, 2€. 50% discount for entitled categories. The match will be streamed live on ERR here