Super Machans Stifle the Blunt Men of Steel: Jamshedpur FC 0 – 1 Chennaiyin FC Review

Jamshedpur FC’s Attacking Woes Continue; Chennaiyin FC Show How to Kill Off Opponents…Again

I like technical games but let me be honest. During the festive season, you don’t really want to see technical games. You want stuff that gets your blood pumping and brings you to the edge of your seat. Yesterday’s game between Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC wasn’t it. It was a dull affair and I’ve come to realise that virtually every Chennaiyin FC game is a dull affair. Don’t get me wrong, the Super Machans are a great footballing side but They. Just. Don’t. Entertain. Continue reading

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Chennaiyin FC vs. FC Goa Preview

Possession Based Tiki-Taka Visits English Counterattacking

Two draws in the first two games of the season… I thought that kind of thing only happened in Serie A. It seems like we Indians like our pizzas far too much. With Materazzi gone, the upcoming game will not have any Italian influence whatsoever. We’ll see English counterattacking from Chennaiyin FC against the Spanish tiki-taka in this game.

John Gregory and Sergio Lobera couldn’t be from more different footballing schools. Lobera has worked with managerial legends from the very beginning at Barcelona while Gregory has come up the ranks in English football. The schooling is different, the style of play is different, but the refrain will most probably be the same as what Indian football fans have all been arguing about since forever – Barcelona vs. Manchester United/City, Real Madrid vs. Arsenal, and Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea. Continue reading

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Foreign Signings in the ISL Part II – The Other 5 Clubs

[As of 03-09-2017]

This is the second group and it includes FC Pune City, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa, Jamshedpur FC, and Bengaluru FC. In this group, I feel that FC Pune City will do well. Why? It’s because I like their signings so far, their coach has grown on me over the past three seasons, and their transfer business is, by no means, complete for this season.

Goa should also be interesting to watch as they try to ditch the green and yellow motif (Brazil) for the red and yellow insignia (Spain). Intros are fluff. Let’s get down to the meat of the post. Continue reading

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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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Chennaiyin FC vs. FC Pune City Review

Chennaiyin FC vs. FC Pune City

Chennaiyin FC Take Advantage of Lacklustre FC Pune City

Well, well, well… what a result yesterday! By beating two of the semi-finalists of the last season, didn’t Northeast United announce themselves into the 2015 season? Could the results against Chennaiyin FC and Atletico Kolkata show that their team is finally clicking? Could they go on a fantasy run? We’ll know later of course because today is about Chennaiyin FC and FC Pune City.

FC Pune City, the away team today, is doing fairly well in the Indian Super League 2015 season especially if you compare it to their last year’s performance. Chennaiyin FC, the home team, of course, is not having a swell time in the 2015 ISL season.

Will the fact that Chennaiyin FC is playing at home after four games lead to a win for them or will Jackichand Singh continue showcasing his skills and tormenting defenders?

Team News for Chennaiyin FC & FC Pune City

Chennaiyin FC - Alessandro PotenzaThis one will be an interesting battle. Both teams have a lot to play for. A win for FC Pune City will put them on top of the table. In fact, even a draw will propel them above FC Goa on the table. For Chennaiyin FC, this game is important because a win in it will bring them back into contention amongst the big guns.

Chennaiyin FC have been having a stop start season and are finding it tough to capture any kind of consistency. Chennaiyin lost their last game against the Highlanders and Marco Materazzi reacted to that dismal performance by ringing in the changes.

He fixed his error from last team selection by bringing back Elano Blumer and Stiven Mendoza into the starting line-up at the cost of Fikru and Jeje Lalpekhlua. He also chose to rest Alessandro Potenza which I feel might be a huge mistake. Bruno Pelissari and Harmanjot Khabra were also given the hook for Thoi Singh and Raphael Augusto. Possibly, the most interesting change was the removal of Apoula Edel for Karanjit Singh.

FC Pune City’s team remains almost unchanged with the exception of the injured Lenny Rodriguez who would sit this one out for Manish Maithani. Jackichand Singh, Tuncay Sanli, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Didier Zokora, and Nicky Shorey getting a chance to continue their good form.

I have to say I have enjoyed how FC Pune City have been playing. They, I feel, have had a lot of variation in their attack and none of their strategies have been negative at all. They attack and they defend with class which is something that I’ve come to appreciate.

Chennaiyin FC, on the other hand, are an enigma. I think they’re an enigma to themselves as well to a point where they seem confused at times on the pitch. So, my prediction for this game is for FC Pune City to win by two goals to the 1 of Chennaiyin FC.

Chennaiyin FC Start With More Drive

FC Pune City - Steve Simonsen

FC Pune City – Steve Simonsen
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

The home team started the game on the front foot with Elano and Mendoza showing their almost telepathic understanding. Their interchange allowed Mendoza to get a shot off from outside the box. It wasn’t a bad effort but Steve Simonsen was more than a match for it. He not only saved it but held it too.

This action was followed by a bad decision from Manuele Blasi who came in late on Zokora and received a yellow card. My instant reaction was that that yellow card may cause Chennaiyin FC problems later.

In the sixth minute Simonsen saved his team when a short back pass from Gouramangi Singh was chased down by Elano. Fortunately, before the Brazilian could pull the trigger, Simonsen dived in and got the ball with his knee. It looked as if Chennaiyin FC wanted it more.

Chennaiyin FC Get a Great Chance

Chennaiyin FC - Elano BlumerThe 19th minute brought the most existing goal mouth action of the game. The cross came in from Chennaiyin FC’s left flank. It was plucked out of thin air by Elano who tried to poke it past Simonsen. However, the keeper was up to the task and parried the shot. The ball then fell to another Chennaiyin player who could only poke it wide of the post under pressure from the Pune defence.

The game, I felt, was being affected by a poor pitch. While the commentators were claiming that the pitch was watered, it didn’t look like it. There was something wrong with it because the ball was holding up on it. The passes were running short, the ball was wobbling while rolling, and the pitch was essentially looking woeful and very thick.

Chennaiyin FC Take an Overdue Lead

Chennaiyin FC - Bernard Mendy

Chennaiyin FC – Bernard Mendy
Credit: Pal Pillai/ ISL/ SPORTZPICS

The 28th minute saw another save from Simonsen. It was innocuous ball from Chennaiyin FC’s Mailson Alves from deep in his half. In fact, it was a clearance from the defender. The ball ended up dropping for Mendoza and freed him from the clutches of Pune defenders. He ran at the keeper but Simonsen again saved the shot.

Chennaiyin FC’s domination, however, bore fruit in the 34th minute. The goal was scored by Bernard Mendy from a long throw in. The ball dropped into the middle of the penalty box, Mendy ghosted in front of his marker and nodded the ball into the net. Despite the form of Simonsen, the English keeper couldn’t have done anything there. Chennaiyin FC 1 – 0 FC Pune City

Near the end of the half, Ravanan struck the ball goal wards when the ball fell for him from a Jackichand blocked shot. However, Singh stretched out a big hand and used his strong wrists to deflect the ball off the target. It was a brilliant save which kept Chennaiyin FC in the lead.

Chennaiyin FC Double the Lead in Second Half

Chennaiyin FC - Stiven Mendoza

Chennaiyin FC – Stiven Mendoza
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

In the second half, Mendoza doubled Chennaiyin FC’s lead on the back of poor play from FC Pune City. Pune lost the ball deep in their half to Elano who produced a wonderful slide rule pass for Mendoza behind the defence. Mendoza got free, rounded the keeper, and passed the ball into the net. Chennaiyin FC 2 – 0 FC Pune City

My prediction be damned. This match looked like it could turn into a rout for Chennaiyin FC.

After that goal Chennaiyin FC settled deep into their half. They were pressing and pushing FC Pune City well and every time they would get the ball they would try to launch a counterattack with pace and pinpoint passing.

FC Pune City Pull One Back

FC Pune City - Kalu UcheThe next notable moment in the game was the entry of Fikru and the exit of Mendoza.

However, that moment was nothing compared to FC Pune pulling one goal back. FC Pune City won a freekick on the right flank.

The freekick was taken by Dharmaraj Ravanan. The cross dropped on the head of Kalu Uche, who had earlier come on for Yendrick Ruiz earlier.

Uche’s header was saved by Singh but it dropped to Lyngdoh who made a hash of his swivel shot. Still, he knocked the ball to Uche again who made no mistake and slotted it in. Chennaiyin FC 2 – 1 FC Pune City

FC Pune Try to Level the Game

FC Pune City - Adrian MutuChennaiyin FC could’ve restored their two goal lead when Fikru got free behind the defence. He ran, received a lofted ball, and tried to slide it under the keeper but Simonsen again showed his class and stopped it.

FC Pune City could’ve gone level too when Jackichand Singh crossed the ball from their left flank. The cross was excellent and dropped onto the head of Adrian Mutu. Mutu’s header just missed the goal through deflection with the keeper floundering. Mutu got a header off from the resulting corner but again put the ball wide.

That would be the last significant chance for FC Pune City. Try as they might, they would not breakthrough or get another chance to do so.

Tactical Analysis: First Impressions + Projections

There wasn’t anything wrong with how the two managers setup tactically – even in the case of FC Pune City. The game was lost on the pitch simply because certain players played better than other players.

When FC Pune went behind first, they were still in the game but they didn’t play like that. For some reason, the first goal rattled FC Pune City enough to start giving the ball away at the drop of a hat. Still, they could’ve still turned it around if they had applied themselves.

The game was lost, however, when FC Pune City went down by two goals early in the second half. After that, they had to really push for their goals. More importantly, Chennaiyin FC were astute enough to know that they can sit back and use their pace to counter.

I think the pitch also affected FC Pune City’s game because their game depends on either quick passing or close control dribbling skills. A pitch where the ball holds up or wobbles isn’t ideal for FC Pune City. At the same time, it can be said that FC Pune City should know how to play in all conditions.

More importantly, they shouldn’t be waiting for the last 15 minutes to wake up and start playing. They shouldn’t be taking 75 minutes to get used to the pitch. So, well played Chennaiyin FC!

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