Chennaiyin FC vs. FC Goa Review

Chennaiyin FC Beat FC Goa with a Gloriously Professional Performance

This was a game billed to be one of the best of the season simply because it was between the last year’s finalists. Moreover, the game was expected to be good because both Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa have been sucking lately. It’s not just basic sucking but instead heavy duty sucking. Before the game began, between the two teams there was only one point. That means that they had played two games each and Chennaiyin FC had one point while FC Goa had none.

The game was a tame affair that was managed handsomely well by Chennaiyin FC. Chennaiyin FC took the lead early in the first half and then doubled their lead mid-way through the half. As well as Chennaiyin FC played, FC Goa was also toothless and impotent.

Team News for Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa

sahil-tavora-fc-goaThe surprise in team news came from Chennaiyin FC who made no less than five different changes in this game. Most of the changes made by Marco Materazzi were aimed at fixing his team’s suffering defence. He replaced the last game’s goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr with the Indian Karanjit Singh and then topped that by bringing in Eli Sabia and Jerry Lalrinzuala for Bernard Mendy and Nallappan Mohanraj respectively.

The Chennaiyin FC midfield was also shuffled around as MacPherlin Dudu Omagbemi was replaced by Manuele Blasi and Jeje Lalpekhlua was switched out for the incoming Davide Succi. That’s a massive number of changes for a football, regardless of whether you consider Real Madrid or Chennaiyin FC. I felt those changes would have a major say in the game, whether on the positive side or negative side.

FC Goa, in contrast to the reigning champions, made only two changes. They brought in Sahil Tavora and Reinaldo Da Cruz Oliveira for Richarlyson Felisbino and Mandar Rao Dessai, respectively. The key for FC Goa, as is obvious, is to keep Laxmikanth Kattimani or Lucio from making mistakes. Both have contributed to their team’s defeats in the past.

Chennaiyin FC Start Well and Reap Dividends

The first half of the game began with a penalty claim for FC Goa. The penalty claim came when a Gaur player took a tumble in the Chennaiyin FC box on a fair tackle. However, there wasn’t enough contact and the penalty was rightly denied.

The initial period of the first half was full of turnovers from both teams. It was almost as if both teams were on a date with each other and didn’t know what to say on account of being only 16-year old. No, I haven’t faced such a situation. In case you’re interested, my problem has always been talking too much when faced with nervousness.

Chennaiyin FC showed more creativity and looked the more likely to score. This is why it wasn’t a surprise when they did with a sweet, sweet shot from Hans Mulder. He took on a short but smart pass outside the FC Goa box and struck an orgasmic shot straight into the far corner. It wasn’t a powerful shot. It wasn’t a wallop. Instead, it was almost a caress of a shot. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 0 FC Goa

Chennaiyin FC Pile On the Misery

mehrajuddin-wadoo-chennaiyin-fcConceding the opening goal almost took the stuffing out of FC Goa and their game became as limp as a…erm… 16-year-old watching an old Bollywood film from the 1970s with his parents.

The worst bit was just when they tried to show some confidence and determination, an old, sad, and dull Bollywood song showed up to really knock them off their feet. You see, Chennaiyin FC doubled their lead with what was an incredibly fortuitous goal from Mehrajuddin Wadoo.

It was a hopeful cross cum shot from the edge of the box that was headed into the ground by Rafael Dumas. Unfortunately, the headed deflected popped up off the ground and into the net with speed leaving Kattimani no chance whatsoever. Chennaiyin FC 2 – 0 FC Goa.

For the rest of the first half, FC Goa tried to halve the deficit half-heartedly. They needed more passion, verve, and drive to do so but there was none to be found.

FC Goa Get Managed by Chennaiyin FC

hans-mulder-chennaiyin-fcThe second half didn’t start well for FC Goa as they had to replace Lucio with Felisbino. The removal of Lucio meant that Balmuchu was moved into defence while Felisbino slotted into the Gaur midfield.

With respect to the gameplay, Chennaiyin FC managed the entire second half very well. They not only kept FC Goa at an arm’s length throughout the second half (there was no real chance for the Gaurs) but also countered at just the right moment. Even though Chennaiyin FC didn’t score the third goal, they looked the more likely of the two teams to score.

Chennaiyin FC’s cause was helped by Zico’s decision to not bring Romeo Fernandes on up until the 76th minute. It made no sense whatsoever to keep their most offensively proficient player on the bench so long, especially since FC Goa needed to score. In a nutshell, there’s no doubt about the fact that FC Goa deserved to lose.

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Mumbai City FC vs. NorthEast United FC Review

Unforced Error Takes Down NorthEast United FC

Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United FC, before this game, were two of three teams in the Indian Super League with 100% record i.e. wins, wins, and only wins. Something had to give and it did. Nelo Vingada tried to be tactical about the game and set up his team to counter the threat of Diego Forlan. His team did well up until they shot themselves in the foot, with a ball of lead.

The NorthEast United FC strategy was to sit back, soak up pressure, and hit Mumbai City FC on the counter. For the most part, they translated their strategy onto the pitch wonderfully. The problem was an unforced error from Didier Zokora. Zokora started in defence so the key matchup was Zokora vs. Forlan. Zokora lost since he was the one who messed up.

Until the goal, the pattern of the game was this: Mumbai City FC trying to free Forlan through balls over the top as well as defence-splitting passes. Throughout that period, the NorthEast defence was on the ball. This should have been a draw. Mumbai City FC didn’t deserve the three points. A draw would’ve been fair.

By the way, is it just me or does Forlan look like the BFG while other players on the pitch look like Sophie? He looked like a damn giant. I don’t remember him being so huge when he used to play for Manchester United.

Team News for Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United FC

Subrata Paul, NEU FCWith the kind of performances they’ve been putting in, you wouldn’t really expect NorthEast United FC to make changes to their starting 11. However, it is NEU FC of the two teams who made all the changes largely because of the facts that this is their third game and one of their key players is already injured.

For this game, NorthEast United FC brought Nicolas Leandro Velez for Wellington Priori who didn’t have that much of a great game last time. The second change was the inclusion of Seityasen Singh for Holicharan Narzary – what I could only assume to be due to fitness issues because Narzary had a great game last time. The last change for Northeast United was the season’s first start for their marquee player Didier Zokora. He started the game in place of Mailson Alves in what was his secondary position of central defender.

The people to watch in this game from the NorthEast United side on the basis of form alone were Subrata Paul, Velez, Emiliano Alfaro, and even Rowllin Borges

On the opposite end, Mumbai City FC chose to put out an unchanged field. Partly, the reason for this was that this was only their second game of the season and largely the reason was that six of their squad members were unavailable through either injury or less intense fitness issues. Important players that Mumbai City FC will miss include Boithang Haokip, Jackichand Singh, Sony Norde, and Facundo Cardozo.

The players to watch from Mumbai City FC’s perspective include the high-flying Matias Defederico, the legendary Diego Forlan (someone whose potential arrival we talked about last year), and even the Hungarian Krisztian Vadocz.

Mumbai City FC Started Well in a Generally Tepid Half

matias-defederico-mumbai-city-fcThe general sense of the game was tepid. There wasn’t a lot to talk about in this game until the very end of the first half. This was mainly because of NorthEast United FC’s strategy. Their plan was to sit back and try to hit Mumbai City FC on the counter largely because they had to counter the Forlan-Defederico-Costa trident.

They were successful as Mumbai City FC tried to unlock their defence but failed. Despite the fact that they didn’t get through, Defederico lit up the stadium with his early first half performance. He did everything from a sublime back heel pass to beating his man on the dribble and unleashing a swerving shot just off the target.

Even so, the first proper chance of the game fell to NorthEast United FC’s Koffi Christian N’dri or Romaric, as he is primarily called.  Romaric’s volley from the edge of the box left Subrata Paul unsighted but the mature Indian goalkeeper managed to go down low to his left and save the shot.

Like NorthEast United FC, Mumbai City FC’s first proper chance also came through a long range shot. The shot taker was the full back Aiborlang Khongjee. Khongjee wasn’t closed down by NorthEast United FC, who probably didn’t take him seriously enough. The resultant long distance shot had dip and bounced in front of Roberto Volpato Neto, who still managed to push it away for a corner.

Good Finish To a Dull First Half

katsumi-yusa-northeast-united-fcBy the end of the first half, NorthEast United FC had measured the mettle of Mumbai City FC and decided to come out of their shell a little. They became more daring with their counterattacks. That is precisely how they had a very interesting penalty claim when Alfaro went down inside the Mumbai City FC penalty box.

Alfaro had gotten free on goal but decided to try and beat the defender sliding in by turning back. However, he turned back into the oncoming tackle and went down. Luckily for Mumbai City FC, the defender got the ball before he swept Alfaro off his feet and into his lap.

The best chance of the game also fell to NorthEast United FC when Katsumi Yusa got free inside the box. Sadly, his touch let him down. The ball rolled too far and he leant too far back while taking the shot. As always seems to happen when strikers lean back, the shot was sliced into the sky. It looked like the incoming Mumbai City FC tackle put Yusa off. Lastly, Alfaro took a shot from the edge of the box. The shot was well struck but it was turned away a brave defender’s thick skull.

Mumbai City FC Take the Lead to Open Up the Game

diego-forlan-mumbai-city-fcMumbai City FC started the second half better. The difference was the speed of their passing which was faster than what they managed in the first half. The slight tweak to their strategy didn’t have anything to do with how they took the lead, though. They got the lead because of an unforced error from none other than Didier Zokora who tried to be too suave with his cross-field pass inside his own penalty box.

The NorthEast United FC full-back, Reagan Singh tried to manage the tough pass but slipped into the feet of Pronay Halder. In his bid to get the ball back, Singh swivelled on his bum and tried to tackle Halder who fell over. The awarded penalty was, obviously, taken by Diego Forlan who made no mistake. Mumbai City FC 1 – 0 NorthEast United FC.

Subrata Paul, however, deserves a mention. The in-form Indian goalkeeper managed to get a strong glove on the ball but the power of the penalty pulled the ball through.

NorthEast United FC – Forever Alone!

jerry-mawihmingthanga-northeast-united-fcThe suicide pass from the NorthEast United FC defence put a spanner in their well-planned machine. It warranted a change in strategy, the instrument of which was Holicharan Narzary, who came on for Seityasen Singh.

This game also happened to give us all our first chance to see the 18-year-old Jerry Mawihmingthanga – someone who took a week-long training programme at the Melwood training ground of Liverpool’s youth academy. He came on for the defensive minded, Borges.

Narzary almost scored in the 79th minute as he cut in from the right flank and lashed a curling shot towards the top corner. The keeper was well-beaten but the shot swerved wide into the side netting. For the rest of the half, NorthEast United FC tried very hard to get that elusive equaliser. Unfortunately, their efforts were only as useful the efforts of many of our readers to get a girl to like them. In case you’re slow of thought, that means Mumbai City FC won!

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NorthEast United FC vs. FC Goa Review: The Battle of the Sweet Pass

Underdogs Win the Battle of the Sweet Pass

Both NorthEast United FC and FC Goa can be said to be pass masters since they rely on a quick passing game to get their goals. Their passing tendencies weren’t the only similarities between them in this game, though. Both teams had a number of Brazilian players and both of them had Brazilian central defenders as their captains.

NorthEast United FC went into this game looking for their first win over FC Goa in three years and they got it in style! FC Goa huffed and puffed throughout the game but they couldn’t beat the Indian national football team regular goalkeeper Subrata Paul.

In fact, the difference between the two teams, in my opinion, was between the posts. FC Goa missed their last two year’s first keeper, Jan Seda tremendously in this game as Kattimani’s limitations were exposed by NorthEast United FC glaringly. The young Indian keeper could be blamed for both NorthEast United FC’s goals with the first one being obvious and the second one showing a certain lack of quality or, at the very least, confidence.

What the aftermath of today’s game is for both FC Goa and Kattimani is yet to be seen. The young keeper could show resilience and come back stronger or his career could fade away from this point on.

Team News for NorthEast United FC and FC Goa

lucio-silva-fc-goaWith respect to the team news, Nelo Vingada pulled a rabbit out of the hat by replacing star player Nicolas Leandro Velez by Wellington Gomes Priori. the logical conclusion for this change has to be a lack of fitness levels which isn’t something new for the Indian Super League. Apart from Velez, all other NorthEast United FC players continued their stint in the team.

Since I didn’t cover the first game of the season, I’m going to comment on the presence of Subrata Paul in the team over Rehenesh TP. It seems like Vingada has decided to go for seniority and experience over performance this season. It is justified in a way because when a new season begins, form goes out of the window. Rehenesh, though, will make a good deputy for Paul.

Zico’s first team of the season was without the mercurial and highly talented Romeo Fernandes who was planted firmly on the bench. FC Goa was also without Gregory Arnolin through injury. Goa would depend on Mandar Rao Desai and Trindade Goncalves to be their creative forces since their style involves a lot of wing play.

Zico’s stamp on the FC Goa team was more than evident as the “Ravers” (you lot know what I’m talking about. We can turn that into “Reavers” if they dominate the league) contained no less than five Brazilians and that doesn’t include Reinaldo Da Cruz Oliveira. In fact, today’s game had an overpowering Brazilian flavour. There were eight Brazilians on the pitch today – an amazing number.

FC Goa’s Diwali Moment for Northeast United FC

The game began with a nice piece of skill from one of the least likely places in the form of Raju Gaikwad. Gaikwad pulled a nutmeg on the man closing him. It was highly unlikely simply because Gaikwad is supposed to be a centre back who was playing in the right full position. It’s almost like Ryan Shawcross showing footballing skill on the football pitch.

FC Goa won the first corner of the game and made the first chance because of it. It was near post glancing header from Trindade that was blocked for another corner that amounted to nothing.

NorthEast United FC showed what they can do soon after as they created a chance for last game’s goal scorer, Katsumi Yusa. The cross came from the left flank and landed for Yusa who was placed beyond the far post. By the time, he brought the ball down, Laxmikanth Kattimani had rushed into him to smother the snapshot. Kattimani decided to come when the ball was still in the air. It was a good decision too!

However, his decision-making soon let him down as NorthEast United FC took the lead through one of the biggest goalkeeping gaffes I’ve ever seen. Kattimani was closed down by Emiliano Alfaro. It was the lamest clearing ever! Side-footed pass that was blocked by Alfaro. The rebound went straight into the net. Kattimani gets laughed at and the lead goes to the north-easterners. NorthEast United FC 1 – 0 FC Goa

FC Goa Dominate to No Avail

Emiliano Alfaro, NorthEast United FCIn the 28th minute, one of the Brazilians on the pitch got injured and subbed. Mailson Alves had to be replaced by NorthEast United FC’s marquee player, Didier Zokora.

Soon after, despite being a goal down, FC Goa started taking control of the game. They fashioned a number of ‘almost’ chances for their players with Joffre receiving most of them through his shadowy movement off the ball. The best of these chances was created by Desai’s beautiful dribbling skill and an even better cross. He threaded the needle for Joffre with his laser-guided cross but Joffre’s shot was well saved by Paul.

In fact, FC Goa’s dominance of NorthEast United FC started to tell near the end of the first half. Lucio found himself with acres of space on the far post from a free kick. Unfortunately, instead of striking the ball, he tried squaring it. Even so, one of the NorthEast United FC players almost put it into the net in his bid to clear it. It was only Paul who managed to save his blushes.

FC Goa Huffed and Puffed…

Subrata Paul, NorthEast United FCFC Goa showed their intent before the ball was kicked in the second half by bringing on Romeo for Sanjay Balmuchu. It was an attacking move that we’ve all come to expect from Zico as Balmuchu was a defender at the wing position and Romeo is easily one of the most attacking players in FC Goa’s ranks.

The first real goalmouth action came because of a long-range shot by Trindade from the midfield. The shot had venom in it and it was swerving wickedly too. This was followed by two back to back and downright amazing saves from Paul. The first was from a point blank shot taken from near the penalty spot and the second was another long-range, swerving shot.

Those saves showed the importance of a reliable keeper. The only difference between the teams till now was the difference in quality between Paul and Kattimani. In fact, if the latter hadn’t made that mistake, FC Goa would have been considered to be favourites to win this game. Still, ifs and buts don’t really mean much, especially since there was a huge difference in their respective experiences.

…But NorthEast United FC Brought the House Down

In the 62nd minute, the difference in goalkeeping experience told again as Alfaro was set free by Holicharan Narzary with a sublime touch. The ball was played into Narzary who flicked it with the outside of his boot into the path of the marauding Alfaro. Alfaro ran through and punched the ball through Kattimani’s legs in what was an extremely cool finish. That was Alfaro’s second goal. NorthEast United FC 2 – 0 FC Goa

This was probably the first chance that NorthEast United FC got in the whole of the second half and they scored from it. It’s never nice when a keeper lets a ball slip between his legs even though it’s a staple strategy for many strikers. In fact, it’s also one of those things that keepers train to avoid. Everybody has a bad day at work sometimes, so we’ll cut Kattimani some slack.

A Predictable End to an Unpredictable Game

It was almost like the second goal knocked the stuffing out of FC Goa because they efforts even stopped being penetrative. Moreover, in their rush to score and NorthEast United FC’s rush to stop them, rough tackles crept in both sides’ games.

NorthEast United FC fashioned another beautiful chance as Velez broke the offside trap and produced a no-look square cross for Alfaro. However, Gaikwad, who had a wonderful game for FC Goa managed to block the shot from point blank range.

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