Matchday 4 in Premium Liiga and it's already time for a Tallinn derby.
Nõmme Kalju will receive tableleader, FC Flora on Saturday at Hiiu Stadium (16:00 EET).
Let's check the health status of the two sides and what will be the most importat tactical themes of the intriguing clash
Start of season and health status
If it weren't for the technical defeat caused by the mistake with fielding Andre Järva , Nõmme Kalju would be top of the table along with Flora with 3 wins out of 3 games.
They have the best defence of the Premium Liiga as Vitali Teleś never had to collect a ball from the back of the net (neither did he when Kalju won 1-0 against FC Infonet).
The great start of Prins' XI it's not even matched by the 2012 season (the one of the title) when Kalju collected 7 points in three games scoring 4 goals and suffering 1.
In the light of that, it is obvious that the regret for the annulled result will give extra motivation to Kalju for winning this game.
Neemelo has scored two goals (if we include also the winner against FC Infonet) and the 4-2-3-1 is fully supported by the midfield as Kimbaloula (2) Wakui (1) and Fabio Prates (2) have all scored a goal besides serving at least one assist.
After the light injury that prevented him from taking part to the Estonian national team game in Gibraltar and to Kalju start of season, Martin Vunk had his first cap for Kalju against Paide subbing Reginald. The French midfielder has well impressed and is still on the way to score his first goal in Premium Liiga. If there were doubts about the performance of the brand new mid-line after departure of Eino Puri and Yankuba 'Mal' Ceesay, they were cleared out by the brilliant start of season. Vunk can be the added value as much as Dmitrijev was for Levadia last season.
4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1?
If two clues make an evidence, then Igor Prins should opt for the 4-2-3-1 as used against FC Infonet and Paide Linnameeskond. Prins might have a think at 4-4-1-1 if he will be more concerned to contain the flanks pressure brought by the likes of Gussev and Alliku and to create an adequate wall to prevent Beglarishvili to float around the lines. The Reintam-Bärengrub partnership will be put under the stress test of Premium Liiga's best attack (11) and topscorer (Prosa, 4), a circumstance that might lead the 47-years-old coach to a more prudent attitude a-la'-Levadia in order to speculate on quick counters with the likes of Kimbaloula and Toomet (or Mööl) on the flanks.
Key-man: Allan Kimbaloula
Two goals and two assists. His speed can be deadly on Kalju's left flank. Compared to the other games, Markus Jürgenson will have more concerns in taking care of the defensive phase rather than supporting Alliku in the offensive one.
The only player sidelined by an injury is Damiano Quintieri. 'Il TIR' is working hard to try to recover from his knee injury and should be back on the pitch in about a month and a half if there will not be further setbacks.
Previous games on 'Rumori di Spogliatoio'
Nõmme Kalju vs. FC Infonet
Start of season and health status
Three games and three wins for the 'florakad' with 11 goals scored and only one suffered (they conceded Lokomotiv Jõhvi their only Premium Liiga goal so far).
A better start compared to 2011 when they won the title as they collected 7 points in the first three matchdays scoring just 3 goals and suffering 1.
If the 'tiki-taka' in Estonian sauce is yet to come, Flora have shown that they can still be deadly when given too much space to roam in.
Albert Prosa is always there with his poacher's instinct to exploit each and any mistake that the oppositions' defences are keen to commit.
Rauno Alliku and Maksim Gussev are providing sharpness and cutting edge to the build-up (4 assists for the latter) and Zaxara Beglarishvili is probably the added value that has brought unpredicatability to Flora's finishing job in the last third of the pitch.
Zaxa has shown that he can solve a game (the Supercup final) with one of his skilful plays which can unlock the stalemate and decide the final score.
Two of his three goals came in the last minutes of the games (Supercup and against Tammeka).
The defence is working well with veteran Taavi Rähn bringing the solidity missing last season and helping Karol Mets to develop in his role of backward playmaker.
Karl-Erik Luigend is little by little adapting to his new role of defensive midfielder in front of the back line.
If Kalju will operate with 4-2-3-1 he will have to be careful to either Wakui or Mööl floating around his competence zone.
There is no doubt that Norbert Hurt will not change his credo for a single game.
He has stress tested his formation in tough friendlies against the likes of HJK, Brondby and FC Lahti and he is probably not going to change anything in a derby fixture.
However, the intelligent coach is flexible when needed: if the XI will be too stretched on the pitch (it has happened) giving a chance to Kalju to re-organize and strike in counterattack with their quick men, it will be wise to opt for a more balanced 4-4-1-1 lining Frolov and Luigend in the middle and giving a chance to Beglarishvili to be more dangerous in the final third behind Prosa.
Key-man: Zaxara Beglarishvili
He is very inspired since the very first game (unless we want to consider also the 'End of Year Tournament' when he shone as topscorer - 6 - and best player) and the difficult period is definitely behind his back.
If Hurt will decide to use him as an additional weapon more up front, Reintam and Bärengrub might have a hard day.
As of now only German Ślein is sidelined by an injury (ankle sprain) and is recovering.
Sander Post would be also available and apparently in great shape as he scored a brace with Flora double in Esiliiga. His experience coming from the bench might help Flora in difficult moments of the game. He has just become a father and this might give additional motivation in the finishing job.
Previous games in 'Rumori di Spogliatoio'
Levadia vs. Flora
Flora vs. Paide
Flora vs. Tammeka
KALJU VS. FLORA HEAD TO HEAD
Clashes in Premium Liiga: 24
Kalju's wins: 6
Flora's wins: 12
Goals scored by Kalju: 30
Goals scored by Flora: 42
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Kalju's rows: Tarmo Neemelo, 150 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Flora's rows: Albert Prosa and Sander Post, 69 goals
The game will probably be decided on the flanks: Jürgenson-Alliku vs. Kallaste-Kimbaloula will be the match into the match.
Aloe might have quite a stressfuk day if either Toomet or Mööl on the right flank will be inspired (they haven't been much so far).
Begla's unpredictability against Wakui's one: good reason for an old-style man marking?
They might compel one of the midfielders (Reginald on one side and Luigend on the other) to drop and follow).
Neemelo will give a stress test to Rähn-Mets, however much more reference on the pitch compared to Prosa, constantly moving between the lines, vertically and horizontally: the Kalju's clean sheet will be put on serious trial.
If 4-2-3-1 (Kalju) against 4-1-4-1 (Flora), Alliku and Gussev might have to carry out more defensive tasks than offensive ones, and the latter has shown in pre-season to prefer the attacking phase much better.
THE REFEREES SQUAD
The direction of the derby is entrusted in the hands of Mr.Roomer Tarajev.
34-years-old from Tartu, he has already officiated two games this season showing a total of 5 yellow cards (4 in Levadia - Paid and 1 in Lokomotiv - Kalju).
He's been officiating in Premium Liiga for 5 seasons, 80 games, showing 321 yellow cards and 24 red ones ( 4 and 0,3 a game)
First assistant will be Martin Lember and second one Maikel Mikson.
Fourth official following the game from the touchline will be Martin Salong.
Penalty boxes officials will be implemented for this game with the help of Kristo Tohver (5th) and Heigo Niilop (6th)
INFORMATION ABOUT THE GAME
The game will be held at Hiiu Stadium, in Tallinn's district of Nõmme where the club is based. Last time it was in September 2011 and Kalju won 3-0.
Kick off at 16:00 EET.
Nõmme Kalju are aiming at a full house.
The facility would normally contain 300 people in the covered only stand, however the club is building an additional stand for 800 people that would bring the capacity to over a thousand.
Additionally, the club is giving out 13,000 free passes to Nõmme district residents.
The pass is valid for two people.
Theoretically, if all the passes would be used, 26,000 people might turn up at the entrance.
Ticket price at the entrance is 10€, 2,5€ if bought earlier via Piletilevi ticket system (here), 3,5€ if participating to the Facebook event .
Children up to 6 years get in for free accompained by adults.
2,5€ for pensioners and children between 7 and 14 years of age.
Statistical sources: Transfermarkt.de and Footballdatabase.eu