Fatorda Stadium, Goa
20 December, 2015
The second season of Indian Super League has reached its climax and the finals at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa pits hosts FC Goa against Chennaiyin FC. Both teams suffered heartbreaks in the semifinals last season and having gone one step better this season, would be eyeing the crown. A packed stadium is expected in the football crazy state of Goa which should make it a memorable experience for both the players as well as the viewers across the world.
Team News & Tactical Brief
The Guars under Zico made short work of Delhi Dynamos in front of a their faithfuls and managed to overturn the 1-0 deficit they had coming into the match. FC Goa are a well-oiled machine and Zico has rotated his squad flexibility according to the availability of players and the strength of the oppositions. FC Goa have played different formations this season ; 4-4-2, 4-3-2-1, 3-5-2, 5-3-2 but it seems that just like the game against Delhi, Zico will go in with a 3-1-4-2 formation.
FC Goa captain Lucio has been a pillar in defense for the Guars and the Brazilian legend will be tasked with the role of marking Stiven Mendoza who is the highest goal-scorer in the Indian Super League this season. The 36-year-old Lucio has lost undoubtedly lost some pace but still has made the most interceptions this season and will have to be on his toes against the wily Mendoza.
Lucio will be partnered in the defense by 35-year-old Gr gory Arnolin, the only foreign player retained from last season by FC Goa. Gregory has been a regular name on FC Goa’ s team sheet this season and along with Lucio dished out a fine performance in the second leg of the semifinals. After a listless performance in the first leg, Pronay Halder had a much improved performance in the second and even notched up an assist. Laxmikant Kattimani has been FC Goa’ s first choice keeper this season and should continue under the bar once again.
Bikrmajit Singh is expected to start in front of the back three and will be entrusted with the important task of marking Elano. Bikramjit has earned praise from Zico for his work rate and will have to be at his best to mark down Chennaiyin’ s marquee player.
The Goan duo of Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Rao Desai will start on the right and the left wings and will look to stretch the game from the wide positions. The duo have between them five goals and three assists and have played a key role in ensuring Goa’ s passage to the the finals. The midfield will by led by the duo of Jofre and Leo Moura.
The 36-year-old Leo Moura has spent the most time on the field for FC Goa and has notched up eight assists so far – joint highest in the second season of Indian Super League. Jofre who scored FC Goa’ s first goal against Delhi Dynamos, has three goals and four assists to his name. He is expected to start in the playmaker role just behind the two strikers and create opportunities for them. Jonatan Lucca may be used by Zico in case Jofre or Leo Moura fail to make an impact.
Rafael Coelho and Dudu Omagbemi were on target in FC Goa’ s 3-0 win over Delhi Dynamos and both men should start upfront for FC Goa in the finals. Both players joined FC Goa midway during the season and have revitalised the Gaur’s attack which was lacking the punch in the earlier half.
Probable Starting XI (3-1-4-2): Kattimani; Pronay, Lucio, Gregory; Bikrmajit; Mandar, Leo, Joffre, Romeo; Rafael, Dudu.
The Super Machans under the guidance of Marco Materazzi have reached the finals at the expense of defending champions Atletico de Kolkata despite playing their home match in Pune. Chennaiyin FC will take confidence from their performances in the second half of the season where they won four straight games to reach the playoffs despite being at the bottom of the table during the league. Chennaiyin one must also remember beating FC Goa 4-0 at Fartorda earlier in the season.
Unlike their counterparts who have scored most number of goals, Chennaiyin FC have conceded the least number of goals this season. A bit credit for this goes to their custodian Apoula Edel Bete who has to his credit six clean sheets – the most by any keeper in the second season of Indian Super League.
The defense will be led by former French international Bernard Mendy who has been a rock in the defense for Chennaiyin FC. Mendy in addition has two goals to his name, and is a real threat from the set pieces. Ma lson Alves is expected to start alongside Mendy in the central defense and the duo will be entrusted with the task of keeping Rafael and Dudu under check.
Mehrajuddin Wadoo has been used in the right back position by Materazzi this season and the Jammu & Kashmir player has earned lot of praise for his performance at that position. Dhanachandra Singh is expected to lineup on the left side on the defense. Materazzi is expected to adopt a safety-first approach and will expect his defenders to keep a tight leash at the back.
The biggest headache however for Materazzi is to decide between Elano and Bruno Pelissari in the midfield. Elano is the marquee player and he started the season with a bang but has lost his form as the season has progressed. Pelissari on the other hand is currently the player in form and played a key role in Chennaiyin’ s 3-0 win over Atletico in the first leg of the semifinals.
With 67 tackles and 25 interceptions, Thoi Singh has displayed why he is one of the most hardworking players in Indian Football at the moment. The Benglauru FC midfielder will be seen on the right side of the midfield for the Super Machans. Despite picking up two red cards, Harmanjot Khabra stays a vital cog in the Materazzi’ s setup and the East Bengal midfielder will be entrusted with the task of breaking down FC Goa’ s attacks.
With Raphael Augusto highly likely to miss the game, former Italian midfielder Manuele Blasi is expected to complete the four man midfield for Chennaiyin FC and like Khabra, will be tasked with the duty of keeping Jofre and Moura under check.
With 12 goals in the Indian Super League, Stiven Mendoza will spearhead the attack for Chennaiyin FC and one doesn’t need to write about how crucial the Colombian has been for his side this season. With six goals to his name Indian striker Jeje is likely to play alongside him in a 4-4-2 formation.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-2): Edel; Dhana, Mendy, Mailson, Wadoo; Pelisari, Khabra, Blasi, Thoi; Jeje, Mendoza.
Lucio (FC Goa)
A lot has been said about Jofre and Moura and how they have led Goa to the finals but World Cup winner Lucio has been a silent performer for FC Goa this season. With Goa set to be the more attacking of the two sides, Lucio’ s role will be even more important given that FC Goa are expected to play with three men at the back.
Stiven Mendoza (Chennaiyin FC)
Twelve goals and three assists don’t still underline how important Mendoza has been for the Super Machans this season. Mendoza has single handedly carried the team to the finals and if he can display the form that he has so far then Chennaiyin FC will fancy their chances of winning the crown.
FC Goa 2-1 Chennaiyin FC
FC Goa start as favorites to win the second season of the Indian Super League primarily due to Zico’ s presence in the dugout which hands Guars a definitive advantage as his tactical acumen could prove to be the difference in this match between two well settled teams. In addition, a vociferous crowd is expected to gather at the Fatorda stadium to cheer the Guars and the crowd support is expected to lead FC Goa to a well deserved victory.
Image Courtesy: ISL Media Team