Efficient FCPC Put Goa to the Sword: FC Goa 0 – 2 FC Pune City Review

One-Trick Pony FC Goa Lose Because of No Plan B

A high flying team was brought down to Earth yesterday and a blogger humbled. The high flying team was FC Goa, the blogger yours truly. The deliverer of this grounding and humbling was, of course, FC Pune. Here’s the thing though. The high flying team still remains in the best position in the league and the blogger only mortified. Both have a way to go before being counted out completely. Continue reading

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The Indian Rojiblancos vs. The Stallions Preview

Will the Stallions Herd One Last Time or Will the Bucks Be Broken?

The Indian Rojiblancos will welcome The Stallions into their home at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata in a match that doesn’t have a lot of significance for the visitors.

The Stallions have let slip the chance to participate in the playoffs stage of the Indian Super League in the last few games. In contrast, the Indian Rojiblancos have already clinched their semi-final berth and all that needs to be decided is which spot they’ll occupy. Continue reading

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KBFC vs. FCPC Preview

Two Teams in Dire Need to Bounce Back

Habas and his team FC Pune City will visit Coppell and his Kerala Blasters FC, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. This is a very crucial game for KBFC and FCPC both since each of them is in need of a significant bounce-back.

There is a lot of similarity between the two teams. Both of them are on 15 points and are separated only by goal difference. Both of them are within touching distance of a semi-finals birth. Both of them have gone through poor stretches of results before turning things around with back to back wins. Moreover, both teams suffered in their respective last games in different ways, so it will be interesting to see which of them shows the most character and spirit.

KBFC’s Form & Strategy

ck-vineeth-kbfcKBFC’s last game was a disaster. They went down two goals early in the first half to Diego Forlan. As they tried to regain parity with attacking football, they were put to the sword by Mumbai City FC. They lost that game 5 – 0. Irrespective of what anyone says, their last game will have had a huge impact on their morale which, in turn, would influence this game significantly.

After all, before their last game, KBFC were the most defensively sound team in the league. That game took them from the least conceding team in the league to an average team. Since their entire style of play is based on defence, the thumping they got in their last game would’ve affected them severely. In fact, the resounding dent to their morale will most likely result in Coppell setting them out even more defensively in this game against FCPC.

For example, if they don’t have their defence to rely on, they have nothing because they’re one of the lowest scorers in the league with only 9 goals from 11 games. The only silver lining in that dark cloud of despair will be CK Vineeth who has scored 3 goals in 3 games.

FCPC’s Form & Strategy

mohamed-sissoko-fcpcFortunately for KBFC, FCPC is in the same boat. For FCPC, the lack of morale will come from having lost their last game in the dying minutes to a stoppage time goal. Still, FCPC would be hurting far less than KBFC simply because they can rely on their standout performers.

Of these, Mohamed Sissoko, their marquee signing, will be the most crucial. Sissoko is renowned for his physical, tough-tackling style of play and has exhibited the same by being amongst the top 3 tacklers in the league. However, Sissoko has shown another aspect of his game this season too. He happens to be the second most proficient passer in the league.

In addition to Sissoko, FCPC will be able to rely on Anibal Zurdo Rodriguez, who happens to have scored only one goal fewer than the league leaders. Rodriguez has scored 4 goals.

Will It Be The Tuskers Or The Stallions That Stampede?

Even though FCPC has attacking potential, you can expect them to set out their stall to not concede. This is their usual strategy for away games. We expect them to maintain the status quo and not change something that has worked for them in the majority of situations.

So, that shows us that KBFC and FCPC both will be defensive in this game. They will play conservatively and avoid taking risks. Neither of these teams has the kind of player that can generate a moment of pure magic too. This means that this match will decidedly be a drab affair. Thus, our prediction for this game is a drab, goalless draw.

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FC Pune City vs. Northeast United FC Preview

Aggression vs. Finesse

FC Pune City will look to pile on the misery on NorthEast United FC as the Stallions host the Highlanders at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium. The matchup between these two teams is billed to be one where physical aggression is pitted against passing finesse.

NorthEast United FC’s Form & Strategy

didier-zokora-northeast-united-fcNorthEast United FC’s Nelo Vingada likes his team to pass the ball around on the deck before releasing the defence-splitting through balls. The Highlanders are fairly consistent in their formation, relying on 4-5-1 heavily. Even though they use a five-man midfield, they do tend to tweak within that formation to account for opponent’s capabilities. They switch between 4-1-2-2-1 with wide wingers for opponents that are dangerous on the attack and 4-2-1-2-1 with tucked in wingers for opponents that are defensively proficient.

The Highlanders started the Indian Super League season 2 in a rich vein of form, taking down FC Goa (2 – 0) and Kerala Blasters FC (1 – 0) but have since stumbled in their first away game at Mumbai City FC. Having said that, it is important to note that NorthEast United FC gave a good account of themselves in their last match, despite the 1 – 0 score line.

That single goal was a result of an unforced error by their marquee player Didier Zokora in the form of a poor cross-field pass over the penalty box. The poor pass resulted in the penalty that was converted. For this reason, it would be interesting to see if Mailson Alves, their primary defender, will return from injury to face FC Pune City or if Zokora will continue in defence.

FC Pune City’s Form & Strategy

mohamed-sissoko-fc-pune-cityFC Pune City started the season poorly with a home loss (0 – 1) to their derby rivals Mumbai City FC. However, they turned things around in their last game away to FC Goa by stealing the game in the 90th minute. They won with a score line of 1 – 2 and the 90th-minute goal is bound to have left them in very high spirits coming into this game. Effectively, while the Stallions will be raring to go, the Highlanders will have to pick themselves up.

The home team has the potential to mix things up with respect to their formation. In the first game, FC Pune City set out in the 4-2-3-1 formation, while in the second they played in the traditional 4-5-1 formation. There will be a notable difference in style between these two teams because FC Pune City’s manager Antonio Habas likes a tough game.

He prefers a battling style of play with a lot of physicality, something that is reflected in his marquee signing Mohamed Sissoko. Sissoko really threw himself around in the last game but got away with it. If he continues this style of play, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he receives his marching orders or, at the very least, a yellow card.

How Will the Cookie Crumble?

The result of this game will rest on which style of play comes out on top – the passing game or the physical game. Key players for both teams will be playing in the same positions i.e. the roving playmaker, defensive midfielder, and the goalkeeper. For the Highlanders, performances of Nicolas Velez and Borges will be the key since Subrata Paul, their keeper is certain to be stable and reliable considering his form. On the other side, The Stallions will rely on their playmaker, Jonatan Lucca, their keeper, Apoula Edima Edel Bete, and their defensive midfielder Sissoko.

The two teams can be said to be equally matched, so a scoring draw (1 – 1) will be the most likely result. However, if you were to be brave, a small punt towards a home win with a score line of 1 – 0 wouldn’t be all that amiss. A long shot would be to put money on Lucca to score; he’s in very good form.

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FC Pune City vs. Atletico Kolkata Review: FCPC Beat ATK; Top League

FCPC vs. ATK

So, you’ll be getting a downsized review of the match between FCPC and ATK today. The reason is that a moped driving ATK fan (I am guessing an ATK fan since it was in a Bengali dominated neighbourhood in Delhi) ran into my tank of a bike today. I mean my bike didn’t even wobble and all I did was lifted up my left leg to allow the speeding “mopeder” hit my gear lever.

The guy fell so I had to stop or it would’ve been hit and run except that I was hit and I would’ve run. By the way, in case you’re wondering, my “tank of a bike” is a Pulsar 200. What can I say, when you go against a moped, every bike is a tank of a bike, even a Boxer.

As for those of you who are whiny and have a self-entitled attitude, please feel free to complain to the ISL Blog customer service centre against this humble blogger. I agree with you by the way. Today’s amateur bloggers are virtually useless. They disappear when they want, have battles with mopeds whenever they want. I mean you must want your money back… oops. Well, complain anyway, maybe you’ll get 100% refund!

ATK Were Already Down To FCPC

FCPC - Jackichand Singh

FCPC – Jackichand Singh
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

By the time I sat down, six minutes were already over so there won’t be any team news today except whatever I deign to mention during the rest of the report.

You can take this up with the ISL Blog customer service centre too.

More importantly, by the time I started watching, ATK were already a goal down.

From what I heard from the commentators, it was a special goal from Jackichand Singh. I promptly went and checked the replays and found that the finish was very sweet.

The ball came to Jackichand who finished it well first time itself. He came in running off the shoulder of the last defender and hit the ball with his left leg across the goalkeeper into the far corner of the goal. FCPC 1 – 0 ATK

FCPC Run Rampant Over ATK

FCPC - Yendrick Ruiz

FCPC – Yendrick Ruiz
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

From the time I joined the country in watching this match, I saw FCPC in the ascendancy but at the same time, ATK weren’t looking fazed.

FCPC were rampant for the next 15 minutes but ATK looked very mature to me in the way they were handling the pressure.

The moment I wrote that, ATK started playing like schoolboys. First, Borja Fernandez took out Tuncay just inside the box which should’ve been a penalty.

That was followed by a FCPC double chance.

FCPC countered with Sanli Tuncay showing some great skill on the ball. He crossed the ball from the right to Yendrick Ruiz who nodded the ball goalwards from point-blank range. His header, however, was blocked off by a defender. The ball then fell to Jackichand also in point-blank range. He also headed the ball goalwards but it was against blocked by a defender with his chin.

The Game Gets Disrupted

FCPC - Sanli Tuncay

FCPC – Sanli Tuncay
Credit: Pal Pillai / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

The game got disrupted after that period of FCPC domination.

It began with Lenny Rodriguez getting injured and substituted for Bikash Jairu.

This was followed by a period with constant possession changes and breakup in play.

ATK seemed to be targetting Tuncay particularly too.

Even so, both teams were guilty of fouling pointlessly but I think that strategy was more in favour of FCPC than ATK. ATK needed momentum while FCPC needed disruption. I wonder why ATK were doing that.

Could it be a natural reversion to type? In fact, the evidence was all over the game. Despite the disruptions, FCPC’s attacks were more potent. There was only one good chance of note from ATK in that period and that too was a snapshot from a very acute angle.

Strange Tactical Decision From Habas Begins Second Half

ATK - Jaime Gavilan

ATK – Jaime Gavilan

The second half began with a substitution from Habas the Henchman. He took off Javier Lara, who had an indifferent first half, and brought on Jaime Gavilan. Look, I don’t know how Gavilan all that well.

What I do know is that he is more of a complete midfielder as opposed to Lara who is an out and out attacking midfielder.

I think Habas felt that his team were losing the game in the midfield so he tried to fortify the middle of the pitch. However, in my eyes, it didn’t make jack of a different.

For a good part of the early second half, FCPC were all over the ATK half. They were attacking from all possible directions.

In fact, ATK were having trouble getting out of their half and hacking the ball out doesn’t count!

Broken Open Play With Multiple Fouls And Substitutions

ATK - Sameehg Doutie

ATK – Sameehg Doutie
Credit: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

15 minutes into the second half and with FCPC still dominating, Jackichand started struggling on the pitch.

FCPC put Manish Maithani on for their goal scorer.

This must’ve been a shot in the arm for ATK because they no longer had to worry about the effervescent pace of Jackichand.

ATK made their change at the same time as well.

Whether the change was due to the removal of Jackichand making ATK more confident or it was part of the tactical plan is up to you to decide.

ATK brought on Sameehg Doutie, an attacking player, and took off Ofentse Nato, a defensive player. That substitution was followed by the entrance of Sushil Kumar Singh for Nadong Bhutia.

A Rare Chance For Hume And ATK

ATK - Iain Hume

ATK – Iain Hume

There was a good chance for Iain Hume, probably his first, in the 80th minute. It was an acute angle but it was still the best chance ATK had had till then.

Hume received the ball inside the box on the right from an even more right sided player, Doutie. He got a shot off and tried to squeeze the ball under the keeper but Steve Simonsen’s knee blocked it.

FCPC continued their onslaught with Lyngdoh’s freekicks continuing to cause ATK trouble.

Lyngdoh dropped the ball into the middle of the box onto the head of Adrian Mutu (who had come on earlier). However, Mutu could only head the ball over the crossbar.

A similar chance fell to Borja in the 90th minute from a corner. Borja put the free header over the crossbar a la Mutu.

Tactical Analysis: First Impressions + Projections

Habas the Henchman gave too much respect to FCPC. I think a very subtle thread of fear took hold of ATK even before they came to Pune because they didn’t play with any freedom at all. Their game play was almost always cautious. When that happens, the passing becomes slower, more deliberate, and hence less effective.

What that does is dries up the supply for the striker. When the passing is slow, the defence finds it easier to make interceptions and players are not encouraged to move into open positions and tactical holes. As a result, the defence is never pressured. You tell me, how many good chances did ATK have in that game?

How do I know that ATK showed too much respect to FCPC? Well, you don’t play two defensive minded midfielders if you’re not scared of the other team. ATK played Borja and Nato both in the same midfield. Is it a wonder that Iain Hume got no service whatsoever from ATK midfield?

On top of this, Habas the Henchman decided to take off an attacker for a slightly less attacking midfielder. Then, he kept Adil Nabi off and brought on Sushil Kumar Singh and Doutie. Even after those substitutions, you could see ATK passing the ball side to side but when they passed it forward, turnovers were the result.

FCPC won because of three players. Jackichand Singh because of his pace and trickery. Those skills made are partly the reason why ATK deployed two defensive midfielders. The second player was Sanli Tuncay. Tuncay’s skills include heading, tenaciousness, and trickery with the ball. He was another reason for the two defensive midfielders.

Finally, the third player was Didier Zokora who gave FCPC’s defence backbone and gumption. Even in the 94th minute, it was Zokora who was clearing crosses and harassing passers. Another player who deserves a mention here is Eugeneson Lyngdoh, whose set piece skills are truly marvellous.

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