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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Atletico De Kolkata vs. Chennaiyin FC Review

The Clash of the Champions ends in an eventful and exciting draw

I’m very curious about a particular statistic about the Indian Super League. Of all the goals scored in the three ISL seasons, I want to know if the vast majority of them were scored in second halves. It’s easy enough to do. All one needs to do is check the scores in all the matches. I am much too lazy to bother. Are any of you interested in doing this? If you watched Atletico De Kolkata vs. Chennaiyin FC, then you know why I want to know.

This match ended in a 2 – 2 draw between the 2014 and 2015 champions. It should ideally have been a home victory but I think the change in stadiums for Kolkata caused some disconnect for its fans. They were mostly quiet throughout the match. Even when Atletico De Kolkata took the lead in the game, I didn’t notice any marked difference from the crowd w.r.t. to noise. Atletico De Kolkata were playing at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, as opposed to the Salt Lake Stadium which is being prepped for the Under17 World Cup.

Chennaiyin FC took full advantage of the apathy from the Atletico De Kolkata fans by bullying their players around. It was a nostalgic match for me, albeit in reverse. I remember Atletico bullying people and being overly physical in 2014. This time it was Chennaiyin being overly physical and Atletico players on the receiving end. It is to both teams’ merit that they managed to get a draw from the match because both of them had leads at different moments of time.

In terms of players, Sameehg Doutie stood out for me, finishing the game with one goal and one assist. Keep an eye on this kid, he can be good if he chooses to eat some protein and lift some weights.

Team News for Atletico De Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC

ATK Stadium

The team news for this one is interesting from the perspective of personnel as well as formation. Atletico de Kolkata chose a flexible formation i.e. 4411 or 442 with Iain Hume operating in the hole behind Helder Postiga. Postiga had a smashing start to the last season but his great start was brought to a gut wrenching halt by injury. He would be looking to avoid the same this time out – the injury not the goals, in case you were confused.

Jose Francisco Molina made an interesting decision by going with the Indian Debjit Majumdar instead of the Spanish Dani Mallo. This could be because of the ISL rule requirement of having at least five Indian players in the team. If Molina had gone with Mallo, he would’ve had to put an Indian in the midfield. It was probably a strategic decision. I’m inclined to trust Molina in his choice of goalkeeper simply because he was a keeper when he used to play. ATK were also without Pablo Gallardo and Ofentse Nato but put Sameehg Doutie (someone I wanted to see very much) into the middle. I was also excited about the combination of Hume and Postiga

I felt that Chennaiyin FC went with a defensive formation. Their formation looked like a 433/451 to me and it was understandable from Marco Materazzi. You see, Chennaiyin neither have Mendoza nor Elano – both of whom were their attacking lynchpins in the last two seasons. Duwayne Kerr was debuting for Chennaiyin. In central defence, Chennaiyin had two pillars of excellence in the form of Bernard Mendy and John Arne Riise. The question was who will start in the centre. My money was on David Succi with Jeje Lalpekhlua and Jayesh Rane on the wings.

Chennaiyin Penetrate More; Atletico De Kolkata Have Crisper Passes

atletico-de-kolkata-vs-chennaiyin-fc-ftThe first half began with Chennaiyin FC in the ascendancy. Their dominance was largely due to Atletico De Kolkata’s defensive strategy of high press. The problem for ATK was that Chennaiyin managed to play through their high press.

The issue was that Atletico De Kolkata weren’t pressing as a team. Their front line i.e. Hume and co was pushing but their defensive minded players weren’t pushing. Thus, Chennaiyin players were getting some joy with longer passes.

During this domination, Chennaiyin had the first and the best chance of the half to score. It came from a free kick that was taken by Hans Mulder. Mulder laid the ball off from the direct free kick to his left for a Riise wallop. The ball deflected off the wall, smacked against the underside of the crossbar, and bounced out.

The initial periods of the first half was typified by two things – the fact that Hume doesn’t age and the fact that Baljit Sahni likes to dive and con the referee. I’m sure that you can tell that I don’t condone the latter and respect the former.

Atletico De Kolkata, for some reason, didn’t produce as many chances as they should’ve despite the fact that their passing was crisper than Chennaiyin’s. This was probably because they didn’t use width enough even though their wing-play was really effective. By the latter part of the first half, the game devolved (or evolved depending upon your inclinations) into a midfield battle. Atletico De Kolkata’s best chance also came from a wickedly whipped free kick taken by Javier Lara Grande. It was a shot cum cross that gave Kerr some trouble.

Atletico De Kolkata Open Scoring

atletico-sameehg-doutieThe second half began with a glaring mistake from Bernard Mendy as he fell over while trying to stop Postiga. The mistake went unpunished, though, because Riise mopped up.

Riise’s free kick continued to cause trouble for Atletico De Kolkata as Debjit Majumdar was forced to flap away an acute in swinging free kick. The free kick was promptly followed by counter attack from Atletico where Lara was set up by Hume only for the latter to deliver a tame shot directly at Kerr.

Just when everyone started thinking that this would be a dead, dull, and dreary 0 – 0 draw, Doutie popped up with a goal. Postiga ran with the ball to the left of the centre circle, drew all the defenders and spread a lofted ball to the right at the feet of the onrushing Doutie. Doutie’s first touch to take the ball down was butter on a pan.

The beauty of the first touch allowed him the time to take a second and set the ball up for a nice one on one with the keeper. The one on one was a result of the left back, Nalappan Mohanraj, tucking in for the missing centre back. The real culprit for the goal, however, was Jayesh Rane who failed to support his left back. Needless to say, Doutie finished with aplomb at 59 minutes. Atletico De Kolkata 1 – 0 Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin Equalise; Promptly Take the Lead

Chennaiyin Jayesh RaneAtletico De Kolkata’s lead didn’t last for long, though. Chennaiyin FC equalised via the earlier culprit Jayesh Rane at 66 minutes. Rane made up for his mistake by breaking the offside trap and catching a scuffed shot from Jeje Lalpekhlua. Even though he was facing the keeper, there was still a lot to do. He did all that was required by controlling the ball and dinking it over the onrushing Majumdar. Atletico De Kolkata 1 – 1 Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin upped the ante four minutes later by taking the lead through a speculative shot that deflected into the net. Hans Mulder took the shot from well out. It didn’t even have enough power on it but it still deflected off Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo or “Titi”, wrong-footed Majumdar and sneaked inside the post. Atletico De Kolkata 1 – 2 Chennaiyin FC

Atletico De Kolkata Get Loads of Chances; Convert One

atletico-iain-humeGoing a goal down, lit up a fire in Atletico players’ you know where. They fashioned a chance for Postiga only for their marquee player to direct his free header straight at Kerr from a Doutie free kick. Postiga’s chance was followed by a chance for Hume. Hume was found on the far post by a cross but he could only flash his shot on the wrong side of the far post.

Hume even got a second chance. This time it was an absolutely free header from the same position. He was so free that he got confused by it. He neither shot at the goal nor set up his partner in crime, Postiga. His cushioned header was too close to Kerr.

Dudu, who had come on earlier, was the one to get a clear cut chance next. He met a cross from the left flank at point blank range only to loop his shot over. It was a position from where it would’ve been easier to score. That miss would prove to be very costly for Chennaiyin as Atletico De Kolkata would equalise through a Hume penalty. The penalty was won by Doutie as he was bundled over in the box on 84 minutes by Jerry L’Rinzuala. Hume converted the penalty by putting it into the keeper’s right hand bottom corner. Atletico De Kolkata 2 – 2 Chennaiyin FC

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Northeast United FC vs. Kerala Blasters FC: KBFC’s Master Class!

Northeast United FC vs. Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala Blasters FC are bottom of the table as I predicted before the season began. I feel no sense of accomplishment in that. What I do feel proud about is Northeast United FC and how they’re on track to proving me right. I suggested in the beginning that Northeast United FC have the potential to surprise everything this time out and that is panning out to be, more or less, true.

Kerala Blasters FC are bottom of the table and on the way they’ve been playing, I feel that that is a perfectly fine place for them to be. On paper, Northeast United FC may be overachieving but it’s not a surprise for anyone who is aware of what Cesar Farias has done in the past.

It should also not be a surprise for seasoned football watchers because teams that rely on internal solutions and work with minimal funds tend to take time to gel. Farias, according to me, is the perfect man to do that for Northeast United FC.

A win would put Northeast United FC, would you believe it, top of the Indian Super League 2015 table. They’re at home so I expect them to do the job too!

Team News for Northeast United FC & Kerala Blasters FC

Northeast United FC - Ceras FariasNortheast United FC have tempered and defanged many problems in this season. They lost a number of players which caused their early season form to be woeful. However, they have recovered since then earning 13 points out of the last 18 that they’ve contended for.

Along the way, they’ve done the double on two of the four semi-finalists of the last season – Chennaiyin FC and Atletico De Kolkata.

That’s no mean feat. I don’t need to tell you Kerala Blasters FC’s form in the last eight games. They’ve only won once in that time! So, let’s not dwell on someone else’s misery and move on to team news.

Farias chose to make huge changes to the team that beat Chennaiyin FC last time out. He replaced no less than seven players in his team. However, the changes only brought in critical players into the starting line-up because last time out, Farias chose to rest them. In came the defenders Aibor Khongjee, Robin Gurung, and Cedric Hengbart for Reagan Singh and Raju Yumnam with Andre Bikey being deployed in the midfield.

In midfield, Farias chose Alen Deory and Silas over Bruno Herrero Arias and Siam Hanghal. He also gave starts to Nicolas Velez and Sanju Pradhan while Francis Dadzie, Diomansy Kamara, and Seityasen Singh all got benched.

Kerala Blasters FC saw four changes in the form of Antonio German, Sandesh Jhingan, Pulga, and Cavin Lobo starting in place of Mohammed Rafi, Bruno Perone, Ishfaq Ahmed, and the injured Sanchez Watt.

Kerala Blasters FC with a Smashing Beginning

Kerala Blasters FC - Chris DagnallThe first half saw a lightening start from the southerners who scored in the first minute. They pressed Northeast United FC back like demons and rattled them to no end.

Northeast United FC lost the ball which went to German who squared the ball on the floor for Chris Dagnall to pummel into the net under pressure. Northeast United FC 0 – 1 Kerala Blasters FC

It was a very good beginning not only for Kerala Blasters FC but also for the game because Northeast United FC were playing at home. This would ensure that they didn’t sit back, not that that was a danger. Still, this would result in the game becoming more open, attacking, and end to end.

Northeast United FC Fight Back

Northeast United FC - Cedric HengbartNortheast United FC didn’t let their heads drop though. They fought back like they meant it.

They attacked Kerala Blasters FC with nonstop pressing and accomplished wing play.

Velez was a constant thorn in Kerala Blasters’ side along with Simao.

It was he who won a freekick on the right flank when Jhingan shoulder barged him too strongly. The resulting cross fell on to Hengbart’s head, five yards out from the goal. Hengbart headed the ball into the ground straight at the keeper, Stephen Bywater. Bywater parried and the spilt effort was skied by Hengbart.

Kerala Blasters FC Double Their Lead

Kerala Blasters FC - Cavin LoboDespite being put under insane amounts of pressure, Kerala Blasters FC doubled their lead in the 21st minute.

It was a simple goal that came through Lobo.

Lobo broke the Northeast United FC offside trap well and his excellence was met with Josu’s excellence in the way of a lofted ball.

Lobo took the ball down well and finished under the keeper into the far corner. Northeast United FC 0 – 2 Kerala Blasters FC

The goal came from nothing. It was just sorry defending from Northeast United FC. They were keeping a high line throughout the game and it turned out to be their primary problem with this goal.

Kerala Blasters FC Fashion More Chances

Kerala Blasters FC - JosuNortheast United FC would continue attacking but in the last few minutes of the half, Kerala Blasters FC fashioned some really great chances to extend their lead. First they were sliced open by Chris Dagnall dribbling and crossing skills and then it was a header from Peter Ramage that caused them problems.

That was followed by a peach of a shot from Josu from outside the box. The ball was passed to him from the left flank and he hit the shot first time without breaking his stride.

Effort but No Product from Northeast United FC in Second Half

Northeast United FC - SimaoThe second half began in a tepid manner. Northeast United FC tried to make things happen with a substitution but it didn’t have the effect that Farias probably intended.

Kerala Blasters FC were playing well knocking the ball about and keeping the home team and home fans quiet. However, things did heat up with a melee between the two teams fuelled by a penalty claim by Simao.

The claim was genuine but it was a call that could’ve gone either way. Referee chose to favour Kerala Blasters FC which incensed Northeast United FC players to no end.

Kerala Blasters FC Add Two More Goals

Kerala Blasters FC - Antonio GermanNortheast United FC looked toothless throughout the second half. The only time they looked even a little bit effective was when Diomansy Kamara came on and dribbled the ball.

Even Kamara’s efforts would mean nothing because Kerala Blasters FC would add two more goals to their tally. The first of these came from German after Josu dribbled to the by-line only to pull the ball back.

German would receive the ball and caress it with their left foot into the far bottom corner. Northeast United FC 0 – 3 Kerala Blasters FC

That goal was immediately followed by Kerala Blasters FC’s fourth which was scored solely on the shoulders of Dagnall. Dagnall dribbled the ball a good distance and was pushed wider and wider by Northeast United FC defence. He was unfazed though because he smashed the ball into the right bottom corner from a left sided acute angle. Northeast United FC 0 – 4 Kerala Blasters FC

Northeast United FC players were so dejected that the rest of the second half went by in a doze. There was nothing to report for the last ten minutes up until the 91st minute. Velez scored his 4th goal of the season with a wicked left footed shot that was hit so hard that the keeper didn’t even see it. Northeast United FC 1 – 4 Kerala Blasters FC

Tactical Analysis:  First Impressions + Projections

This was, no doubt, a silly game for Northeast United FC fans. The highlanders were strangely pathetic in this game. It wasn’t even that Farias made a miscalculation or Terry Phelan came up with a rabbit out of the hat.

This loss was all down to the Northeast United FC players having a game to forget. They were slow, uncommitted, and uninterested in the game. If someone was to tell me that all the Northeast United FC players went out to party last night and guzzled three bottles of whiskey each, I wouldn’t be surprised because they were playing like they had a splitting hangover.

If I was to pick some tactical flaw from Farias, I would go with the Northeast United FC penchant for a high defensive line. Lobo especially had a lot of joy with that high defensive line. He broke the offside trap consistently in the game with his channel running.

A high defensive line only works when you have a lot of possession or if the opponent players are slow. It doesn’t work when you give the opponents enough time to pick out a pass. The Lobo goal was like a still life painting – that’s how static the Northeast United FC defenders were.

Bikey in midfield, according to me, was a slight mistake as well although it wasn’t responsible for the loss. Bikey just isn’t mobile enough to play the role of the ball winner which is what he was put there for. Granted, he was physical but he was too slumberous to use that strength.

Also worth pointing is that Simao had a forgettable game. He forgot to show up for this game to the detriment of his team.

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