The Marina Machans face a tricky test against Odisha FC on Sunday
After their hapless performance in the last game against Hyderabad FC, Chennaiyin FC find themselves at even tougher crossroads in the ISL, with an opportunity to arrest the freefall in the standings.
The defeat against Hyderabad would’ve certainly punctured the spirits of the Marina Machans, as they were completely outplayed by the effervescent Nizams. They now play Odisha FC who would be high on confidence, having finally put an end to their winless streak with a stunning 4-2 victory against Kerala Blasters in their last game.
While the playoff spots aren’t yet beyond Chennaiyin’s grasp, with continued poor results, they also run the risk of teams below them starting to win games. This could further exacerbate their fortunes, if they don’t find a way to stitch more wins under their belt. Both teams come into Saturday’s clash with contrasting results and the need for a win to get a consistent run going.
While fighting their way through adversity is nothing new for Chennaiyin FC, confidence would be low in the Csaba Laszlo-led camp, as the Marina Machans are still nursing their wounds from the crushing defeat against Hyderabad FC.
Along with the misfiring strikeforce, the defensive frailties of Chennaiyin were also cruelly exposed in the defeat to Hyderabad, leaving Laszlo with a lot more to repair than he would’ve imagined. While all hope is not lost for the Marina Machans, they would require a run of consistency to keep themselves in contention for the playoffs.
Odisha FC finally broke their duck and won their first game of the season by outplaying Kerala Blasters. The Juggernauts will want to get more wins under the belt in a bid to push higher up the table.
Odisha certainly have the players capable of making a difference and a win against Chennaiyin would see them trim the gap to just two points behind their opponents on Sunday. A win against Chennaiyin could set them up going into the second-half of the season.
Chennaiyin FC will most likely have Isma back in the starting lineup but a huge blow to Chennaiyin’s fortunes would be the news that captain Rafael Crivellaro would be out for the rest of the season due to the injury he sustained in the game against ATK Mohun Bagan. The Brazilian absence could affect their already short attacking options up front and also be a hit on their creative output. This could in turn push Chennaiyin FC to dip into the transfer market to find a suitable replacement.
That puts further pressure on Csaba Laszlo who desperately needs some spark in attack and despite his best efforts, that hasn’t come from Jakub Sylvestr. Hence, the Romanian could be tempted to rest the Slovakian for the more physically adept Isma. The Guinean will also be looking to get back on the scoresheet, having gone goalless since his penalty strike in their first game this season.
For Odisha, the injury to Manuel Onwu ahead of their last game could prove to be a worry, although head coach Stuart Baxter claimed it not to be serious. Baxter could be tempted to play the same XI that featured against Kerala Blasters.
The two teams have faced each other twice in the ISL so far. The games ended in a 2-2 draw and a win for Odisha FC.
Chennaiyin FC: Kaith (GK), Reagan, Sabia, Sipovic, Lalrinzuala, Thapa, Tangri, Fatkhullo, Chhangte, Rahim Ali, Sylvestr
Odisha FC: Saini (GK), Sarangi, Tratt, Taylor, Antonay, Bora, Mawihmingthanga, Vinit Rai, Alexander, Mauricio, Lahlimpuia
Man to watch
Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin FC)
It has come to a stage where the form of Anirudh Thapa is pivotal to the resurgence of his club. The midfielder has had a sedate season so far, but the same can’t be said of his side.
Thapa continues to perform well in midfield scoring twice so far this season and putting up 4.7 tackles and interceptions/game. His creativity and attacking prowess hasn’t borne much fruit this campaign, but with a defence as susceptible as Odisha’s who have let in the second-most number of goals, Thapa could play a more influential role in spurring the Marina Machans forward.
Despite his decreased passing numbers, Thapa’s steady improvement in his accuracy coupled with more attacking intent is sure to help his side’s cause whenever required. This season, the midfielder has already matched his highest goalscoring tally for a campaign, but a lot more would be required of him in attack.
Diego Mauricio (Odisha FC)
Diego Mauricio has been a revelation for Odisha FC this season, notching up five goals in nine games for the Juggernauts. The Brazilian has shown flashes of brilliance and saved his best for his side’s first win of the season, where he scored a brace to see off the Blasters.
Mauricio has flourished in his role as a more central striker and has stepped up when goals were required off him. Indeed, he has scored half of his side’s tally so far. The attacker would once again be summoned to see his side past the Marina Machans.
Did you know?
- Chennaiyin FC have scored the second-highest number of goals in ISL history
- Marcelinho (Odisha) is one goal/assist away from becoming only the third player in ISL history with 50 goal contributions (behind Ferran Corominas and Sunil Chhetri)
- Chennaiyin FC hold the record for the second-most number of yellow cards accumulated in ISL history (228) as well as the most fouls (1541)
The match will be live on Star Sports 1 & 1HD, Star Sports 2 & 2HD (ENGLISH), Star Sports Hindi 1 & 1HD, Star Sports 3 (HINDI) and several other regional languages. The match will also be available for live streaming on JioTV and Disney+Hotstar.