The Gaurs won the reverse fixture by a one-goal margin.
Two teams in desperate need of a victory to keep their flailing top-four hopes alive go head-to-head when Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa meet in a virtual do-or-die Indian Super League encounter at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Wednesday.
Chennaiyin dropped to eighth place after their loss to Mumbai City FC the other day, having 19 points from 15 matches. Goa, seated a rung below them, have gone five games without a win and have 15 points from 15 games. The Gaurs have to win all five of their remaining fixtures to stand a chance for a playoff berth.
Both teams know that their fate is hanging by a thread and a win on Wednesday is absolutely necessary to challenge the teams above them.
The two teams have struggled to score this season and the root cause has been their inability to convert their shots into goals. Goa and Chennaiyin have the worst (6.95) and second-worst (8.12) goal conversion rate. The two teams are one of four teams to have scored less than 20 goals this season. For Bozidar Bandovic’s Chennaiyin, their run of fixtures have the odds stacked against them and if they are to stage a comeback, they have to put their best foot forward.
For Chennaiyin, they will face Odisha FC, Jamshedpur FC, Kerala Blasters FC and ATK Mohun Bagan; all teams in better shape and in a better place to contest for that top-four spot.
“We need to keep trying. Last game, we made so many mistakes with the ball in our feet and under no pressure. But we did good things as well and the boys gave everything on the field,” Bandovic said.
Chennaiyin will miss the services of defender Sajid Dhot and forward Vladimir Koman, and Bandovic said they are important players who will be missed.
On the upside, Chennaiyin and Goa play more passes in the final third before attempting a shot than other ISL teams this season. For every one shot attempted by Goa this season, they complete 4.58 passes in the final third. This is a higher number of passes than any other team. Similarly, Chennaiyin are second in this ratio, completing 4.29 passes in the final third per attempted shot.
Both teams have also been overly reliant on foreign players to get the goals and their Indian contingent needs to fire as well for the teams to do well.
“We are taking it match by match. From now on, we are praying and hoping that results come our way. The situation here has improved and I see a lot of positive feelings in the team. The players are working hard. For the first time, the whole squad is available for tomorrow,” said Goa head coach Derrick Pereira.
The last time the two sides met, Goa beat Chennaiyin 1-0. Pereira was asked if that helps boost morale, and the veteran tactician said: “Each and every match is a different match. We go into every game wanting to do our best. We have learnt from our mistakes. Hopefully, tomorrow if we perform the way we did in the first leg we will get a good result.”
Bozidar Bandovic confirmed that club talisman Vladimir Koman will miss another game due to a calf injury. He is yet to confirm a date on the Hungarian’s availability.
The game against FC Goa holds critical importance for Chennaiyin FC. Therefore, the coach will atleast be happy that he has no other injury problems to contend with. The match could also see Mirlan get back into the starting lineup at the cost of Lukasz Gikiewicz as the Marina Machans desperately try to address their goalscoring concerns.
FC Goa head coach Derrick Pereira confirmed that there are no injury concerns in his squad ahead of the crunch game. The Gaurs will be desperate for a win as it would give them an outside chance of making it to the playoffs.
Probable Starting XI
Chennaiyin FC: Debjit Majumder (GK), Ariel Borysiuk, Slavko Damjanovic, Narayan Das, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Germanpreet Singh, Anirudh Thapa (C), Edwin Syndey Vanspaul, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Mirlan Murzaev, Nerijus Valskis.
FC Goa: Naveen Kumar (GK), Seriton Fernandes, Ivan Gonzalez, Anwar Ali, Aibanbha Dohling, Alexander Romario Jesuraj, Edu Bedia (C), Alberto Noguera, Princeton Rebello, Brandon Fernandes, Jorge Ortiz.
Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa have been the two most common adversaries in ISL history. The two teams have met each other 20 times in the league with FC Goa winning 10 games while Chennaiyin FC have tamed the Gaurs on eight occasions. There have only been two draws in this fixture.
Did You Know?
- FC Goa average 63.9% possession, the highest in the league this season.
- The Gaurs have beaten Chennaiyin FC on 10 occasions, their highest against a single side in the ISL
- The match pits the two highest-scoring teams in ISL history with FC Goa scoring 256 goals and Chennaiyin FC 196 goals.
- FC Goa have completed the most number of passes this season (6944) with Edu Bedia completing the most passes by any player in the league (990).
The match between Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa will be played at the Tilak Maidan, Goa, from 7:30 pm. The game will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network. It will also be livestreamed on Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.