Mumbai City FC Thrashed by Delhi Dynamos FC

It almost seems like every day a team at the foot of table is playing. This actually shows the competitiveness of the Indian Super League because teams at the foot of the table are constantly winning and moving up the table. FC Goa did it, Delhi Dynamos FC did it, Northeast United FC did it, and now its Delhi’s chance to do it again.

Freddie Ljungberg Starts!

One win for Delhi Dynamos FC will take them to the 6th spot, while Mumbai City FC can go 5th. 5th for Delhi Dynamos FC and 4th for Mumbai City is a real possibility too. Both teams made huge changes to their starting line-ups as was expected before the match but the biggest change still comes from Mumbai City.

Freddie Ljungberg has received his first start for his team and would look to show what he’s capable of. He’s been more or less poor in this league till now mainly because of injuries. He has to make up for the absences of Nicolas Anelka and Andre Moritz both.

Delhi Dynamos FC again started without Alessandro Del Pierro. He, reportedly, has come down with something. In any case, Delhi Dynamos FC should’ve gotten used to his absence by now.

Delhi Dynamos FC & Mumbai City FC Serve up a Very Poor First Half

Hans Mulder, Delhi Dynamos FC

Hans Mulder, Delhi Dynamos FC

Delhi Dynamos FC started the game much better than Mumbai City FC with Gustavo Marmentini Dos Santos especially doing well.

Delhi even managed to get a goal line clearance from the Mumbai City right back. While Delhi did play well, they were dominating mainly because Mumbai City weren’t playing that well.

There was a strange sluggishness to Mumbai’s game play and their players looked a little disinterested in pressing. Ljungberg was especially culpable of this. Without pressing, Delhi Dynamos could stroke the ball around and get off great balls.

Delhi Dynamos FC Score Right at the End

Hans Mulder, Delhi Dynamos FC

The Real Hans Mulder

Mumbai City did claw their way back into the game during the middle of the half but they couldn’t really do anything with it. Just before half time, Delhi Dynamos FC attacked from their right flank with a cross.

Mumbai City’s defenders failed to clear it and Hans Mulder* put his foot through the ball and into the net. A great finish that one. Delhi Dynamos FC 1 – 0 Mumbai City FC.

Barring that one goal just before the half time and the last couple of minutes, the whole half was quite dead and boring. There is one clear sign for me that a game of football is bad. You know the game is going badly if you see both the teams playing head tennis with the football. There were at least 3 of those in this half.

This was two bad teams playing badly. I’m sorry but the first half was so bad that I’d rather have watched my nails grow or even my grandmother knitting me a sweater. No wonder, Delhi Dynamos’ stadium is empty all the time.

A More Encouraging Opening to the Second Half

Mads Junker, Delhi Dynamos FC

Mads Junker, Delhi Dynamos FC

Within 5 minutes of the second half, Delhi Dynamos FC stretched their lead further.

Dos Santos provided smart pass to Mads Junker who was making a run between Mumbai City’s defenders into the box. Junker took it on and passed the ball into the net. Delhi Dynamos FC 2 – 0 Mumbai City FC.

As you can tell from the goal, the second half was a little more creative especially from Delhi Dynamos who created many more chances. Delhi further turned on the style with a third goal. This time it was Dos Santos. Dos Santos started the move by sending the ball into the right flank to Francis Fernandes and continued his run into the box.

Delhi Dynamos FC Score Another

Gustavo Marmentini Dos Santos, Delhi Dynamos FC

Gustavo Marmentini Dos Santos, Delhi Dynamos FC

Francis Fernandes dropped in a wonderful cross right on his head. With the pace on the ball, all that Dos Santos had to do was guide the ball and he did that to perfection.

That was a header into the top right corner provided effortlessly. Game over and league over for Mumbai City. Delhi Dynamos FC 3 – 0 Mumbai City FC.

That goal took Delhi Dynamos FC to the 5th spot in the league and over Northeast United FC. In case you’re wondering what happened to Ljungberg, Peter Reid took him off in the halftime period along with Lalrindika Ralte to bring on Nadong Bhutia and Francisco Javier Fernandez Luque.

Mumbai City FC Get A Consolation Goal

Abhishek Yadav, Mumbai City FC

Abhishek Yadav, Mumbai City FC

Deep into the second half I think Delhi Dynamos FC got complacent and lazy because Mumbai City FC seemed to grow in stature.

They were more attacking, more motivated, and simply looked more likely to score.

In fact, they did get one consolation goal from Abhishek Yadav. The cross came in from the left and found Yadav who finished very well.

It wasn’t an easy chance but Yadav pulled it off with aplomb! Delhi Dynamos FC 3 – 1 Mumbai City FC.

Delhi Dynamos FC Wake Up and Put the Game beyond Mumbai City FC

Manish Bhargav, Delhi Dynamos FC

Manish Bhargav, Delhi Dynamos FC

Because of that goal, Delhi lost their 5th position in the table and dropped back to 6th. However, they made made up for it with another goal.

The cross came in from the touchline from Dias, Subrata Paul got a hand on it. The ball fell to another Delhi player and he saved again before Manish Bhargav put it into the net. Delhi Dynamos FC 4 – 1 Mumbai City FC.

It was a poor game from Mumbai City and on the evidence of their current points tally and performance, you might say that they should give up on the qualification spots but you shouldn’t. The reason is that they’re now only 3 points off Kerala Blasters FC in the 4th spot.

The problem for Mumbai City will be their goals scored and conceded tally. Their GD right now is -8 and they’ve only scored 9 goals. They still have 3 games left. If they win them all then they may still make it into the 4th position.

In any case, a match that was so dull in the first half turned into a goal fest in the second. The quality of football was still a little below the standards of other games in the ISL but we did get goals, so that keeps the newer fans happy.

*A cross between the guy from X files and the guy from Star Wars.



Can Delhi Dynamos FC Continue Their Revival?

Delhi Dynamos FC will take on Mumbai City FC today evening. They would both be heartened by the way Northeast United FC shot up the table yesterday with a single great performance that gave them a comprehensive win over Chennaiyin FC. For both, these teams, a similar rise is also possible.

A Dearth of Goals for Delhi Dynamos FC and Mumbai City FC

Delhi Dynamos FC vs. Mumbai City FC

Delhi Dynamos FC vs. Mumbai City FC

Delhi Dynamos FC can claim the 6th or 5th position with a win. Which position they claim depends on the margin of their win. They’ll need to win by a minimum margin of 3 goals to go above Northeast United FC.

Mumbai City FC, on the other hand, can definitely claim the 5th position in the league and have a shot at the 4th position. In order to go 4th in the Indian Super League table, Mumbai City FC will have to win by 3 or more than 3 goals.

Neither of the teams is prolific in the attacking department so it’s hard to see them winning by 3 goals. In fact, in terms of goals scored, Mumbai City FC is tied with Kerala Blasters FC at the foot of the table while Delhi Dynamos FC is the second worst team tied with FC Pune City.

Mumbai City FC has actually not scored a single goal in the last 4 games. It’ll be even more difficult for them today because they can neither field Nicolas Anelka nor Andre Moritz, both of whom are injured, as per their manager. They may have Freddie Ljungberg playing, though, which should soften the blow a little.

Still, Ljungberg, as much as I love the man, hasn’t really lit up the league with his skill. At his peak, he was one of the best off the ball runners I have ever seen. With age, I doubt he’ll be doing a lot of running which means that he needs support in the striking and creative departments both. Mumbai City FC can’t provide either in this match with the absence of their other 2 cream attackers.

Peter Reid’s Curve Ball

The Mumbai City FC head coach, Peter Reid, seems to understand the predicament his team find themselves in. He categorically mentioned the absence of Anelka and Moritz as something that could be a problem.

The strategy he specified in his pre-match press conference is strange, if you ask me. Read for yourself:

Scoring goals has been a problem. I have to change the objective of the team. If tomorrow night we go one down, I will change the game because we need points. However, it will be difficult for us because we are missing Anelka and Moritz who arguably are the best attacking players we have. So it is now up to somebody else to take the chance and that’s what we will be looking to do.

Peter Reid, Mumbai City FC

Peter Reid, Mumbai City FC

I, honestly, don’t understand this. You know you need a win, why don’t you go attack straight away? I mean I get that it’s an away game but you still need the points.

Be brave and go for it. Moreover, your loss to Chennaiyin FC should’ve shown you that you can be beaten defensively too.

Didn’t you learn anything from the way Delhi Dynamos FC played against Northeast United FC and Northeast United FC, themselves, played against Chennaiyin FC?

Still, what do I know, my last two predictions of struggling teams fell flat on their face and he is after all a manager of pedigree. Strong opinions aside, it’ll be interesting to watch Peter Reid’s strategy.

Tactical Surprises to Continue From Harm Van Veldhoven?

Harm Van Veldhoven, Delhi Dynamos FC

Harm Van Veldhoven, Delhi Dynamos FC

Delhi Dynamos FC head coach, Harm Van Veldhoven, was behind their surprise win last time out against Northeast United FC.

He changed the tactics and personnel on the pitch to draw out goals and a better performance out of them. Journalists at his pre-game press conference expected more of the same. He responded:

Every game is different. It is important to make combinations and to score goals. We had tried out some new things with Gustavo dos Santos and Francis Fernandes, which worked well when we were away, but we have to see if it can work in every game.

Don’t expect him to follow the same strategy, though, because he followed this quote with another gem saying:

However, we cannot play with the same players all the time. We also have to analyse the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and choose the team accordingly for that particular game. Maybe we play in the same organisation but with different players.

All this goes to say that you can’t predict what Van Veldhoven will do with his team to face Mumbai City FC. I do want Alessandro Del Pierro to have a role to play in this game because he, like Freddie Ljungberg, hasn’t really done a lot in this league. If he plays, maybe we’ll get to see one of his trademark long range curling shots.



Northeast United FC Blitzkrieg Chennaiyin FC

Ricki Herbert warned Chennaiyin FC

Ricki Herbert warned Chennaiyin FC

Just look at the Indian Super League table and you’ll see that today’s match was the David vs. Goliath match of the fledgling ISL.

Chennaiyin FC the league leaders and the in-form team of the moment take on Northeast United FC, the team at the foot of the table.

Before the match, Head Coach of Northeast United FC, Ricki Herbert, promised that his side will have a go at Chennaiyin FC. He seemed to have followed through on his promise as there were 4 changes to Northeast United’s starting line-up.

In came Boithang Haokip, Guilherme Felipe de Castro, Massamba Lo Sambou, and Durga Boro for Aiborlang Khongjee, Robin Gurung, Do Dong Hyun, and Isaac Chansa. Marco Materazzi decided to rest Bojan Djordjic and Mikael Silvestre and replaced them with Jean Eudes Maurice and Jairo Andres Suarez Carvajal.

Northeast United FC Open Scoring Quickly

Durga Boro, Northeast United FC

Durga Boro, Northeast United FC

Not surprisingly, Northeast United did start in a more attacking manner and put Chennaiyin FC on the back foot who decided to focus on counterattacking.

They were camped in Chennaiyin FC’s box and you could see that they had a do or die attitude about the game. They had nothing to lose and they were playing like it. Their brilliant attacking play yielded results soon enough.

The goal was scored in the 10th minute and was a result of a lucky ricochet of the ball. However, it’s not like Northeast United didn’t deserve it because they did.

The cross came in Djemba-Djemba headed it out but it hit the back of the head of another Northeast United FC. The ball dropped fortuitously to Durga who put it beyond the onrushing keeper into the bottom corner. Chennaiyin FC players looked shell-shocked. Northeast United FC 1 – 0 Chennaiyin FC.

Chennaiyin FC Rattled By the 2nd Goal

Massamba Lo Sambou, Northeast United FC

Massamba Lo Sambou, Northeast United FC

Northeast United FC upped the ante even further after another 10 minutes and scored their 2nd goal of the game.

After camping firmly in the Chennaiyin FC box and throwing balls in left, right, and centre, they finally struck gold with a cross from the left flank.

The ball came in from a freekick and it was a good one. Massamba rose and put the ball in the far corner. A Chennaiyin FC defender tried to clear the ball but could only put it into the roof of the net. Chennaiyin FC players were rattled. Northeast United FC 2 – 0 Chennaiyin FC.

Northeast United FC All but Insure Their 3 Points

Four minutes later, in the 23rd minute, Massamba struck again. The freekick again came in from the left side and found Massamba’s towering head. He powered one devastating header into the far side of the net. Chennaiyin FC heads were dropping. Northeast United FC 3 – 0 Chennaiyin FC.

Chennaiyin FC were slow, sluggish, and aimless till the 35th minute. It’s only about that time that they started realising that more than half the match is left. They did pick up their game a little then. Still, they couldn’t really do anything useful and kept undoing their work by giving the ball away.

Twice, Northeast United FC’s striker got free with only the keeper to beat. The 1st time, the keeper saved well and the 2nd time Bernard Mendy deflected the shot. The rest of the half petered out.

A Toothless Display from Chennaiyin FC in the Second Half

Joan Capdevila, Northeast United FC

Joan Capdevila, Northeast United FC

Chennaiyin FC seemed calmer in the second half and even had the ball in the net via Cristian Hindalgo Gonzalez.

Unfortunately, he was in an offside position and the goal didn’t count. If the first half was thrilling and full of action, the second half was a drab affair.

Marco Materazzi tried to change the complexion of the game with substitutions but the people he brought on couldn’t do much. The game was mired in midfield and everything was interrupted which is probably what Northeast United FC wanted in the first place.

Things did look up for Chennaiyin FC when the referee gave Joan Capdevila his second yellow card. The first yellow card came in the first half when he deliberately handled the ball. This one came when he raised his hand to Maurice’s face. Both were unnecessary and not the kind of thing you expect from someone who has as much experience as he does.

The sad bit is that Chennaiyin FC couldn’t really take advantage of their one man advantage. They looked utterly, completely, entirely, hopelessly toothless in the game. While their qualification for the knockout stage isn’t really in question for me, if they want to win the semis and the final then they’ll need to somehow get Elano back.

It’s not the end of the world for Chennaiyin FC from any perspective though. In hindsight, I think Materazzi understands that his team is lacking many key players. This is probably why his comments were so sober and measured in his pregame press conference.

Another Bottom Team Proves Everyone Wrong

From the Northeast United FC angle, I believe this is what you call the “commentator’s curse”? This is the second time I’ve been proven wrong by a team at the bottom of the table after I said that they’re finished. The last was Delhi Dynamos FC.

To be fair, no one could’ve predicted what Northeast United FC would do. They literally pulled the German blitzkrieg on Chennaiyin FC. I say literally because the German blitzkrieg was all about aerial firepower and that’s what Northeast United FC’s win was based on.