Zico’ s FC Goa Win The Battle of The Bottom Placed Sides
Both teams came into this match knowing that they needed to have a win under their belt. As it turned out, Zico won his first ever ISL game against Antonio Habas’ side, and jumped from 8th to 7th spot, pushing FC Pune City at the bottom. Rafael Coelcho scored the all important goal of the night for the visitors in the 32nd minute with a delightful free-kick. While Goa were the better side in the first half, Pune did create a few openings but were unable to convert them. In the second half, FC Pune City were the dominant side chasing the goal, but it never came as Goa managed to hold on for their second win of the season.
Zico preferred to strengthen the midfield with three foreign players, with Robin Singh and Sanjay also returning to the side. The visitors, desperate for a win, looked bright at the the start and fashioned an opening in the 10th minute but Joffre could not score. The midfielder won a free-kick a few minutes later, and Rafael delightfully curled it into FC Pune City’s net. Goa had a couple of good chances in the second half, but Rafael and Joffre were both guilty of putting away easy chances.
As for the hosts, it was a performance that Habas wouldn’t be too unhappy with. They responded well to the goal and created a chance just before halftime, when Lucca dribbled his way through five players but his shot was well saved by Kattimani. Mohamed Sakho, Pune’s marquee player was sliding a few gorgeous through balls to the front men, but it just wasn’t working out for them in the final third. FC Pune City haven’t made the playoffs so far in the ISL, and if that has to change, the Hrithik Roshan-owned team must improve their performances.
Delhi Dynamos Host Kerala Blasters
The ISL has reached the halfway stage and that has to be a wake-up call for all teams. This is where teams have put their foot wrong in the previous seasons, resulting in missing out on a playoff spot. With matches coming thick and fast, injuries are always and concern and as Marco Matterazzi said after the 1-1 draw against FC Pune City a few days ago, the team with less number of injuries could emerge victorious.
Team news and Tactics
The Capital side are yet to win a match at home this season having drawn all of their three. But with 10 goals by their attacking players ( most by any side’s strike force ), Zambrotta will be confident of breaking the duck when they face Kerala Blasters at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium on Friday. It promises to be a juicy encounter, as Kerala have the best defensive record this season while Delhi’s attack has been tormenting teams. Delhi have pace on the wings with the likes of Kean Lewis and Marcelinho, and Richard Gadze has been unerring in front of goal.
Florent Malouda, the ex-Chelsea man signed as the marquee player for the season in a row has been rolling back the years in the last couple of games. Delhi will lineup with their lethal 4-3-3 attacking combination. While the attack has been doing it’s job very well, 19-year old right-back Konsham was the star performer in their 2-0 win against FC Goa. Should Delhi improve their defending, they would most certainly be good enough to grab one of the playoff positions as we enter the business end of the campaign.
With nine points off seven matches, this is Kerala Blasters’ best start to an ISL campaign. The South Indians are also on a six game unbeaten run and avoiding defeat tonight would mean it will be their best ever run in the ISL. While scoring goals has been as issue for Kerala, Steve Coppell believes that the front-line will come good at the right time. Like Delhi, one aspect ( defense ) of Kerala’s game has been great this season, however, Rafi and co. must pull their socks up to make it to the last four.
In the first season, Kerala scored nine goals and reached the final. Last season, they scored 20 and finished at the bottom. Statistics can be deceiving at times. Michael Chopra has been misfiring although his goal won them the three points against Mumbai City FC, and Rafi and Rafique have also been quite mediocre up until this stage. Kerala are expected to line up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation which has enabled them to maintain the best defensive record in the league, with Azrack and Hossain providing the extra protection to the back four. All eyes however, will be on the front four, as Kerala look to grab three crucial away points that will take them into the top four of the table for the first time this season.
Probable IX: Nandy, Hughes, Hengbart, Josu, Jhingan, Azrack, Hossain, Chopra, Rafique, German, Rafi
Delhi Dynamos 1-0 Kerala Blasters
As the best attack and best defense in the league go head to head on Friday, it promises to be a proper tactical battle between two well-organised sides. Delhi are expected to have most of the position, while Kerala will look to hit the hosts on the break. Keeping the statistics of this season in mind, Delhi could just edge Kerala in this outing as their attack might be too hot to handle even for Kerala.