The Marina Machans lost their last game but will see this as an opportunity to seal three points.

Bottom of the table Delhi Dynamos FC take on Chennaiyin FC with nothing but professional pride to play for. The match may not change the fortunes of the home side in the Hero Indian Super League, but it could certainly affect the visitors’ chances in the top four. Chennaiyin are currently third on the table with 23 points but have a game in hand on the teams above and below them. A victory could take them to second spot, and an unlikely loss will still keep them where they are.

In a remarkable co-incidence, Chennaiyin have won every alternate game in the last 10 matches. Since they have lost the last game against Bengaluru FC, the pattern would suggest that they will beat Delhi Dynamos — a team which has won just two games in the entire season.

“The reason is very simple, when the ball is on the ground we play well. We play delinquently, with speed, with control and with good combinations. But when we are attacked and when we have the ball in the air, it is a problem,” Delhi’s head coach Miguel Angel Portugal said, trying to explain his side’s position in the league table. He also spoke about the team’s inability to excel under pressure when aerial attacks are coming at them, and Chennaiyin will certainly want to exploit that weakness on the morrow.

Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory, with cushion of a game in hand and the position they are in, can make the most of the situation and give some key players a rest. 

“I always believe in playing my best team, so it wouldn’t make a difference tomorrow. Everyone’s fit, we’re all healthy, and the only player we’re missing is the skipper, who is out with suspension. We lost the previous match — playing with 10 men for most part — 10 men who gave everything, but are now looking to bounce back and are raring to go for the game tomorrow,” he said, exuding the confidence of a man who is not too far from sealing a top-four spot.

Gregory won’t take it easy though, saying that it would be foolish to write it off as a game which is already won.

“You would usually say that they’ve nothing to play for but pride and professionalism — but they’ve played well and did well in Chennai. The team is littered with good players but unfortunately it hasn’t gone their way. Nevertheless they’ve got some talented players and we expect them to try and win the match,” he said.

Chennaiyin are one of the few teams to have given away points to Delhi Dynamos during a 2-2 draw, and the home side will want a better result this time around.

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Head to Head

Chennaiyin FC 1 – 4 Delhi Dynamos FC (2 draws)

Key Players

Nandhakumar Sekar (Delhi Dynamos FC)

The 22-year-old has outpaced his opponents on the flanks and delivered exquisite crosses whenever he’s been on the pitch this season. A handful for every defence in the league, Sekar has three assists to his name and always surges forward to get shots away. He will need to be at his best if his team are to get a positive result against Chennai.

Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin FC)

The 20-year-old has been a revelation in the league this season. His silky feet combined with his pace has taken to task many a defence. Thapa is pretty adept at taking set-pieces as well and has bagged a goal and an assist so far. An influential player in midfield, he will want to take advantage of Delhi’s shaky backline and contribute in defence for Chennai as well.

Probable Lineups

Delhi Dynamos FC

Miguel Portugal may stick to his 4-2-3-1 formation, as Delhi look to be more clinical in the final third.

Goalkeeper: Sukhdev Patil

Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Pratik Chowdhary, Gabriel Cichero, Munmun Lugun

Midfielders: Matias Mirabaje, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Jeroen Lumu, Paulinho Dias, Romeo Fernandes

Forward: Kalu Uche

Delhi head coach on what has gone wrong for his team this season: “When the quality is like that, we try to improve the quality, but it is a problem with the players. The personality and character for winning is a big problem for our players. We try a lot in training, but the mentality is the problem.”

Chennaiyin FC

John Gregory may go forward with the same 4-2-3-1 formation, which has yielded rich dividends in the past for his team.

Goalkeeper: Karanjit Singh

Defenders: Inigo Calderon, Mailson Alves, Sanjay Balmuchu, Jerry Lalrinzuala

Midfielders: Dhanpal Ganesh, Anirudh Thapa, Raphael Augusto, Rene Mihelic, Gregory Nelson

Forward: Jeje Lalpekhlua

Chennaiyin head coach on their opponents of the night: “Always in games such as this, you tend to feel that Delhi has got nothing to play for but their pride and professionalism. They certainly played well when they came to Chennai a few weeks ago. Their team is full of some very talented players. They have not done as well as they would have liked, but nevertheless they have some great players, and I expect them to try and win the match.”

Key Stats

  • Delhi are unbeaten at home against Chennai

Last Encounter

Chennaiyin FC 2 – 2 Delhi Dynamos FC (7th January 2018 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai)

Form Guide

Delhi Dynamos FC: L L W L D

Chennaiyin FC: L W L W D