Angelo Palmeri: 5 things we learned from week 14
FC Flora leadership lasted just two weeks as it sufficed for Kalju to win yesterday’s derby (2-0) to topple its rivals and regain control. Levadia keeps observing from distance by getting rid of Viljandi Tulevik from set pieces (2-0) this week. However, shocking results for the remaining top teams: Sillamäe conceded the first away point to Pärnu Linnameeskond (0-0) and Paide Linnameeskond got their second win in a row, away to FC Infonet (3-2), while Tammeka crumbles under pressure from Narva Trans (0-6).
Flora fails to deliver in a direct clash
It took two minutes for Kalju to get rid of Flora thanks to Ats Purje and Tarmo Neemelo bagging their third and fourth goals in Premium Liiga. However, we do not know how long will it take for coach Norbert Hurt to find the key to solve the rebus of the direct clashes. Out of four this season, he has lost three (two to Kalju and one to Levadia) and drew one (Levadia). Pushed forward by Kalju’s terrible streak of three losses (from week 10 to week 12), Flora had a chance to dig the distance from the rivals, but failed. "I am not worried about that," Hurt said in the aftermath of a defeat, when commenting on the poor tally in confrontations with the city rivals. Fans do not share the same view.
Shock in Lasnamäe
It has been barely a month since FC Infonet started playing in the renovated Lasnamäe Athletics Complex pitch. However, they already have to accept one defeat. After getting past Pärnu LM (2-0) and Nõmme Kalju (1-0), Aleksandr Pushtov's side fell under the most unlikely of the opponents: Paide Linnameeskond.
Revived by their dignified performance in the Estonian Cup final (they lost 2-0 to Nõmme Kalju), Paide LM seem to have taken the destiny in their hands and have more belief in their means. In what would have seemed a no-go game and with their topscorer Vjatseslav Zahovaiko suspended, the Hearts of Estonia gave battle to FC Infonet and brought home the second win of the season in a row. The last game before the June break against FC Levadia also looks like "mission impossible". However, it seems the lads have regained self-confidence. Meanwhile, FC Infonet will travel to Tartu and face the league’s worst defense. No more surprises are allowed.
Tammeka, where art thou?
Speaking of the devil, does anyone know what happened to one of the most likeable team in Estonia?
The proud representatives in top-flight football of the country’s second biggest city seem to have lost the plot. In a year that saw the basketball club back to glory (the national title was missing since 2010 for Tartu Rock), the Tamme Stadium club fails to match up and make football as popular. The huge effort in marketing and PR terms is not matched by the results on the pitch. Tammeka’s defense is the worst of the league (45 goals suffered, 3,21 per game) and the Blues are in good company with Viljandi Tulevik and Pärnu LM (newly promoted!) in having suffered tennis scores so far: 6-0 away to Narva Trans on Tuesday and the famous 7-0 away to Flora last week. Compared to last season when they lacked proper preparation, they've collected just one point more. Something needs to be fixed in the whole approach and the upcoming break will hopefully help. However, first, the third best home audience in Premium Liiga (behind Flora and Kalju) should be given some joy in the game against FC Infonet.
A few weeks ago we talked about how a change of coach might sometimes benefit a team. The theory does not apply to Sillamäe, at least for now. On the back of the 2-0 loss against Levadia, chairman Aleksandr Starodubtsev decided to sack Sergei Frantsev and entrust the team to a 39-year-old Russian coach Deniss Ugarov (former player of Zenit St.Petersburg). The backlash was a goalless draw with Pärnu Linnameeskond - so far they had not collected a single away point. "This was a shock news for us," captain Andrei Sidorenkov said in the aftermath of the game, hinting at the team having not yet absorbed the change. At the same time, he revealed that Ugarov brought a lot of innovations to the training system and on the pitch. Whether the new gaffer will succeed where Frantsev failed during the current season, it is too early to say. However, it is worth to mention the previous coach’s records in order to envisage what his younger successor will have to live up to. Frantsev collected 25 wins, 2 draws and 10 losses during 37 games, delivering an average of 2.08 points per game (data by Transfermarkt.de). His great feats achieved in 2014 were: bringing Sillamäe onto the next Europa League preliminary (first time in club’s history) and grasping the silver medal at the expenses of Flora. Good luck Deniss.
Nõmme Kalju back on track
After a crazy streak of three losses in a row, following the amazing start (9 wins in a row), Sergei Terehhov’s side seem to have once again steered the boat towards safer seas. May was an helter-skelter for Lindpere & Co. However, they did at the same time manage to bring home the club’s first Estonian Cup trophy of its history, securing a prize of 200,000 euros and a place in the upcoming Europa League preliminaries (July).
In Premium Liiga, a safe win in Pärnu (3-0) was followed by a second slap to Flora’s ambitions for this season. The last effort in Hiiu Stadium against Sillamäe Kalev will be needed to go to break safely on top. As usual, July will be a key month for Kalju’s bid for the title and its European dreams.
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