FC Pune City vs. Delhi Dynamos FC Preview

FC Pune City vs. Delhi Dynamos FCWell folks, I get a chance to do a preview today. I don’t only have a chance but, “by golly, I’m actually gonna do it! Goes to show, what a single email from a reader can do.

In any case, let’s get onto the review. This one’s for the match between FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos FC, as if you didn’t know that (a forehead slapping moment that). Yesterday, fate gave Kerala Blasters FC to prove me wrong in my early season prediction but they were found wanting. A good deal of the season is left, so they’ll have more of a chance.

FC Pune City to Win!

Today, it’s the turn of Delhi Dynamos FC to prove me wrong. They’ve won one and lost one. Their win against Chennaiyin FC was scrappy and not all that flattering to say the least. They can really underscore their presence in the Indian Super League 2015 season with a win today. It would take them to the third spot on the table you see.

On the other side, FC Pune City have a chance to go top which I think they will. This is also a game in which I have a feeling that they’ll truly let lose their attacking football.

I like how FC Pune City plays too in comparison to Delhi Dynamos FC’s game. Delhi Dynamos FC, forgive me citymates, play like a team in dire straits. FC Pune City’s game is all about possession and that kind of game I really, really like. For this reason, I predict a win for FC Pune City by two goals to none!

I’m keeping this preview short and sweet. In my defence, at least, I got here.

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Atletico Kolkata vs. Kerala Blasters Review: ATK Play 80 Minutes KBFC Play 10

Atletico Kolkata vs. Kerala Blasters FC

Well, what do you know? I predicted a poor season for Kerala Blaster FC and they’re well and truly proving me wrong. When the predictions go wrong, I’ll be the first person to raise my hand and eat the humble pie, so hold on to your horses, Sir Shadowfax.

In case you don’t know how I was wrong, Kerala Blasters are sitting pretty in second position in the Indian Super League 2015. However, I will remind you that Kerala Blasters have only played the minnows Northeast United FC and Mumbai City FC who are still to find their feet. This will be their first true test against the reigning champions.

No one’s surprised that Atletico Kolkata are third in the league and I expect them to go top of the heap after a win this game. Why am I predicting an Atletico Kolkata win? Well, you can thank Sidwillrockyou who asked me to do that. I am pretty sure that he didn’t mean a prediction in the match report itself but hey, I don’t have time for previews this season so there it is. I predict Atletico Kolkata to win by 3 – 1.

Team News for Atletico De Kolkata & Kerala Blasters FC

PeleIn terms of why I picked Atletico Kolkata for the win is simply that I liked their team over Kerala Blaster’s team.

There seemed to be more stability, strength, and power in Atletico Kolkata’s team. More importantly, they also had the home advantage. There were lots of changes from Kerala Blasters FC with Peter Taylor playing both Sanchez Watt and Chris Dagnall.

That’s a dangerous combo.

Kerala Blasters back three also looked good in the form of the tall Indian Gurwinder Singh, Bruno Perone, and Peter Ramage. I expect their wingbacks would bomb down the flanks and give Habas the Henchman a good headache.

Atletico Kolkata’s team, on the other hand, looked tacked on as opposed to settled. Not only did they change their defenders but also their keeper. Defenders need a run of games together to build an understanding. Now, I’m not saying that the Salt Lake stadium will be like the Leaky Cauldron (although it will be a cauldron with Pele in the house). I’m just saying that I expect a sense of panic and a certain lack of stability in Atletico Kolkata’s defence.

Let’s hope Atletico Kolkata don’t make me look like a chump in front of our dear reader Siddharth.

Atletico Kolkata Take the Lead

Atletico Kolkata - Arata Izumi

Credit: Ron Gaunt / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

First half began with both teams exchanging feints and potential threats but the first real chance fell to Atletico Kolkata through a cracking long shot.

The shot was excellent. It swerved, curled, and smacked against the cross bar. The shot was taken by Javier Lara Grande.

It wouldn’t matter though because Atletico Kolkata would take the lead in the following minute.

The move started with a long ball to Iain Hume, who was running the channel between the full back and the centre back.

His first touch was like that gourmet chocolate cake that I always dream off every day – smooth and capable of melting hardest of spirits. It allowed him to cut in and with the defender turned he unleashed a left footed snapshot. Stephen Bywater, however, saved it but the ball rebounded to Arata Izumi who continued his good form and whipped the ball into the net on the stroke of 6 minutes. Atletico Kolkata 1 – 0 Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala Blasters FC Keep Getting Pummelled

Kerala Blasters - Flat BeerKerala Blasters got a chance to level the score through a scramble in Atletico Kolkata’s penalty box but the player in yellow could only scuff a limp ball goalwards.

Despite that chance, it was still all Atletico Kolkata in the first half. They were attacking with the kind of verve that I expected Kerala Blasters to display while Kerala Blasters’ defence looked uncertain and unstable.

In fact, Atletico Kolkata were so dominant that they were putting on a show for Pele and their fans. There were back heels as well as cheeky flicks from their players.

All their attacking drive was being led by Hume, who seemed truly inspired against his former team.

It made me wonder if this was to be a game that Hume dominated.

I expected Kerala Blasters to show more creativity in this game but they looked as woefully flat as a beer bottle left open for more than 60 days in pea summer. I haven’t had that but I have had unbelievably warm beer in peak summer, so trust me I have some idea of what I’m talking about.

Kerala Blasters Show Some Milk Teeth

Atletico Kolkata - Nallapan MohanrajNear the end of the first half, they did get a couple of good chances though.

The first was a long range shot as good as Lara’s earlier shot if not better.

This one bent and dipped more and was a volley to boot.

The next chance came on the back of a mistake from Atletico Kolkata’s Nallappan Mohanraj who just ran on the ball as opposed to running with it.

The ball dropped to Kerala Blasters’ Rahul Shankar Bheke who made a mess of it. Bheke did all the hard work well by beating the defender but when it came to crossing, his effort was downright embarrassing. With Dagnall in a wonderful position in the middle, the ball was driven through too hard by Bheke.

Atletico Kolkata Double Their Lead Early

Atletico Kolkata - Javi LaraKerala Blasters continued their poor performance deep into the second half. Within a few minutes, Atletico Kolkata doubled their league through Lara. Lara, who was denied by the woodwork in the first half made no mistake this time out.

Atletico Kolkata’s build up for this goal was top class and a far cry from how they played last year. The goal was set up by Iain Hume again, this time outside the box. He dribbled in the centre and released a simple but effective toe poke to Lara.

Lara dribbled too, beat his man, and struck a right footed shot into the far corner of the Goal. While the ball took a little deflection which helped it along but the goal was still beautiful. It was the 25th goal of the Indian Super League 2015 season, in case you are interested in some mundane statistics. Atletico Kolkata 2 – 0 Kerala Blasters FC

Atletico Kolkata Managed The Next 30 Minutes Superbly

Atletico Kolkata’s second goal came in at 53 minutes. You would normally expect the team that is two goals down to mount a fight back or at least try to mount one but Kerala Blasters seemed so limp that it seemed like they were all 80 year olds trying to do relive their younger days.

Atletico Kolkata deserve some credit for that because they managed the really well. They essentially defanged Kerala Blasters without actually mailing them with their physical play. Instead, they finessed them into submission with a special focus on organisation and stability.

Need to eat my earlier words, I do. Atletico Kolkata were nowhere near unstable and uncertain in defence. They were resolute, solid, and very sure of themselves. The rest of the second half was so slow and dull that I think I had me a little nap in the middle.

Kerala Blasters FC Halve the Lead To Make It Interesting

Kerala Blasters - Chris DagnallI would’ve eaten my words, if they hadn’t suddenly lost the plot. At the stroke of 80 minutes, Atletico Kolkata (I think it was too easy and they were getting bored) decided to gift Kerala Blasters FC a goal.

The goal came on the back of a good cross from the right side by Victor Herrero Forcada or Pulga. The cross was flicked on and almost into the goal by CK Vineeth. The goal was stolen from him by Dagnall who got to the ball and put it in the net before it could cross the goal line. Atletico Kolkata 2 – 0 Kerala Blasters FC.

Despite the Goal, it would be too little too late. Kerala Blasters FC kept trying to score the equaliser spurred on by their sudden change of luck but it turned out to be futile in the end.

The game was over when Kerala Blasters FC went down to ten men on account of Mehtab Hossain receiving his second yellow card of the game.

Tactical Analysis: First Impressions + Projections

Antonio Lopez HabasThe reason why Kerala Blasters FC lost today is that they were too narrow in how they setup.

The idea from Taylor was that the wingbacks would bomb forward to join the attack but it was…how can I say it nicely without using words like stupid… let’s see… it was overly optimistic of Peter Taylor.

His team was away to the most intimidating stadium in the country and he for some reason thinks that his wingbacks would be able to attack.

His second mistake was that he only had three midfielders. I think he wanted to use the pace of Watt and Dagnall but it didn’t pan out because there was no one in Kerala’s team to release a ball like that.

Josu Currias (the commentator unbelievably compared him to Cesc Fabregas) was probably who Taylor was relying on to spot and come up with some through balls for Watt and Dagnall to exploit. However, Josu was largely ineffective because Atletico Kolkata had five men in their midfield. Even Cesc Fabregas wouldn’t have been able to have an impact on the game in a 3 against 5 situation.

I was uncertain of Peter Taylor when he was announced by Kerala Blasters. I was critical of Kerala’s squad when I did a review on them. Now, in one match they’ve shown everything that I pointed out. I questioned their need for 9 defenders. They had five defenders in this game and not enough midfielders which is why they lost.

This defeat is the sole responsibility of Kerala Blasters’ manager and no one else. He needs to put his arm up and take the blame.

Habas the Henchman, in contrast, put in another master class managerial performance. His team was well set up, showed none of the uncertainty that I expected, and paced the game very well. After Atletico Kolkata took the lead, they managed the game so well that it was reminiscent of Italian teams in the European Champion’s League. This was a perfect performance for Atletico Kolkata and they deserve to celebrate and get themselves some frothy, bubbly German glass of beer (no rewards for guessing where my mind is).

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FC Pune City vs. Mumbai City FC Review: FCPC Down MCFC at Home

FC Pune City vs. Mumbai City FC

Of the first round of Indian Super League 2015 season, this is the match that I was looking forward to most. Yes, it wasn’t FC Goa’s game nor was it the game between Chennaiyin and Atletico. It was this one because Mumbai City FC’s squad excites me. Moreover, even FC Pune City’s squad isn’t all that bad.

While Mumbai City FC’s squad is very attacking in personality, FC Pune City’s squad is more balanced. However, the astuteness that Nicolas Anelka has shown in the transfer market is something that has shown me that he has a very good managerial perception. So, I really want to see what his team will be able to do on the pitch. In contrast, I am still not convinced with David Platt.

Team News for FC Pune City and Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC - Frederic PiquionneThere were a couple of interesting placements by the two managers in defining their first elevens.

David Platt left Adrian Mutu on the bench on account of a minor niggle and instead put Tuncay Sanli in the front line with support from Nicky Shorey and Manish Maithani from the wings.

He also left Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh out of his starting line-up because of his international duties.

Nicolas Anelka went with Frederic Piquionne as his forward of choice as opposed to himself or even Sunil Chhetri (same reason as Jackichand and Lyngdoh), something that I didn’t agree with so much. The good bit was that he backed Piquionne up with Andre Moritz, Sony Norde, and Gabriel Fernandes. There was enough creativity in the attacking midfield to cover up for Piquionne limitations.

The really good bit was the formations of the two teams with both them going with an attacking setup of forward backed by forward wingers with Mumbai having a central attacking midfielder too.

Mumbai City FC Begin the Game on the Front Foot

Mumbai City FC started the game on the front foot with Piquionne leading the charge by reaching the by-line and cutting the ball back. He had a teammate in the middle of the box who took a snapshot straight at the keeper.

The Mumbaikars were getting a lot of joy with long balls over the top of the Pune defence. They won a few freekicks as well as connected with a few of those passes well within the first 10 minutes.

FC Pune City Take the Lead

Tuncay "The Mandarin" SanliRegardless of how much Mumbai City FC dominated the first few minutes, it was FC Pune City that broke the deadlock against the run of play.

The goal was a result of fast counterattacking football. Pune brought the ball forward from the left side of midfield led by Lenny Rodrigues who came up with a sumptuous through ball to Nicky Shorey.

The ball then travelled from the left to the right with a good pass from Shorey to Israil Gurung.

Gurung dropped a shoulder, kept his head, and released a pinpoint cross for The Mandarin (Tuncay Sanli) to attack.

The Mandarin converted with his head from point-blank range. FC Pune City 1 – 0 Mumbai City FC.

Mumbai City FC Level the Score

Mumbai City FC - Ashutosh MehtaFor the next 20 minutes or so, Mumbai City FC kept trying to go over FC Pune City’s defence as opposed to going through them.

However, it was going to pay off for them later in the 34th minute.

Mumbai City FC had a great chance to level the score when Frederic Piquionne controlled a long ball and put in a great cross to Norde. Norde, however, could only hit the woodwork.

It wouldn’t matter though because the ball bounced back into play and went to Ashutosh Mehta dropped in a peach of a cross into the middle of the Pune box. The cross curled, dipped, and looped straight onto the head of Piquionne who nodded the ball into the goal. FC Pune City 1 – 1 Mumbai City FC

Mumbai almost took the lead five minutes later when Gabriel beat his marker and cut the ball back to Andre Moritz who hit the shot well but it was straight at the keeper. There a few chances that Mumbai City FC created after going down by a goal. By the end of 45 minutes, they should’ve been up by at least one goal.

Second Half Begins With Heavy Focus on Tactics from Both Teams

FC Pune City - Israil GurungIn the half time window, I was hoping for Anelka and Mutu to come onto the pitch although I felt that both of them coming on would be unlikely.

The second half kicked off with the team exchanging punches. Even so, I felt that FC Pune City were getting the better of that exchange. Around the 50th minute, Didier Zokora got his customary yellow card. He is very friendly with cards; gets them whenever he can. I swear if he wasn’t a footballer, he would’ve been a Hallmark salesman – Didier “Hallmark” Zokora!

It all came to a head in the 56th minute when FC Pune City scored their second through The Mandarin. He scored with another header. The goal was a redux of the first strike with Israil Gurung providing the cross. Gurung’s cross this time, like last time, was top quality! FC Pune City 2 – 1 Mumbai City FC

FC Pune City Doubles the Lead

Mumbai City FC - Keegan PereiraHaving done his job, The Mandarin was taken off by David Platt. Who did he bring on? He brought on Mutu.

That’s not a bad player to bring on with 60 minutes gone. Anelka played his hand by bringing on Selim Benachour for the wayward and ineffective Moritz.

It didn’t make a lot of difference because luck favoured FC Pune City. Israil Gurung ran down the right wing and tried to put in another great cross.

However, as Keegan Pereira tried to block the cross, the ball snicked off his boot and looped over the head of his keeper into the far corner. It was an unfortunate goal. FC Pune City 3 – 1 Mumbai City FC

Anelka and Mutu Grace an Indian Grown Simultaneously

Mumbai City FC - Nicolas AnelkaThat goal meant that we would see Anelka and Mutu on the pitch at the same time.

And so it was with Anelka coming on in the 75th minute for Juan Aguilera Nunez.

Despite going down two goals, it was still FC Pune attacking and Mumbai City FC looked quite listless.

There was improvement when their manager came on to the pitch, though.

Once Anelka came on, everything was being run through him. He was actually having an impact as well with some nice passes, crosses, and one-twos. Even so, it wasn’t to make that much of a difference because there were to be no more goals.

Tactical Analysis: First Impressions + Projections

This was easily the most tactical game of the three we’ve see till now. The game would’ve probably ended level if it wasn’t for Gurung and Sanli’s almost telepathic connection. It’s good to see an Indian player having such a positive understanding with a world-class player.

On the other side, I think picking Moritz in the first eleven came back to bite Anelka in the arse because he was unbelievably unproductive. Essentially, the teams were well matched tactically and it was only the performance of certain players on the day that proved to be the difference.

Pune’s Gurung and Sanli clicked while Mumbai’s Norde and Moritz didn’t. Like the other two Indian Super League 2015 games, this game was also decided on the wings. Remember, Pune actually had three fullbacks on the field with Shorey plying his trade in the midfield. So, when Gurjinder Kumar was having a tough time, Pune switched him with Shorey and had a stable defence again.

It’s also worth remembering that both teams were lacking some key players. I would generally expect both Lyngdoh and Chhetri to start for their teams or at least make a difference some time.

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FC Goa vs. Delhi Dynamos FC Review

FC Goa vs. Delhi Dynamos FC

Goa Throw down The Gauntlet; Delhi Show Improvement

Yesterday’s match was epic in its unique way. It was a good kick-off for the Indian Super League 2015 season. Now, let’s hope that FC Goa turn on the magic unlike last year when they struggled early on in the league. Those of you who’ve followed this blog before would know that I have a soft spot for FC Goa.

Effectively, while my analysis of this match will be neutral as always, you will see little hints of where my heart lies. On the other hand, I am a Delhi lad so I don’t really know where my loyalties should lie. I think I’ll go with the team that plays good football, regardless of whether that team wins or not. I predict good football and a win for FC Goa.

Team News for FC Goa & Delhi Dynamos FC

FC Goa - LucioTeam news surprised me a little but that’s probably because I don’t know all the players as well as I should. I expected Narayan Das in the starting line-up but Zico went with Keenan Almeida. I thought Zico would go for Daryl Duffy but he went for Reinaldo Da Cruz Oliveira.

Rest of the FC Goa starting line-up was as I thought it would be. There were surprises for me in Delhi Dynamos FC’s team too. First and foremost, I wanted to see Adil Nabi but Roberto Carlos went with Richard Gadze.

There wasn’t even Robin Singh in the starting line-up because of his international duties. Seeing Gadze being picked over Nabi and Singh, I immediately felt that it was a mistake from the Brazilian legend. I thought John Arne Riise would play in the central defensive position and I was right.

From the starting line-ups, it was evident that FC Goa was going for a possession based strategy while Delhi Dynamos FC were thinking defence first. FC Goa had had a five man midfield set up while Delhi Dynamos FC chose a five man defence. This was going the big mistake in my eyes because FC Goa won the game in midfield.

The First Half Kicks Off With FC Goa

FC Goa - Mandar Rao DesaiFC Goa started the game brightly keeping the ball well and showing good sharpness. Delhi Dynamos FC were pegged back and it took FC Goa only 3 minutes to break through their defence.

The man responsible for the damage was, don’t give you dare give me that astonished expression, Romeo. The ball came lofted down the right flank; Romeo took it on his chest with a brilliant first touch. His next touch saw him beat the last man.

He reached the touchline, faked a cross to see the defender pass him by, and picked out a wonderful cut back onto the penalty sport. Mandar Rao Desai was running in from the left flank. He got ahead of his marker and dinked the ball over the Delhi keeper, Sanjiban Ghosh. FC Goa 1 – 0 Delhi Dynamos FC.

My dear gentlemen, this was a breath-taking goal with brilliant play from the men in blue. Take a bow Romeo, there; be many Juliettes after that bit of skill.

Delhi Dynamos FC were looking very ragged. They were trying a counterattacking game but FC Goa were pressing very well. There were lots of long balls from Delhi but they would never get through Lucio and Gregory Arnolin with those kinds of balls. This was FC Goa of last season folks.

There was one thing though. Delhi Dynamos FC weren’t looking as woeful as their 2014 avatars.

Delhi Dynamos FC Fight Back

Delhi Dynamos FC - Florent MaloudaIn the 11th minute, Delhi Dynamos FC used their luck when a long shot came in from FC Goa’s midfield.

The Delhi keeper parried the ball straight to an unmarked Romeo who could only connect with air. The ball still bobbled to Lucas Moura who hit the ball hard first time.

Delhi Dynamos FC pegged FC Goa straight back with a counterattack. Hans Mulder reached the right flank by-line and managed to cross the ball in. The ball trickled across the FC Goa goalmouth. A minute later, Richard Gadze got free of the Goa defence and went up one on one with Elinton Sanchotene Andrade. He tried to dink the ball but the keeper stayed big to block it.

After the first 10 or so minutes were gone, Florent Malouda announced himself with a mazy dribble and a smart cutback. He would go on to show more skill from different places on the pitch but Delhi couldn’t convert the chances. Another Delhi player who started shining along with Malouda was Vinicius Ferreira de Souza. The man reminded me of how Romeo appeared out of nowhere last year.

FC Goa Double Their Lead through Reinaldo

FC Goa - ReinaldoAfter the 20th minute, the game settled down a little with FC Goa sitting back to wait for a counterattack and Delhi Dynamos FC finding it difficult to go through their defence.

There was a lot of scrappiness as well. However, just before the half time whistle, Delhi Dynamos FC’s worst nightmares came alive like Goosebumps.

They gave away a silly foul on the edge of their box on the right flank to Joffre.

The resulting freekick was taken by Jofre low and hard and finished by Reinaldo with his knee. So, goals through open play and a freekick for FC Goa. FC Goa 2 – 0 Delhi Dynamos FC.

Players That Were Visible For Right and Wrong Reasons

FC Goa - Keenan AlmeidaBoth Malouda and Vinicius were wreaking havoc on FC Goa’s right flank where the new boy Almeida was deployed.

He looked quite overawed by the occasion. I still think Debabrata Roy would’ve done better on the right with Narayan Das coming into the left back position.

Almeida was looking all over the place, committing fouls, dropping balls while taking throw-ins.

Throughout the rest of the first half, Delhi huffed and puffed but they could neither get the right shot nor the right pass. Part of the reason was Denson Devadas who started sticking to Malouda like a leach in heat.

He did a brilliant job screening Malouda and the FC Goa back four. Another Goa player that stood out was Lucas Moura who showed some great vision along with passing and dribbling skills

Roberto Carlos Takes Matter into His Own Hands in the Second Half

Delhi Dynamos FC - Roberto CarlosThe second half began with Roberto Carlos and Gustavo Dos Santos coming into the fray for Mulder and Vinicius. Carlos took up the central midfield position from Mulder while Dos Santos took up his position on the wings. The change didn’t have much of an impact because Delhi Dynamos FC still looked toothless while FC Goa continued to create chances on the counter.

There was a goalmouth scramble preceded by a gorgeous Riise run and two post hits. Riise ran the ball forward and then struck a left footed curler onto the far post. The ball went to the far wing from where a cross came onto the head of Malouda. Malouda headed it onto the post as well.

A Battling Second Half with Some Chances

Delhi Dynamos FC - Adil NabiThe second half continued dully till the 70th minute after which it picked up in entertainment.

Around this time Delhi also gave us our first look at Adil Nabi. His first touch was skilful with a cool pass at the end of his skills.

On the other end, Sanijban Ghosh played out of his skin and smothered the ball at the feet of Desai when a goal should’ve been the most likely outcome. The rest of the second half played out the way the whole match went with Delhi trying to get behind Goa defence and Goa counterattacking.

Tactical Analysis:  First Impressions + Projections

FC Goa - ZicoIt rained before this match. The climate plays a crucial role in how a game plays out. Rains usually make the field quicker where the ball skids off the moisture on the grass. That wasn’t the case here because the ball was holding up instead. That only happens when the drainage system of the field isn’t up to the mark.

The point is that the ball was holding up on the pitch. Romeo used that very well in the first goal when he poked the ball beyond a diving Riise. While Romeo is a wonderful player, he isn’t so good as to adjust his game so quickly to the pitch. He could cope with the changed nature of the pitch because it was his home ground.

In terms of how the teams played, I think Delhi Dynamos FC played as individuals while FC Goa played as a well drilled team. There was more cohesion in how the Goans were playing while Delhi looked more cobbled together.

FC Goa’s strategy was simply to use the pace of their wingers against Delhi’s wingbacks. For me, Delhi Dynamos FC made the same mistake that Chennaiyin FC made yesterday. They didn’t have wingers because they chose to go with a five man defence. Atletico De Kolkata took advantage of that yesterday and FC Goa did the same today. The game was won in the midfield and specifically on the wings.

FC Goa took the lead in the 3rd minute. After that, they decided to sit back and counterattack by using the speed of their wingers. The whole game played out like this with FC Goa’s strategy paying dividends with their second goal.

In essence, Zico’s experience as a manager overshadowed Roberto Carlos’s strategy.

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Chennaiyin FC vs. Atletico De Kolkata Review: CFC Degrades While ATK Upgrades

Chennaiyin FC vs. Atletico De Kolkata

Ok, let’s get the immaterial out of the way – the opening ceremony. Utter waste of time except the fact that it allowed us to see how much bigger the Indian Super League 2015 season is than the 2014 season. The opening ceremony was essentially the who’s who of the Indian celebrity circuit. This is all I’m willing to say of an event that I believe doesn’t deserve to turn into a tradition. But us commentators don’t matter because sponsors have to get their few minutes of fame.

Team News for Chennaiyin FC & Atletico De Kolkata

As for the game, there isn’t much backstory involved. Materazzi’s selection didn’t inspire me before the match much. The reason was that he chose Fikru and Jeje as his strike force. They were just too defensive.

I liked Atletico De Kolkata’s formation much more. Displaying an embarrassment of attacking riches, Habas the Henchman had Baljit Sahni, Iain Hume, and Helder Postiga in his line-up together. My early prediction was a win for ATK with CFC biting the dust, despite what the Star Sports experts said.

The Game Kicks Off With an Indian Twist

Chennaiyin FC - ElanoThe first chance fell to Jeje who had a free header from an Elano corner but he skewed it wide.

The corner, itself, was won by Elano’s dribbling skills. After that we had a reminder that the game was being played in India – a three legged dog decided to take a stroll on the Chennaiyin FC pitch.

What an embarrassment that was. Harmanjot Khabra received an unfair yellow card when the ball hit his arm.

He was obliviously jumping in the wall trying to block a freekick. Who won that freekick? Why, the pesky Hume of course.

Chennaiyin FC’s main weapon was, don’t be surprised, Elano. Elano looked incredibly sharp, fresh, and fit. He popped up all over the place to receive and release the ball in the likeliest of situations. It was obvious that Materazzi had given Elano a complete free role with no defensive responsibilities.

It was also clear that Atletico De Kolkata was struggling to keep a tab on Elano. Essentially, when a player floats like Elano was doing, the manager of the opposition needs to assign someone to manmark him because zonal systems don’t work in such situations.

Atletico De Kolkata Take the Lead Through a Double Agent

Chennaiyin FC - EdelThe first goal came in the 13th minute on the back of Edel’s howler. It was a simple enough floated freekick from ATK’s right side.

The ball should have been caught easily by Edel but he ran into his own player Mailson, fell on his bum, and dropped the ball right into the path of Helder Postiga.

He won’t get an easier goal than that all through the current season. Chennaiyin FC 0 – 1 Atletico De Kolkata

That was an appalling start for Edel who, if you remember, used to play for Atletico De Kolkata last year. Controversy theorists, would you please stand up and be counted with your creativity. Jokes apart though, that was a poor first goal of ISL2.

Fikru Can’t Score But He Does Contribute Nonetheless

Chennaiyin FC - FikruAfter that Fikru showed exactly why I don’t rate him much. He had an open shot created by Elano but he fluffed his lines and dragged his shot wide because he wanted to bang it in as opposed to placing it in. Fikru repeated the anti-skill a little while later in the 22nd minute. Granted, he was facing two defenders but he could’ve at least got a shot off.

Chennaiyin FC came back into the game on the stroke of the 31st minute. Chennaiyin FC were constantly winning freekicks for Elano to exploit, as is their way.

This one paid off. Elano dropped a wonderful ball over the head of Atletico’s left back with Fikru ghosting in behind him. The header was won by Fikru but deflected by the keeper. The ball bobbled to Jeje Lalpekhlua who made no mistakes. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 1 Atletico De Kolkata

In the 29th minute, Baljit Sahni received his customary yellow card by going too strong against an opponent. He could’ve never won that ball but he decided to jump against the wall. Sahni has a tendency to draw yellow cards left, right, and centre so it’s no surprise that he got one in his very first game.

Lara Announces His Presence With Some Delicious Skills in the Second Half

Atletico De Kolkata - Javier Lara GrandeDuring the half time, Marco Materazzi decided to bring on Bernard Mendy for Mailson. I can only assume that it was because of some form of injury. That was a forced substation, not a tactical one, although it could’ve been because Mendy does offer some attacking potential.

For a good 7 to 8 minutes nothing much happened in the game.

Maybe all the players were still having their tea! There were a couple beautiful moves between 52nd and 54th minutes led by Javier Lara Grande.

One was a nice give and go combined with beautiful step overs while the other was a gorgeous reverse pass. If Lara keeps that up, he could really make the Indian Super League 2015 entertaining.

In the 60th minute, Lara came to the fore again with a wonderful freekick. I am going to declare that this man will be very good this season. His freekick was left footed and came from the right side. It clipped the post with the keeper beaten.

John Stiven Mendoza Valencia came on in the 63rd minute. I was waiting for him to be thrown on. In fact, according to me, the game and Chennaiyin FC’s play specifically was screaming out for someone with the skills of Mendoza.

I liked how Chennaiyin FC were pressing the ball. It was calculated and careful, but still effective. They were pressing while simultaneously covering the possible passing lanes but it didn’t make a difference in the overall scheme of things.

Helder Postiga Shows Up Second Time

Atletico De Kolkata - Helder PostigaHelder Postiga made his second appearance in the game by stealing a headed back pass by Mendy.

The pass was short, Postiga stole in, took the ball wide, and finished low through the keeper’s legs. Two silly goals from Chennaiyin FC and score was Chennaiyin FC 1 – 2 Atletico De Kolkata.

In the process of swivelling and scoring, Postiga seemed to have injured himself.

Injuries caused by swivel type shots can be problematic. Postiga seemed to have been grabbing his hamstring.

This could be a long layoff for him which would create considerable problems for Atletico De Kolkata in the next few matches. Postiga was taken off for Valmiro Lopes Rocha (Valdo).

Valdo Puts The Game Beyond Reach

Atletico De Kolkata - Valmiro Lopes RochaValdo would put the match beyond Chennaiyin FC in the 76th minute with a header. A sumptuous cross came in from the left after a lovely bit of skill from Hume. The cross was met by Valdo on the stretch over the defender. He put the ball into the far corner to take the game beyond Chennaiyin FC. Remember, Valdo is a product of Real Madrid’s youth academy. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 3 Atletico De Kolkata.

Atletico De Kolkata received a penalty in the 78th minute because of Mendy’s deliberate handball in the box. Lara took the penalty and put the ball hard to Edel’s lower right, but the keeper made amends for his earlier mistake by saving it. The resulting corner didn’t amount to much.

Chennaiyin pushed on trying to claw their way back. Mendoza shot from the left to the lower right only for the keeper to save it. Materazzi, after that little bit, went all out by introducing Balwant Singh for, here’s a mouthful, Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte (Sena Ralte). This was followed by an ATK substitution where Sushil Kumar Singh came on for Baljit Sahni.

Referee Gets His 30 Seconds Of Fame

In the 88th minute, the referee went mad and gave a silly handball in favour of Chennaiyin FC. The ball didn’t even hit the defender, Arnab Mondal’s, hand. The referee needs to take a dip in his western commode if his judgement is going to be this flawed. The resulting penalty was converted well by Elano. Chennaiyin FC 2 – 3 Atletico De Kolkata.

That goal gave Chennaiyin FC an impetus because they really gave it their all in the last couple of minutes and the stoppage time.

Tactical Analysis:  First Impressions + Projections

Alright! That game deserved to be the opener for ISL2. A 3 – 2 scoreline deserves to be the opener for any league. I believe the game was won and lost on the whiteboard in the lockers under the bleachers.

Habas the Henchman is an experienced manager. He is so experienced that he has coached international games. Materazzi, on the other hand, is a great former player who is only into his second season. And, you know what, it showed.

Materazzi chose to respect his opponents too much. For some reason, he went with the diamond formation with Elano at the head of the midfield. Elano will never defend. In his bid to really utilise Elano, Materazzi forgot about controlling the midfield. He essentially had a midfield of three players. There was a serious lack of balance in Chennaiyin FC’s team sheet. I think the team would’ve been better served with a five man midfield as opposed to a three man midfield.

On top of this, Materazzi all but gifted the wings to his opponents by not picking wingers in his own team. In fact, I think all three goals came because of the wings being empty. The first was a freekick on the wing which may not have occurred if there was a winger in addition to a wingback. The second was a back pass which may not have been needed if there was someone on the wings to receive it. The third goal was a direct cross from the wings.

I liked how Atletico De Kolkata set out for this game. They had two defensive midfielders, one attacking midfielder, and two wingers with a single striker. On top of this, the front three attacking midfielders were interchanging well too. ATK had a five man midfield which is why they won this game.

Not only did I like Atletico De Kolkata in this game but I like what I see in general. I think ATK will continue to dominate the league. For Chennaiyin FC, my projection is that their Indian Super League 2015 season won’t be as good as their 2014 season was. Of course, a lot can change in the future but I don’t see many changes occurring with Chennaiyin FC.

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