There is a thrilling match on cards as North East United FC host Delhi Dynamos in their final home match of the season, with The Highlanders desperate for 3 points in order to stay in contention for a a place in the semis.
North East return to their home after their hard fought draw against reigning champions Chennaiyin FC. The Highlanders had to wait till 97th minute when leftback Shouvik Ghosh, the most unlikely of sources came up with a bullet header from Nico Velez’s corner. On the other hand the Delhi Dynamos who are already through to the semis,have been flying high off late and their star man Marcelinho has been right in the thick of all the action. The Brazilian bagged a hattrick and set up one for his teammate Richard Gadze, who scored a brace himself, as the side came back from a goal down to score five against FC Goa.
North East United FC
The Highlanders had set off to a flying start to their season and were on top of the table for a quite a long time, but a string of four consecutive losses mid season put their dreams of doing another Leicester City to an abrupt halt. They have plenty of options that provide them with the pace going forward in Nico Velez and Emiliano Alfaro, but it’s a leaky defence which is their main cause for concern. The Highlanders have managed to score 12 and have conceded 12 in their 12 matches so far. A lead lost has been a common story for them throughout the season and it has been a key reason behind their drastic fall. Goalkeeping has been an issue with the coach. Forced to rest the injured Subrata Paul time and time again, replacement TP Rehenesh, who was all the rage in the last two seasons hasn’t looked all that confident this time around. Vingada will have to balance out his selections for the match, with both N’dri and Velez a card away from suspension resulting them in missing their crucial final match in the league stage. Though, the return of Rowlin Borges after serving a match suspension would be a boost in the Portuguese’s midfield plans, if he decides to drop N’dri from the starting eleven. Unbeaten in their last three and with three points an absolute necessity, North East United can be expected to be going all guns blazing for this crucial encounter.
Predicted Lineup : Rehenesh;Ghosh, Lazzaretti,Wellington,R.Singh; Zokora,Borges,Katsumi,Velez,Seityasen; Alvarez
Delhi Dynamos will go into the game with the comfort of knowing that they have qualified for the playoff legs for the first time in the Indian Super League. After their 5-1 mauling of bottom outfit FC Goa, it was results elsewhere in Kolkata that turned out to be in their favour as the made it through to the next stage with 2 games to spare. Delhi have been among the goals throughout the season. The Lions have 20 points from their 12 matches with the league high goal difference of 11. They have scored 26 goals so far with their star man and league’s leading goal scorer, Marcelinho bagging eight and his strike partner Richard Gadze in second place with five goals. The appointment of former Barcelona and Italy man Gianluca Zambrotta as their head coach, seemed to have been a very good decision. He brought in a discipline in the side, with the players playing some eye catching football. The Italian focused on spending on quality Indian talents to compliment his international stars and it has been a masterstroke. The players seem to have adapted well to the coach’s tactics and strategies, and both the Indian and the international players seem to make the most of every opportunity they get. One such instance has been Mohun Bagan man Kean Lewis, who has been a revelation for the Dynamos this season. Lewis with Blasters’ forward CK Vineeth as the top Indian goal scorer with four goals. Delhi will be buzzing from their huge victory in their last match and even with qualification already in the bag, they’ll look to finish as high as possible.
Predicted Lineup : Doblas; Anas,Addy,Rocha,Chakraborty; Malouda,Devdas,Singh; Lewis,Marcelinho,Gadze.
The previous encounter between these two sides ended in a 1-1 draw, but with the stakes higher this time around, this has all the makings of a thriller with plenty of goals in the cards. The Hard Tackle predicts North East United to edge it 3-2.