Rise the hand who would have said three months ago that Lokomotiv could have played their chances for a play-off spot against anyone?
At half-season, Lokomotiv had collected only three points having Kalev above their heads with 12.
Since then, Kalev have not managed to collect anything apart from 12 straight losses. Loko managed to fill the gap and now will manage to play their chances of clinching the 9th spot which means they could go to the play-off with an Esiliiga side to retain Premium Liiga. There will be still 5 games to go, however, seeing the way things have been going for Kalev, a win in Tallinn could mean already putting the hands on the un-hoped for achivement for the Eastern Estonia club.
Focus on Tallinna Kalev (9/10, 12pts)
At every preview concerning a game involving Kalev, we can only update the status of their (negative) records: 13 losses in a row (24 total), 119 goals suffered in 30 game (almost 4 goals per game conceded), -100 the goal difference. The last win and the last time they collected points, it dates back to the 21st of June when they beat Narva Trans 3-1 and it was matchday 17. Kalev have just scored 19 goals in 30 games (0,63 per game). Apparently it can only go worse for a side that seems to have totally given up to any chance first to save themselves and then to reach the play-off. There's not even one ounce of the fighting spirit shown by Lokomotive in the second part of season. At the moment Kalev are 9th just thanks the wins (3 vs. 2) however, if they will lose, goal difference will kick in and there's about a 30 goals gap between the two clubs securing Loko the 9th place.
Key man: Lasha Omanidze
All the quality is in his feet. It is already hard with him, without it becomes basically a 'mission impossible'. He can give some trouble to Loko's slow defence and score at least one.
Injuries and Suspensions
No suspensions and no injuries in our record, however, dealing with an amateur team, availability is often subject to personal reasons. Omanidze, A.Savitski, Heintare and Armean are all one card away from suspension.
The latter, together with Karpov, they are the only players who were suspended at Kalev this season. Quite telling when a side fighting for relegation doesn't collect many cards.
Focus on Lokomotiv Jõhvi (10/10, 12pts)
This has probably been the most enthusing and yet tense week of Loko's first season in Premium Liiga. It looked like they were going to take the first train (ops!) for the Esiliiga, instead they are now challenging Kalev for the play-off spot. The way Lasha Naveriani released all the tension in the goal celebration for the winner against Narva Trans explains a lot on how this team has worked hard in trying to get rid of all the frustration accumulated since the beginning of the season. They have tried to psychologically separate what are the games against the top5 and the games against the other 4 relegation contenders by focusing on the latters. A strategy that did pay off since Loko collected most of his seasonal points (9 out of 12) in the second part by drawing against Paide (0-0), Tammeka (3-3) and Narva Trans (2-2) and by winning against Kalev (1-0) and Narva Trans (3-2).
Key man: Maksim Bazjukin
In the game against Narva his name did not make it to the scorecard. We're sure this time he wants to tie it with another historical win, the first away from Jõhvi.
Injuries and Suspensions
Loko did not spare themselves in the fight against Narva. Regardless the game ahead with Kalev, Kulikov and Nikulin were the casualties from suspensions. Rudomin, Kaivoja, Bazjukin and Naveriani are all one card away to get either the second (first two) or the first (the others).
What a difference with Kalev: Loko count already on 9 suspended players during the season (including the Maxime Mboungo, now free agent). This squad has fought to reach this moment of the season no one hoped for.
No injuries except the long-term Ivanovs whose season can be considered over.
When the most terrible defences of the league (119 vs. 100) face each other, the one who will score most goals will win. Do not expect wits from any side, this will be a tough and rough confrontation with a lot of cards shown to each side. There will be more attention to individual plays (Omanidze, Armean, Bazjukin, Naveriani) than team organization. Loko can still have the cutting edge with their fighting spirit and be less erratic in their build-up. Either way, lot of work for both goalkeepers, including Smelkov who conceded such a goal (see video below) to Narva last week.
Kalev’s wins: 4
Lokomotiv’s wins: 1
Goals scored by Lokomotiv: 8
Goals scored by Flora: 5
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Kalev's rows: Lasha Omanidze (CF) 6 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Lokomotiv's rows: Maksim Bazjukin (RMF) 38 goals
THE REFEREES SQUAD
(statistics courtesy of Heigo Niilop)
The referee of the game will be Martin Salong.
A former football player for FC Kuressaare, Salong has directed 88 games in Premium Liiga showing 304 yellow cards (3,45) and 4 straight red cards. The red cards for double booking are 13.
Info about the game
Kick-off is at 13:00 EEST (12:00 CEST) in Kalev Central Stadium.
The entrance is 4€, 50% discount for students, pensioners, if you attend the Facebook event here or if you hold a LHV Bank football card.