1. Escape for two
Nõmme Kalju 24, Flora 21. After that, a gap of 11 and 8 points (Levadia and Sillamäe) or 12 and 9 (FC Infonet). Last season, after the first nine games (one quarter of the season) there were five clubs in three points:
Levadia, Flora, Sillamäe 18
FC Infonet 17
Three of the top five teams have been underperforming compared to last season with Levadia being the evident example.
Result: instead of a competitive fight, we’re assisting at the couple Kalju-Flora slightly taking off from the rest of the lot. It is one of the many surprises.
The upcoming Flora-Levadia derby promises to increase the existing gap especially with the titleholders in disarray.
2. Levadia are slipping away
Probably the fact that Levadia are silently letting the title go is the last of the problems. The Flora-Levadia game will already be the acid test for Marko Kristal and his job. It should be mentioned that Flora do not win a home ‘Clasico’ since 2011 and the chance now seems the best ever to end the drought and provoke an earthquake in the 2014 Champions changing room. After 12 games without a win in Premium Liiga, they would give everything back to Levadia with the interests.
It is early to celebrate a funeral, however it does not look any good for the club that dominated domestic football in the past two seasons.
3. Tammeka vs. anti-football: 1-0
Let’s be honest, switching on to watch Tartu Tammeka vs. Viljandi Tulevik is not the proper Friday evening football gourmet choice. However, the return of the ‘Livonia Derby’ was enough to create curiosity around a game that was attended by over 600 people at the Tamme Stadium (a great number considering the same evening was busy with basketball as Tartu Rock was facing the first game of the semi-finals play-offs…).
Tammeka are trying to play football. All the merit goes to Indrek Koser and the technical staff. The improved pre-season situation has shown that, in normal conditions, Tammeka are doing things professionally albeit being an amateur club. Obviously, results are alternate as the club progresses so far (LLLDWLWD) however, you can see an attempt to offer a decent idea of football even for a relegation-fight side. Attempts of mindful build-up, short passes and quality (Rääbis, Paju and the never-ending Tiirik) are the highlights of Tammeka’s effort which has produced the best point collection of the bottom five: 8, one more than Narva Trans and six more than Paide LM (!). Safety is still far, but the structure is good. We cannot say the same about Viljandi, implementing a defunct idea of Estonian football probably practiced still aplenty in lower leagues: kick the ball forward for the most-talented guy (Joonas Tamm) and god bless! Would you say Aivar Lillevere was the national team coach (ad interim) once?
4. Who can stop Nõmme Kalju?
The answer would seem: no one. However the tableleaders are awaited by three delicate games since they will receive Narva Trans and then travel to Eastern Estonia to exchange the favour and square up again with the tough opposition offered by FC Infonet. Not to mention that, after these three games, there’s another derby with Levadia. If they manage to win those three before the 72nd derby planned for the 23rd of May, they can beat the all-time record belonging to Levadia itself: 11 wins in a row at the start.
Catch me if you can.
5. Premium Liiga is divided into three ‘groups’
This is a corollary of 1., however it’s worth to stress that.
The tournament is taking the looks of a run with three different paces and targets.
The first group is limited to Kalju and Flora. For how long, it will be determined by their ability not to lose points with the other 8 and with each other. The target is obviously the final victory.
The second group is limited to Levadia, Sillamäe and FC Infonet. They have proved they can lose points easily, therefore the one who will make the least mistakes will achieve the target: the third place.
The third and last group is unchanged: 5 teams fighting for the relegation. Tammeka and Narva Trans represent the elites, Paide LM hope to get back to that status soon. Both Pärnu LM and Viljandi Tulevik have done better than Lokomotiv last season: 5 points each against 1, adding intrigue to the fight.
Pick yours and have fun.