Levadia Tallinn’s season has taken a blow this week, firstly with the departure of striker Buinickij to Iceland, then with the news of Aleksei Jahhimovits’ involvement in the ongoing match-fixing scandal.
Their recent form had seen them rise to second in the table, but last weekend’s disappointing draw at Narva Trans saw them drop to fourth place, in what is fast becoming a close-knit group at the top of the table.
Lokomotiv Johvi are in an even worse predicament, sitting bottom of the table with just one point from their ten matches. Last week’s defeat by Paide was their third in a row, and, despite the possible vulnerability of their opposition, anything but another defeat here is beyond expectations.
Focus on LEVADIA (4/10, 19pts)
Jahhimovits has since had his contract terminated by Levadia for his part in the scandal. His place in the team is likely to be taken by Olexandr Volchkov.
Last week’s match saw Levadia rotate their squad a little, with Antonov and Ivanov starting in place of Elhussieny and Raudsepp. The latter pair are likely to return here as Levadia will stick with 4-4-2 and go for the jugular. Ingemar Teever should keep his place alongside Rattel in place of the departed Buinickij.
Vukobratovic remains a yellow card away from suspension, as does Ivanov.
Key man: Artur Rattel
Rattel will need to pick up more of the slack now that Buinickij has left. His partnership with Teever will be key to Levadia keeping themselves going through a difficult time, and Rattel will need to return to goalscoring form as soon as possible. His team performances of late, however, have been excellent, and he will need to at least keep that going.
Focus on LOKOMOTIV JÕHVI (10/10, 1pt)
Lokomotiv have the weakest attack in the league, having scored just four goals in their ten matches. Their 26 goals conceded is the best of the bottom three, but the points column says everything about their plight.
Recently-appointed coach Tikhorimov is unlikely to change much, with the league favourite 4-2-3-1 formation likely to be deployed. Lokomotiv have no injury worries, and are likely to line up with Jogi as the lone striker, supported by three from Jakovlev, Kaivoja, Naveriani and Kutuzov. Their defence will need to learn how to act as a tight-knit unit quickly, as their tendency to break position has been one of their Achilles heels.
Mboungou is one booking away from suspension.
Key man: Valeri Smelkov/Aleksei Matrossov
Every single one of Johvi’s players will need to be at the top of their game, and whichever goalkeeper is chosen is likely to have to perform some heroics between the sticks. He will need his defence to keep their shape, but will be aware of the responsibility on his shoulders.
Levadia have strength across their attack, and most of the match should be played in the Johvi half. Hitting Levadia on the counter attack or from set pieces are Johvi’s best hopes, as they will have to set most of their focus on keeping Levadia out.
Lokomotiv’s defensive midfield partnership need to be at their best to protect their defence. Damage limitation is likely to be the name of the game for them and this extra line of protection might not be enough to keep Levadia out.
LEVADIA VS. LOKOMOTIV HEAD TO HEAD
Clashes in Premium Liiga: 1
Lokomotiv's wins: 0
Levadia’s wins: 1
Goals scored by Levadia: 3
Goals scored by Lokomotiv: 0
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Levadia’s rows: Ingemar Teever (CF) 117 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Lokomotiv's rows: Maksim Bazjukin (RMF) 36 goals
ODDS (the figures may be subject to variation)
More odds about this game here by
THE REFEREES SQUAD
(statistics courtesy of Heigo Niilop)
Andrei Karhu will debut in Premium Liiga after a career spent in Esiliiga (second tier) and in the lower leagues. His first assistant will be Martin Lember and the second one Lauri Salei.
Quite curiously, Karhu and Lember were the referee and the first assistant of the World popular game Vändra Vaprus vs. FC Puuma where the Puuma Lithuanian goalkeeper arbitrarily left the pitch.
INFO ABOUT THE GAME
Second home game at Kadriorg Park Stadium for Levadia.
Kick-off tonight Friday the 9th of May, at 19:00 EEST. The game will be streamed by ERR Sport, link available here few minutes before the game.
Entrance fee is 5€.
Kids from 8 to 18 get in for 2€. 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).