The big derbies mini-tournament comes to an end with the last clash which he can righteously nickname 'El Clasico'. FC Levadia and FC Flora are the most-titled Estonian clubs: 17 Estonian titles, 13 Estonian Cups and 13 Estonian Supercups account for 43 titles.
After the shocking start with Paide Linnameeskond, little by little Kristal's side has got back in track.
8 points in 5 games is the lowest tally of the top-5 if we consider Kalju won their opening game later annulled.
The direct clashes have been balanced with a domestic draw against Sillamäe (2-2) and last week derby against Kalju (0-0). In the end the loss with Paide was mitigated by the others challengers slowing down here and there. It will be a long season and 3 points short of tableleader Sillamäe are certainly not an issue.
However it is probably the worst moment to come across Flora as the white-greens are wounded (lost 2-3 to FC Infonet) and are seeking to resume their winning strike.
It will not be a real 'home' game for Levadia as of now Kristal's side has been playing their home fixtures at Sportland Arena, traditionally FC Flora ground until A.leCoq Arena turf is ready.
The main problem for FC Levadia has been being effective in the last 15 meters.
The 12-goal tally makes Levadia the third best striking force. However, the figure is doped by the 8-0 win against Kalev. It was more of a training game for Rättel&Co. than a Premium Liiga fixture.
Apart from that exploit, Levadia have scored 4 goals in 4 games, one goal a game and they have been twice unable to put it past the oppositions' goalkeepers (Niinepuu and Teleś).
Ingemar Teever has been the man Kristal has been counting most upon, however, the nr.11, seems to have not adapted in the role of main striker in the place of Rimo Hunt. He was brilliant last season as supporting striker.
Artur Rättel performances have been fluctuating. He probably suffered Kristal's initial lack of trust in him (after all it seems he had to give up to the possibility of going abroad to prolong with Levadia) and now is little by little trying to carve his space in the XI. Behind him Arsenij Buinickij is also trying to impress, so far only a nice overhead kick goal against Kalev.
If Kristal has replaced Rättel in the course of last week's derby against Kalju, it is quite luckily might give a start to the Lithuanian for the second time this season (first was against Paide). Buinickij showed a bit more of fighting attitude in what was a tight derby.
At the same time, Flora's defence sudden vulnerability might suggest the 40-year-old coach to give Artur another chance to create troubles to Luigend&Co.
In the other roles it is quite likely Kristal will not make any change: the defensive line is tested with Podholjuzin-Artjunin-Jahhimovits-Pikk to resist to Flora's fluid lines.
What might be changed compared to the game against Kalju is the man taking care of the right flank. As the previous derby has shown, Pavel Marin has been adapted in the role. However, playing against the likes of Ken Kallaste and Allan Kimbaloula stressed his limits. Given that Aloe and Gussev will be likely to float there, Kristal might get convinced to give Subbotin a start again.
It's Kristal's credo and he won't change it. He might ask the second striker to drop on the midfield line to help covering the space where the likes of Frolov and Beglarishvili like to go into. In this sense, it seems quite logical he might really opt to send in Buinickij from the start. Rättel could come on in the second half once both teams are more tired.
It will be another tactical chess game and it will be very important to move correctly the pawns on the table, something Kristal is very good at. 'Vuko' has already shown good composure in the role that belonged to Dmitrijev. With the likes of Prosa and Beglarishvili moving up and down like two cursors, his job will be paramount to support the defence here and the midfield there as they will have less benchmarks to count on compared to the game against Kalju.
Levadia are fully healthy as no squad member has been hit by an injury.
In football, unbeatability is like virginity: once you have lost it, you don't think about it anymore.
2014 Flora have lost their virginity against a young and bold FC Infonet. Last year it happened against Levadia, so under this point of view it was probably better it happened last week as psychologically the game will be deprived of the 'not-to-lose-to-Levadia' obligation.
Quite peculiarly, Flora had played very well until last Friday's fixture, whereas Infonet performances had been fluctuating. The roles switched in the first half of the intriguing clash in Sportland Arena with Infonet leading 2-0. A lead squandered in second half thanks to set-pieces. However, Eduard 'Lethal Weapon' Golovljov, changed the score in the very last minutes of the game thanks to a defensive mistake by Karol Mets.
There it is Flora main '?', the defence. Only Infonet have suffered more (6) in the top 5. Out of five games, Flora have managed to keep the clean sheet only twice (Paide and Tammeka).
If Levadia have scored only 4 goals net of the 'goleada' against Kalev, Norbert Hurt cannot be too much sure that odds will be respected in the light of what happened against Infonet when they were overturned.
The two men in front of defence (Lepistu and Luigend) should represent enough coverage for the traditional 4-man defence (Jürgenson-Rähn-Mets-Aloe) however the problem does not lie in how many man will protect Toom's goal. As noticed in previous games by RdS, and as admitted by Norbert Hurt himself in the post-match interview last week, Flora tend to be too much outstretched on the pitch.
Fundamentally, and when not in possession, Flora's lines are too distant from each other.
A 'soft belly' that allowed Infonet to strike twice in counterattack. The XI needs to remind itself to move harmonically and as one trying to cover 25-30 meters of pitch for at least one hour of game. Instead, sometimes, Flora have the tendency to 'fall asleep' during the game forgetting to keep lines tight. Hurt will have to work a lot on this tactical disciplin aspect to avoid further shocks.
On with 4-2-3-1 or back to 4-1-4-1?
4-2-3-1 produced good results against Kalju as released Luigend from the pure defensive phase to free his flair in finding the final pass for Prosa. At the same time, it could give too much space to El-Hussieny on the right and Subbotin on the left. Hurt does not want to lose further points and not to go back to losing to Levadia after the Supercup win.
However, as the Supercup final itself showed, Levadia are a compact team and they do not get easily impressed by all the movement made by Flora's fluid lines. 4-1-4-1 might give Vukobratovic much more work than expected and compel the defenders to rise to follow Prosa&Co. However with a 4-2-3-1 Begla alone might be enough work for the Serbian defensive midfielder.
Hurt will have to be flexible and adapt the team according to the situation of the game.
Key-man: Zakaria Beglarishvili
When he sees Levadia jerseys he is like a bull seeing red. Three goals scored against the 'levadiakad' (two in 2012 in an epic 5-4 loss and the late-minute winner at the 2014 Supercup).
He did not have the usual impact in the derby against Kalju therefore he will be well motivated to have a comeback in terms of performance and goal tally for this game. Either on the 4-man midfield line (4-1-4-1) or in as a trequartista in the 4-2-3-1, he will give a lot of troubles to Vukobratovic.
The only injured, German Ślein, is back as he played half an hour with the double team last week.
LEVADIA VS. FLORA HEAD TO HEAD
Clashes in Premium Liiga: 60
Levadia's wins: 31
Flora's wins: 15
Goals scored by Levadia: 95
Goals scored by Flora: 67
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Levadia's rows: Ingemar Teever 116 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Flora's rows: Albert Prosa 71 goals
If Hurt will opt for a 4-2-3-1 again, Beglarishvili will be moved towards the goal giving additional troubles both to the pair of central defenders and to Vukobratovic who will have to do some extra job to cover the back line.
On the other hand, Kristal can have Subbotin and El-Hussieny between Flora's lines compelling Gussev and Alliku to some extra defensive job. The game might be very tactically balanced as the previous two derbies were. An individual play might unblock the stalemate in the same fashion as it happened in the Supercup. The usual suspects: Begla, Alliku, Prosa and Gussev on one side, El-Hussieny, Subbotin, Rättel and Antonov on the other side.
THE REFEREES SQUAD
The squad will be led by Roomer Tarajev who had a rest last week after the Kalju vs. Flora derby when Flora claimed for a penalty.
34-years-old from Tartu, he has already officiated three games this season showing a total of 10 yellow cards (5 in Kalju - Flora, 4 in Levadia - Paide and 1 in Lokomotiv - Kalju). He's been officiating in Premium Liiga for 5 seasons, 81 games, showing 326 yellow cards and 24 red ones ( 4 and 0,3 a game)
First assistant will be Sten Klaasen and second one Maikel Mikson.
Fourth official following the game from the touchline will be Hannes Reinvald.
Penalty boxes officials will be implemented for this game with the help of Eiko Saar (5th) and Juri Frischer (6th)
INFORMATION ABOUT THE GAME
The first seasonal Estonian 'Clasico' will be held in the tiny Sportland Arena.
In the Supercup the crowd was made of 573 people according to official numbers. With game played at 4pm, a longer daylight and possibly good weather (7'C and cloudy the weather forecast for Saturday) the attendance might slightly grow to over 600.
The game will be shown by ETV and streamed here.
Kick-off at 4pm.
Kids 7 years and younger, free entrance
Kids between 8 and 18 2€
Discounts for participating to the Facebook event 2,5€ ('Going' must be ticked at least 2h before the kick-off)
Data from Transfermarkt