After an inauspicious start to the season, Levadia Tallinn will be looking to kick start their campaign on Friday as they face an FC Infonet side full of confidence. Following their opening day defeat to Paide, Levadia have managed two wins and three draws in their last five games, and find themselves in fifth place, five points off top spot.
Infonet’s four wins from their opening six matches, including a dramatic 3-2 defeat of Flora, have put them in the lofty heights of second place in the table, a point behind early pace-setters Sillamae.
Focus on LEVADIA
Levadia’s opening day defeat to Paide has been put behind them somewhat, as they have managed to go five matches unbeaten, with two wins and three draws. Two of those draws have come in their last two games, however, so talk of a full recovery would be a little premature.
Four of Levadia’s matches so far have been at home, and five points from those games is not form they will want to continue in their pursuit of defending last season’s Premium Liiga title.
Artur Rättel has been Levadia’s most productive player in front of goal, bagging four in six matches, but has drawn a blank in his last two (against Kalju and Flora) following his brace against Tammeka on Matchday 4.
Levadia made just one chance last time out, with Igor Subbotin starting the Flora match in place of Marin, and they may be forced into a change this time out as Artur Pikk has been suffering from the knock he picked up in challenge with Flora’s Markus Jürgenson. However, he is showing good signs and could be available for tonight. In general, Levadia have plenty at their disposal, giving confidence to Indrek Petersoo, Levadia press officer: “The feeling in the squad is positive and the lads are ready for a tough battle.”
Dragomir Vukabratovic is one booking away from a suspension, having picked up three yellow cards already this season, so his approach in the centre of the field may be more controlled than normal.
Key Man: Vukobratovic
Once again, Vukobratovic will be Levadia’s key man. His dual role in attack and defence, coupled with him having one eye on his disciplinary record so far, surely makes him one to watch. Infonet, despite their impressive start, have been a little inconsistent in their ability to control a game. Levadia should look to dominate play and their ball retention will be of paramount importance. Infonet will look to counter quickly so it will be important not to give the ball away in dangerous areas. Vukobratovic will be at the heart of both of these focal points and his midfield performance could be the difference.
Focus on FC INFONET
Infonet have made a solid start to the season, losing just one match in six and currently occupying 2nd place in the table.
Technically, they have ‘won’ two out of three away games, their only defeat of the season coming in their trip to Sillamäe. However, one of those two wins came courtesy of Kalju falling foul of the rules on Matchday 1, with Kalju’s 1-0 win taken away from them and the points handed to Infonet, and the other win played on their own ground in the derby against Flora, so their position could be considered a little misleading.
Infonet have scored the least amount of goals of the top five teams in the league, having scored ten in their six matches so far, and have, at times, struggled for creativity in the final third.
Trevor Elhi is Infonet's recordman as he has played all the 42 games FC Infonet have been competing since they were promoted last season (36 + 6). He has played all the 90' of each game meaning 3,780 minutes in a row. He accounts for 63 appearances in Premium Liiga (21 earned at Levadia).
Infonet are injury-free going into the match, with their only concern being the risk of suspension for Alexander Semakhin, who has three yellow cards to his name so far this season. However, the defender shall sit on the bench with Kalimullin and Avilov being given a start.
Key man: Konstantin Nahk
Nahk has been a calm and effective presence in Infonet’s midfield so far this season. His crisp, tidy passing gives his side a bit of stability alongside his anticipation in the tackle. These two assets will be essential to Infonet’s game as they will need to be effective when they have the ball. Nahk will keep his side ticking over while looking for that killer pass to set the marauding pair of Manucho and Aidara free on goal on the break.
Levadia are likely to make as few alterations as possible, having generally stuck with the same team that scored 10 goals in two games against Tammeka and whipping boys Kalev, prior to their two recent draws. Should Pikk not make the match, Aleksandr Kulinitš may be his replacement as he was during the Flora game. 4-4-2 is likely to remain the order of the day with the aforementioned Rättel hovering around Ingemar Teever up front, and Omar Al Hussieny taking up position on the left flank, with last matchday’s goal-scorer Subbotin on the right.
Infonet's strikers Manucho and Aidara have been accommodated in what is usually an adaptable formation; two wide men have often been asked to help out in both attack and defence. Counter attacking football has been an important part of Infonet’s game so far this season, with the use of defending midfielders helping to break opposition attacks up before looking to set their side’s strikers loose. Jevgeni Harin and Nikita Martõnov have shared the role of third attacker, with Eduard Golovljov proving a valuable asset stepping off the bench.
More odds at Optibet here
The referees squad
Extra work this weekend for Kristo Tohver. In fact, apart from officiating this game on Friday evening, he will be the box assistant in tomorrow's Flora vs. Narva Trans at A.LeCoq Arena.
The last time we saw him was two weeks ago in the goalless Kalju-Levadia derby draw, when he let Śiśov go unpunished after the right full-back made El-Hussieny taste his studs.
The Estonian international referee has been refereeing in the Premium Liiga since 2001, overseeing 264 matches altogether. He has shown the yellow card 701 times, which equates to 3,6 times a game (38 red cards, a 0,14 per game average).
He has already officiated 4 times this season, twice in Levadia matches (one win and one draw) and twice in FC Infonet matches (two draws). He has already shown 10 yellow cards and 1 red.
LEVADIA VS. FC INFONET HEAD TO HEAD
Clashes in Premium Liiga: 4
Levadia's wins: 4
FC Infonet's wins: 0
Goals scored by Levadia: 9
Goals scored by FC Infonet: 1
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Levadia's rows: Ingemar Teever (CF) 116 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Infonet's rows: Konstantin Nahk (DMF) 151 goals
Information about the game
Entrance fee for last Sportland Arena game for Levadia is 5€. On the 26th of April the greens will move back to Kadriorg for the game against Narva Trans.
Kids from 8 to 18 get in for half the price. U-8's in for free.
If you click 'Going' in the Facebook event here, you can get in for 2,5€ (participation no later than 2h before the game).
If not in Tallinn, game will be streamed here (link available few minutes before kick-off at 19:00 EEST tonight).