Levadia Tallinn will hope that this weekend’s return to Kadriorg Stadium will help them increase their unbeaten run, which now stands at seven games following their 4-0 win at Johvi last weekend.
Their opponents, Narva Trans, have very different concerns after a week full of comment following their 1-1 draw with Infonet. Narva boss Valeri Bondarenko criticised referee Roomer Tarajev, saying: “'I don't want to see this referee anymore and to be honest, there's no space for him in football”, following the ref’s dismissal of Narva’s Pavel Avdeev. The draw saw Narva’s winless run stretch to four matches, with the club hovering dangerously round the foot of the table.
Levadia have the second leanest defence in the league, having conceded just four goals so far (only Kalju can better that with 2) and Narva have managed to score just eight in their match so far. This might suggest an easy ride for the 2013 champions; however, Narva are the draw specialists (four out of seven matches drawn) and have only conceded as many as they have scored, leaving them with a level goal difference.
Focus on LEVADIA
Levadia made six changes for the Johvi match in order to rotate their squad a little, but it is expected that some of those players will return here. Kristal has suggested that he is likely to bring back Vukobratovic, despite him being one yellow card away from a suspension, and Antonov in place of Raudsepp and Kaljumae in the centre of midfield. Podholjuzin, Artjunin, Elhussieny and Buinickij will also be vying to win their places back in a match that is sure to be more of a challenge than their previous one.
Kristal said in midweek that Levadia have been training on real grass for a week now and that the feeling in the squad is good. His concern lies in the fact that they must revert back to the artificial turf in midweek for the cup game, and then again in May for their trip to Infonet, although these concerns will be more prominent after the match on Saturday.
Key Man: Igor Subbotin
With Artur Rattel losing his goalscoring touch, Igor Subbotin has stepped up with four goals in his last three games. He will be looking to continue his good form here and contribute at the sharp end. If Rattel starts to find the net, the pair could be a formidable partnership in the coming weeks.
Focus on NARVA TRANS
Despite his manager’s strong words of injustice, Pavel Avdeev will sit out this match through suspension, along with Andrejev, who picked up his fourth yellow card in last week’s controversial draw with Infonet. Tanel Tamberg may return in defence.
Their formation is unlikely to change, with Viktor Plotnikov, Sergejs Mishins, and Vladislav Fjodorov, forming an attacking midfield threesome behind the lone striker.
Key Man: Sergejs Mishins
Narva need their attackers on form in order to penetrate the Levadia defence, and Sergejs Mishins can be their main outlet on the right-wing. Mishins has yet to score this season but his ability to provide for others is what Narva need from him.
Flora vs. Narva Trans
FLORA VS. NARVA TRANS HEAD TO HEAD
Clashes in Premium Liiga: 60
Levadia's wins: 36
Trans’ wins: 7
Goals scored by Levadia: 129
Goals scored by Trans: 53
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Levadia's rows: Ingemar Teever (CF) 117 goals
Most prolific Premium Liiga scorer(s) in Trans’ rows: Stanislav Kitto (CB) 55 goals
After trying 4-4-2, Bondarenko went back to 4-2-3-1 without too many regrets, as the squad seems unprepared to learn a new system. Visiting Kristal's Levadia might represent a kind of exam on the subject as the 40-year-old coach rarely changes his formation. Plotnikov and Miśins will have to duly follow their defensive tasks if they don't want to leave El-Hussieny and Subbotin to roam freely behind them. With half of the defence sidelined by suspension, it will be hard for Narva Trans to implement the rock-solid resistance seen in the past weeks (Flora and Infonet).
More odds about this game here by
THE REFEREES SQUAD
(statistics courtesy of Heigo Niilop)
With Narva Trans lagging behind in the drop zone, this clash has lost the original flair of a title-fight challenge.
The top Estonian internatiol referee, Hannes Kaasik, will bring back the original taste having directed this game 10 times: 6 wins for Levadia, 2 for Trans and 2 draws.
Kaasik has shown the yellow card 691 times during his 236 games (2,92). 24 of those were shown in a Levadia-Trans confrontation (14 to Trans and 10 to Levadia).
He pulled a second yellow from his pocket 27 times whereas he resorted to the straight red 24 times.
In the Levadia-Trans confrontation he showed a straight red to Kurotśkin (04.11.2001, Narva Trans vs. Levadia Maardu 1-2) and second booking to Gruznov (22.05.2003, Narva Trans vs. Levadia Maardu 1-0).
Only two penalties assigned: one was transformed (Narva's Dubõkin pulled level in the 1-1 draw on the 5th of November 2006) and one was missed (Levadia's Koliaev on the 16th of March 2013 when Levadia won 3-0).
Two games ended with no card under his direction:
19.03.2003 - Levadia Maardu vs. Narva Trans 1-0
05.11.2006 - Levadia Tallinn vs. Narva Trans 1-1
Under Kaasik direction, Levadia have a 4-win streak in the last four games against the border-city club.
Kaasik will be assisted by Neeme Neemlaid and Rando Kesküla on the touchlines, whereas Ainar Kuusk will surpervise the technical area.
INFO ABOUT THE GAME
Kadriorg debut for the 2013 Champions who played the last time in the old venue on the 3rd of November 2013 beating 1-0 Paide Linnameeskond with a goal by Andreas Raudsepp.
Entrance fee is 5€.
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 by Postimees.ee here (link available few minutes before kick-off at 19:00 EEST tonight).