The Red and Gold Brigade are being cut adrift from the rest of the pack in the ISL this season.

A lot rides on SC East Bengal ahead of their upcoming Indian Super League game against Chennaiyin FC on Boxing Day. The Robbie Fowler-led side have had a torrid time in their first season in the ISL so far. The Red and Gold Brigade are yet to win a single game this season and face another stern test when they face the buoyant Marina Machans spurred on by their recent win against FC Goa. 

The success against the Gaurs would surely prove to be a massive shot in the arm for Csaba Laszlo’s side and they will be the favourites going into this game. While East Bengal broke their four-game duck of being goalless in the last two games, they would certainly be looking to quickly break their winless run this campaign. 

The Stakes

SC East Bengal

There hasn’t been a trick in the book that Robbie Fowler hasn’t tried to get his side up and running in the league, from putting up different formations to changing tactics in-game. But, none of the formulae has worked. East Bengal should’ve gotten their first win of the season in their previous game against Kerala Blasters, but a last-ditch effort by Jeakson Singh meant that they had to share the spoils. 

Despite possessing quality players, the constant chopping and changing of tactics and personnel have meant that East Bengal haven’t yet identified a settled XI yet and are still in the stage of experimentation. Fowler now faces the daunting task of overturning the uninspiring form shown by the Kolkata-based side. The defence of East Bengal would face a tough time keeping the likes of Rafael Crivellaro and Co. at bay. The match could also see Jeje Lalpekhlua take to the pitch against his former side. 

Chennaiyin FC

After a great start to their campaign, Chennaiyin’s journey hit a roadblock with back-to-back defeats and a draw. The two-time champions eventually found their way back with a win against Goa. The Csaba Laszlo-led side proved to be a handful for the Gaurs and had it not been for some shoddy work in the final third, the scoreline would’ve been even more emphatic. The team would be looking to add a win against East Bengal to get some much-needed momentum. 

The depth in quality that the Marina Machans possess is matched by very few others in the league. They will be looking to put East Bengal further on the back foot by playing their fluent pressing style. Laszlo would also see the match as the perfect opportunity for his strikers to attack more and further boost their confidence.

Team News

SC East Bengal

A lot is to be improved at SC East Bengal, if they are to stand a chance of winning against Chennaiyin FC. Despite trying almost every player available to him, Robbie Fowler is yet to settle on a proper XI. 

Last week, it was also revealed that as many as nine players from the current East Bengal roster would be released in the January transfer window. In that sense, the club would also be prompted to dip into the transfer market for quick solutions to their current predicament in all departments. 

Chennaiyin FC

The win against FC Goa couldn’t have come at a better time for Csaba Laszlo, combined with the news that Chennaiyin frontman Isma would also be returning from injury. The former St. Mirren striker returns to the side after a two-week hiatus. 

The Marina Machans welcomed back Enes Sipovic in the last game and the return of Isma means that Laszlo has a full strength squad to face SC East Bengal. 

Head-To-Head

This is the first meeting between the two sides in the ISL.

Probable Line-ups

SC East Bengal: Majumder (GK), Fox (C), Neville, Das, Irshad, Steinmann, Sehnaj, Maghoma, Rafique, Lalpekhlua, Pilkington. 

Chennaiyin FC: Kaith (GK), Vanspaul, Sabia, Sipovic, Lalrinzuala, Thapa, Tangri, Chhangte, Fatkhulloev, Crivellaro (C), Sylvestr.

Man to Watch

SC East Bengal

Jacques Maghoma 

Jacques Maghoma has been a diamond amidst the rubble at East Bengal. The Congolese midfielder has scored two out of the three goals for the team this campaign.  The former Birmingham City player has brought all his experience to the ISL and has been the driving force behind everything good for SC East Bengal. 

The form of Jacques Maghoma would be pivotal to the fortunes of SC East Bengal’s season and he would once again be expected to shoulder the responsibility of shepherding the team to their first win this season. 

Chennaiyin FC

Rafael Crivellaro 

After a cracking first season in the ISL, Crivellaro came into his second campaign with the responsibility of leading his side and maintaining his levels of class on the attacking front for Chennaiyin FC. It is safe to say that the Brazilian has done his reputation no harm and on the contrary has further reaffirmed himself as being among the best players in the league. 

Crivellaro has been the beating heart of Chennaiyin’s attack this season, with his outstanding dribbling and an exceptional eye for a pass. The Portuguese can also efficiently dictate play anywhere on the park. His attacking input has been crucial for Chennaiyin FC this season as almost all of their goals have either directly or indirectly involved Crivellaro in the build-up and he has shown consummate ease in linking with the strikers and feeding them through on goal. 

Did You Know?

  • East Bengal have received the third-highest number of yellow cards this season (20).
  • Chennaiyin have conceded the third-least number of goals in the league this season (5).
  • A defeat against East Bengal would see Chennaiyin FC join Northeast United with the most defeats in ISL history (43). 

Telecast

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.

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