14:30 GMT, Wednesday 21st February, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Goa, India), Sab TV UK
FC Goa are undergoing a sudden downturn of form as they find themselves winless in four consecutive games. In a bid to refresh their playoff chances, they’ll host Delhi Dynamos on Wednesday, who come into the fixture off the back of a victory.
Miguel Angel Portugal is the only coach in the bottom three who hasn’t been replaced this season. Despite their poor results, Delhi have seen an upturn in performance of late, making a match of each of the last four fixtures.
While any chance for a playoff spot is out of the question, they still have enough poison to upset the big dogs and their attacking play will make for an interesting watch against the Gaurs.
FC Goa slumped to their third defeat in four games against Chennaiyin on Sunday, as their hopes for a playoff spot becomes more distant.
Having started the season in blistering form, they have now failed to score in any of their last two matches. In comparison, they managed 29 goals in the 12 games before these last two matches.
Last Time Out
FC Goa 0-1 Chennaiyin FC (Indian Super League)
This was an uncharacteristic display from FC Goa, who failed to dominate the match and fell to their second consecutive defeat. A team who previously had all the luck in front of the goal seemed suddenly devoid of it, hitting the woodwork three times during the match.
Stranger still was Ferran Corominas’s flick in the dying minutes which failed to find a Chennaiyin defender but bounced across the face of the goal, inches away from the line, before running out for a goal-kick.
Early on, the Gaurs failed to keep hold of their midfield as the Super Machans, made sure that they restricted the home side inside their 18-yard-box.
Despite the barrage of shots, they could only break-through in the 52nd minute from a scramble in the box, followed by a tap-in by Inigo Calderon.
For a team who were in fine scoring form before this game, Goa could only manage four shots on goal against Chennaiyin, suggesting that the only thing that gave Goa a chance for the title is now absent.
NorthEast United 0-1 Delhi Dynamos FC (Indian Super League)
The Dynamos started the match with their highest goal-scorer this season, Kalu Uche, on the bench.
The home side dominated most portions of the match and had the best chances in the game but their lack of a quality finisher in the final third returned to haunt them.
Strangely, despite having two attacking sides in the game, only four shots on target was registered in total, with the two teams getting an equal share.
The Dynamos kept most of the ball, as they looked to build attacks, but the Highlanders fast counter-attacking game, often found the Dynamos out of position, leaving acres of space for the home team to move into.
Thankfully, Portugal’s changes in the second half saw Manuel Arana being replaced with Kalu Uche, who scored the only goal of the match with a header on David Ngaihte’s cross from the sidelines.
FC Goa Lineup
Sergio Lobera had fielded their best starting eleven in the match against Chennaiyin and is likely to persist with the same lineup given the importance of this match.
Delhi Dynamos Lineup
The Dynamos are likely to bring in Kalu Uche back in the starting eleven with Lallianzuala Chhangte and Romeo Fernandes on either flank. Paulinho Dias will also be likely to return to the midfield.
Key Battle: Ferran Corominas (FC Goa) vs Kalu Uche (Delhi Dynamos FC)
Ferran Corominas last scored against NorthEast United and has been on a barren run of sorts since then.
His off-the-ball movement and intelligence have been one of the best, if not the best in the league, getting him 13 goals in 14 appearances.
Additionally, his link-up play with Manuel Lanzarote and Mandar Rao Desai has seen him create three goals by way of assists as well.
If the Gaurs are to return to winning ways, they need ‘Coro’ back in form.
Like Goa, the Dynamos are primarily dependent on their number nine to bring in the goals and, while Kalu Uche has not been as prolific as Coro, he still has delivered a respectable return, banging in seven goals in 11 appearances.
He made an immediate impact against NorthEast, as he came off the bench to score the decider and will be responsible to take Dynamos past Goa this Wednesday.
Goa’s attacking impetus slowing down
The Gaurs’ attack this season has seen them being compared to the likes of Barcelona, courtesy of the playing style and philosophy brought in by former Barca B coach Sergio Lobera.
This philosophy allowed the team to dominate the scoresheet in the majority of their first 12 matches. The attacking trio of Corominas, Mandar Rao Desai and Manuel Lanzarote scored 23 of the 29 goals scored by the Gaurs.
The fact that they have now gone two matches without scoring a single goal, cannot bode well for their playoff ambitions, especially considering that they have one of the most fragile defences in the league.
The Dynamos are scrappy but can still cause an upset
They may be bolted to the bottom of the table but the Dynamos have improved their performances off late.
The team generally has been lacking in confidence and, while there are a few promising talents in the squad, a lack of consistency has led the team to fluff their momentum whenever they have managed to create any.
However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Nandakumar Sekar, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Romeo Fernandes are all capable of creating a counter-attack at break-neck speeds which can very easily dissect the Goan defence.
Prediction: FC Goa 1-0 Delhi Dynamos FC
While Goa might be going through a downturn of form, the sheer quality of the squad is very hard to deny.
They might leave themselves open a few times, but Naveen Kumar has been quality between the posts and the front three will be hard to deny.