Sillamäe Kalev host Johvi this weekend looking to keep the heat up on the top three. Johvi are having something of a resurgence, winning two games in a row (only their second and third victories this year), scoring almost a quarter of their entire season’s goals in those games (8/33) and moving above Kalev into 9th place.
Focus on Sillamäe (4/10, 64pts)
Sillamäe are in excellent form, having won 10 of their last 11 games (the only blip a 1-0 home defeat by Levadia) and sit five points behind Kalju in third, and eight off Levadia at the top. Their meteoric rise may have come slightly too late, but they are primed to take advantage of any points dropped as the top teams clash in the final fixtures and Sillamäe themselves take on Levadia on Matchday 35.
They have no new injuries or suspensions, and should field their strongest team with Evgeny Kabaev leading the line, and Stanislav Murikhin and Kyrylo Silich supporting him. Nikolai Mashichev may complete the attacking foursome, unless Aleksandr Dubokin is deployed there as he has been in recent weeks. Deniss Tjapkin and Daniil Ratnikon will compete in the centre of midfield with Mindaugas Baguzis returning from suspension in the centre of defence.
Injuries and Suspensions:
Volodin, Kvasov, Murikhin, Mashichev, Baguzis and Dubokin are all a yellow card away from suspension.
Key man: Evgeny Kabaev
The man simply cannot stop scoring. The league’s top scorer has notched 27 in his last 20 matches, failing to score in just four of those games. Johvi will have their work cut out trying to stop him, although he has only netted in one of his last three.
Focus on Jõhvi (9/10, 15pts)
Two wins in their last two games have seen Johvi do the impossible and rise off the bottom of the table. Their mini-revival has come too late for them to attempt a survival bid, but credibility is something they will want to secure. Their two wins came over fellow strugglers Narva and Kalev, who they replaced in 9th place, but Sillamae will certainly pose a much stronger threat. Prior to their two victories, Johvi conceded 21 goals in four matches.
Johvi are often forced to rotate their squad depending on player availability, so pinning down their starting XI is always something of a challenge. Aleksandr Nikulin has been quite a constant up front, and his two goals last time out should secure him a start here. Andrei Jogi may support him from behind, with Stanislav Yablokov on the right of the attack.
Maksim Bazjukin is suspended, and his place may be taken by Lasha Naveriani, with Konstantyne Alania lining up in the centre of midfield.
Injuries and Suspensions:
Bazjukin and Zahharenkov are suspended, after the former’s yellow card limit was reached and the latter’s red card against Kalev.
Rudomin, Kaivoja and Naveriani are a booking away from suspension.
Key man: Andrei Jogi
Jogi has scored in Johvi’s last two wins, and his place between attack and midfield puts focus on him as the go-between. Sillamae are hard to break down, so Jogi’s ability to get between their lines is of paramount importance.
Both sides employ identical formations, but Sillamae’s form and strength means that Johvi need something as well as tactical nous. They need to be strong, disciplined and brave if they are to stop Sillamae, and Kabaev in particular, getting at them early on.
Sillamae can attack down the middle and from the wings, so Johvi’s central midfielders will need to focus a little more on their defensive responsibilities to ensure they are alert. If the hosts get in front early, it will be a long game for Johvi. Their best hope is to contain their opponents and hope to catch them on the break, exploiting any gaps left by over-committing to the attack.
Sillamäe’s wins: 3
Jõhvi’s wins: 3
Goals scored by Sillamäe: 11
Goals scored by Jõhvi: 3
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Sillamäe's rows: Evgeny Kabaev (CF) 59 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Jõhvi's rows: Maksim Bazjukin (RMF) 38 goals
THE REFEREES SQUAD
(statistics courtesy of Heigo Niilop)
Miko Pupart will officiate. His 38 Premier Liiga matches have seen 131 yellow cards, and 11 reds, 7 of which have been for two yellow cards.
Info about the game
The game will be played on Saturday 4th October at Sillamäe Staadion. Kick-off is at 13:00.
Tickets cost 2 euros, discounted tickets are 1 euro, and Under 16's and pensioners can watch the game free of charge.
The match will be streamed live on Postimees here.