The day of truth has come.
Flora 70 points vs. Kalju 66 points.
This derby clash is like a cup tie, either you are in or out.
The draw will only favour Levadia (assumingly snatching the three points in Tartu, our Tammeka friends will forgive us) whereas the win will mean a lot for each of the title contestants facing off in A.LeCoq Arena. Probably only Flora might still have an option if they lose, but for Kalju is definitely one of the last calls as they will also take on Levadia the weekend after before the international break.
INFOGRAPHIC: history of the derby clash here
Focus on FC Flora (1/10, 70 pts)
The morale is high considering that Flora has managed to retain the table leadership in the past two weeks after Levadia handed back the first spot following a one-week reign.
However, the final minutes of last weekend's Tammeka-Flora have something belonging to the inexplicable. On a 4-1 lead and with few minutes to time, Flora showed unnecessary nervousness in dealing with simple situations.
Mośnikov collected a second yellow card for trying to clinch a ball in the box that was already destined to the goalkeeper's hands. It was certainly not a worth-dying-for goal chance in a tight game since Flora had secured the three points already in first half (3-0). Few minutes later, Luigend tackle was made worth a straight red by referee Romer Tarajev. Was it worth? It looked more like a temporary black-out in Luigend's bright playing style. His face after he was shown the card tells more than any word: 'what the hell have I just done?'
He soon realized he would have missed the derby alongside Mośnikov.
Sometimes, we have been at odds with Tarajev's decisions, however this time we must admit the measures taken by the Estonian international referee were fair. Including the one that followed in injury time when he awarded a penalty to Tammeka. In fact, not happy with finishing the game two men light, Kevin Aloe gifted Rauno Tutk with a brace coming from the transformation. Again, another unnecessary gesture (shirt pulling) while the opponent was running away from the box to collect the ball travelling towards the touchline. Flora did not risk anything in Tartu, the reckless behaviour of some seems to have undermined the psychological balance of the team. 'Unjustifiable' was the word used by Norbert Hurt fingering at Luigend's fouling that cost him the next game in A.LeCoq Arena.
The derby will be the acid test for the ability of the squad to resist under pressure.
The options to replace the two suspended midfielders might be either Frolov-Lepistu or Frolov-Mets, shall Hurt opt to follow Pehrsson's advice to field the young defender as a midfielder also for club football. For Frolov it's a big chance to prove it was not a good decision to sideline him for giving playing time to Mośnikov. Moving Mets to midfield might mean entrusting the young Juha with a start in the derby as central defender alongside Rähn. It would be a big leap for the promising player of the second team, however Hurt might not take such a risk against Premium Liiga's fourth striking force.
The most-likely solution in this case, would be to start Baranov as central defender, as the full-back is acquainted with the role.
Key-man: Rauno Alliku
Alliku's season has been according to the expectations everyone has from a player with his features. He dwells permanently in our 'Best XI' and can contibute both in setting up Prosa and in scoring himself. He will face another Premium Liiga top player as Ken Kallaste. Sparking duel running on along the touchline with no speed limits.
Injuries and suspensions
As mentioned above, except Luigend and Mośnikov, all the others are ready and available for selection. Considering the next game will be against the boogeyman, FC Infonet, concerns come from Prosa and Jürgenson, both one card away from suspension. Shall he be part of the game (he might replace Logua during second half) also Maksim Gussev is close to be suspended for the first time this season.
Focus on Nõmme Kalju (3/10 66pts)
Igor Prins knows that much of Kalju's chances to continue hoping in the title depends on this game.
Winning the derby against Flora it's only one part of it, as the next step will be taking on Levadia. Kalju have few chances here: either winning both games or simply being content with securing the Europa League place away from Sillamäe's ambitions. In order to make the game in Kadriorg next week, they need to beat Flora at their home and for the first time this season (two draws and one loss is the negative balance in the 2014 head-to-head). Under this point of view, the Kalju gaffer cannot opt for any kind of rotation and must go all-in with his best XI. As a result, Martin Vunk will return in the midfield partnering with Fabio Prates and Karl Mööl will play his last game as right full-back before leaving for the military duty (from 30th of September). Unless there will be unfortunate last-minute inuries, the rest of the XI shall be the same that turned the game on its head against Paide in the dying minutes at Kadriorg. If the 3-1 win taken by the scruff of the neck was a great sign of liveliness and capacity of being into the game until the very final whistle, it worries considering that Flora tops the table of points achieved in second halves (check stat in our special table widget here). It will be very hard to recover from any mistake this time despite the die-hard attitude of many Kalju players (Rodrigues to name one). Felipe Nunes has shown to be in great form and might want to leave his name in this derby that will mean a lot for Kalju fans.
Key-man: Ken Kallaste
It will be the duel on the left flank with the opposing Rauno Alliku that might probably determine this game. Nunes playing all over the field might leave him alone at times, however he is able to exploits the spaces created like no one else. As Rauno Alliku, he can easily set up or score in one of his forays. The additional weapons are his sharp corner kicks delivered into the box.
Injuries and suspensions
Kimbaloula, Quintieri and Reintam are usual names. According to 'Rumori' sources, Vunk was apparently rotated for a minor knock and not to preserve him for the derby. The Estonian international is indeed one card away from suspension as Reginald and Wakui. With Levadia coming up next weekend, these are fair concerns for Prins&Co.
High speed duels on the flanks to bypass the probable overload of the midfield. Alliku-Jürgenson vs. Kallaste-Nunes is probably the most interesting one as Puri will do his utmost to take care and block Irakli Logua. In case the latter will prove uneffective in the first 50 minutes of play, Hurt can play the Gussev cards to unsettle Kalju in the final part of the game. At that point Fabio Prates will have to do some additional work to cover the defence and might leave interesting spaces for Flora midfielders. If Frolov will start, he has to show he can overcome his 'international complex' by trying to get better than Martin Vunk in the middle of the park. Last season he could not do that with Dmitrjev.
Flora’s wins: 1
Kalju’s wins: 3
Goals scored by Flora: 7
Goals scored by Kalju: 11
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Flora's rows: Albert Prosa (CF) 85 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Kalju's rows: Tarmo Neemelo (FW) 159 goals
THE REFEREES SQUAD
(statistics courtesy of Heigo Niilop)
The referee of the game will be Roomer Tarajev. The much discussed match director has whistled 113 games in Premium Liiga showing 475 yellow cards (4,20) and 15 red cards. 17 red cards were shown for a double booking.
Tarajev has directed this derby earlier. The first time was on the 13th of September 2011 when Flora won 1-0. In April 2012 Kalju-Flora 2-0. Two games in 2013: Kalju-Flora 4-3 (May) and 2-2 (October). In March, he directed the 1-1 draw in Hiiu stadium.
He has shown a total of 23 cards in 5 games and a red card to Kalju for double booking. In the clash on October 2013, he also assigned a penalty each.
The yellow cards tally is parted as such:
Info about the game
Kick-off on Saturday the 27th of September (Saturday) at 16:00 EEST (15:00 CEST).
Entrance to A.LeCoq Arena is 4€.
The 50% discount is for students, kids up to 12 years old and pensioners. The quickest at the ticket counter will get a free poster of Karol Mets (like the above) signed by the Estonian international himself
Last time in A.LeCoq Arena, the crowd turnout was 2,494. It will not be easy to hit the same number considering that the autumn weather has officially started and the temperatures have sensibly dropped. Additionally, the game will be broadcast on Estonian public TV (live streaming available here)
Unmissable the interval show of the Flora Dance Team (sample video below).