Oh, how far the mighty have fallen..
You remember how Atletico De Kolkata were conquering everyone in the first half of the Indian Super League?
You remember how they were considered by everyone to be the heavyweights in the league with all their resources?
Well, the last few matches have been a rude awakening for them. They currently sit in 4th position by virtue of GD and need to keep that GD intact to make it through to the playoffs.
FC Goa’s Supreme Form
And who do they have to do it against? Why, the current all-conquering heroes of the league – FC Goa.
FC Goa have won 5 out of their last 6 games. In that period, FC Goa have scored a whopping 15 goals and let in only 2.
This shows the kind of supreme form FC Goa have been in. While Andre Santos and Romeo Fernandes will take all the plaudits in the media and they’re worth all of it, the whole team has contributed to their great form.
Everything has clicked for them. Santos and Rome represent the attacking side but their defence has been unshakeable too. Their back 5 of Narayan Das, Bruno Pinheiro, Gregory Arnolin, Debabrata Roy, and Jan Seda have calmly dealt with all kinds of attacks from all kinds of teams.
They didn’t even look hard-pressed. 3 of their wins have come with a margin of +3 goals while the other 2 have come with a margin of +2 goals. If that’s not a comfortable and solid win, I don’t know what is.
They’re the favourites for this game. I don’t care if they’re not at home. I only care if they’re interested in the game. If they’re interested enough then Atletico De Kolkata will have trouble. Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the commentator’s curse.
Atletico De Kolkata’s… Ahem… Form
Would you like FC Goa’s form to be compared to Atletico De Kolkata’s form (if that’s what their sorry string of results can be called)? I’d be happy to oblige. Kolkata have won 1 game in their last 9! In that period they’ve scored 5 goals and let in 10! Tell me that’s not pathetic.
Compare that to their form in the preceding 4 games. In their 1st 4 games, Atletico De Kolkata scored 10 goals and let in 2 goals. See the full reversal? Can you believe it with such facts in front of your eyes? I have trouble doing it and I’m writing this preview. Makes me think of that famous Joker dialogue from The Dark Knight.
Delhi Dynamos FC’s Stake In The Game
It’s this run of form which has put Atletico De Kolkata in the position that they’re currently in. Overall, they’ve scored 15 goals and let in 12 which means their GD is 3.
Their rivals for the 4th spot are Delhi Dynamos FC who’ve scored 16 goals and let in 14 which means a GD of 2. One short of Kolkata’s.
What does this mean? Delhi Dynamos FC want FC Goa to thrash Atletico De Kolkata. Failing that, they’ll settle for a one-nil win for Goa.
A one-nil win will reduce Kolkata’s GD to 2 just like Delhi’s. But Delhi would go through to the playoffs because they would’ve scored one more goal than Atletico De Kolkata.
The Twilight Zone Situation
There’s another situation which I don’t know what to make of because I can’t find the detailed rulebook for the Indian Super League. In this situation, Atletico De Kolkata lose 1-2 to FC Goa. This would take their GD to 2, like Delhi’s but the goals scored will be the same for both teams.
The best that I’ve been able to find is that in ISL the order of importance is this:
Points >> GD >> Goals Scored.
If the goals scored are the same, I don’t know what is counted then. My guess would be a head to head. That’s usually how the cookie crumbles. Even if I’m right with my guess, it doesn’t solve the situation because Atletico De Kolkata and Delhi Dynamos FC drew both their matches.
The one in Kolkata was a 1-1 draw while the other one was a 0-0 draw. So no cigar with the head to head either unless away goals are counted. If they are, then Delhi go through in this twilight zone situation.
In any case, if any of you know what happens in the scenario I described above, would you kindly let me know? Comment or contact me through the Contact page.
FC Goa’s Side of the Equation?
FC Goa is in a very interesting position. They can actually choose to play Delhi Dynamos FC by beating Atletico De Kolkata.
If they beat Kolkata, they go top of the league and Delhi Dynamos FC qualify in place of Atletico De Kolkata. This means that FC Goa would meet Delhi Dynamos FC in the semi-finals.
However, just because FC Goa have won handsomely till now is no guarantee that they’ll continue doing so.
If they lose or draw this game then they remain in the 2nd spot, Atletico De Kolkata finalise their qualification and confirm their meeting with Goa in the semis by taking the 3rd spot.
The point is that anything but a win would see Goa meet Kolkata in the semis.
What Do The Coaches Say?
The head coaches of both teams answer some of the questions I’ve posed in this blog. No, I didn’t read what they said before writing this one. It’s just a coincidence.
Habas the Henchman of Atletico De Kolkata talked about his side’s form and tried to make it seem much less severe than it actually is. He was trying to be positive I guess but his statements seemed forced and it was visible.
He even went as far as to say that he won’t change the way his team plays. I don’t know how honest he was being there because he could just be trying to not reveal his strategy.
We are there, we are very close to our target of going to the semi-finals, we are not worried about the past, and we are just focusing on tomorrow… We are not changing our style, we always play the same and we will have a plan to beat Goa tomorrow.
Zico of FC Goa was all praise for his team and he has a right to be. They’ve managed to turn around a season that was all but gone for them. He was actually even asked by the journos which team he preferred to face tomorrow.
Needless to say, a simple question like that won’t draw the wily old manager into a politically incorrect answer. Besides, you have to consider the psychology of the thing too.
It is one of the greatest moments of my career. From being at the bottom of the table to reaching the semi-finals with a match to spare is not easy… We don’t have to choose anyone, we came here, we have qualified, and we are ready to face anyone.
I don’t know what kind of team either of the managers will play. Zico may try to protect his players before the game and wrap them up in wool for the semis or he may send them out to maintain momentum.
Habas the Henchman has options too. He could just choose to continue with the same team or change his starting line-up and strategy because the existing one is clearly not working.
I think Atletico De Kolkata will try to physically intimidate FC Goa in this game. I expect them to put in some crunching tackles to unnerve the Goan players. There could be a sending off in the offing too. What you can be sure of though is that there will be goals, regardless of what kind of teams are put out.