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Talking Points: Is Roberto Eslava the solution to Chennai City's weak defensive record?

Written by: Shivam Tiwari

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The Mariners conceded thrice in the opening 25 minutes against Akbar Nawas' side.

Chennai City continued on their march towards their maiden I-League title with a convincing win over Mohun Bagan. The Chennai side beat the Mariners 3-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Coimbatore. Star of the game, Nestor Gordillo, opened the scoring for the league leaders through a lob over goalkeeper Shilton Paul, after a pass from Sandro Rodriguez found him well positioned in the centre.

Gordillo soon returned the favour to Sandro, giving him the assist for Chennai's second goal. Later a well-executed counter-attack from the Chennai side put them in a three versus one situation, with Pedro Manzi scoring his 19th of the season. William Lalnunfela pulled one back for the Mariners, which turned out to be the only one Bagan could score. The two teams saw Mashoor Thangalakath and Shilton Paul sent off, leaving Mohun Bagan ending the game with 10 men on the pitch. The scenario surrounding Mashoor included an outrageous response from the Chennai City bench following a tackle near the dugout.

Below are the talking points from the game:

5. Is Khalid Jamil unsure of the best position to play Sony Norde in?

Sony Norde has been one of the most influential players of the Mariners lineup, despite the injury that he has had to deal with this season. Khalid Jamil started the Haitian international on the right wing, which was defensively weak and allowed Nestor to take them for a ride, forcing Norde to fall back more than what he would like to.

But, after having seen enough miserable play from the right wing, Jamil brought the eventual goalscorer Lalnunfela into the game, moving Norde to his favoured position, on the left. That move saw him grow in confidence and have a greater impact on the game. Had Norde been played in his natural position, the Mariners would have performed better right from the beginning.

4. Did Mohun Bagan lack the intent to win?

The Kolkata-based side were completely oblivious in the first half



Mohun Bagan players seemed to be oblivious and so did coach Jamil. The team lacked intent from the word go and the defence was shambolic, especially on the right side. The player to have the most impact on the game, Gordillo, was allowed acres of space on the right.

With Chennai City competing for the top prize with arch-rivals East Bengal, it seemed as if Bagan's only plan for the game was to submit before the home side and not let their rivals win the accolade they have been chasing for more than a decade.


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3. Is Mohun Bagan's lack of midfield creativity their weakness?

Mohun Bagan started with a midfield that lacked any creative spark. The likes of Omar Elhussieny and Laltluangliana Khiangte were pressured well by the Chennai forward line, not allowing them to settle and forcing errors from them.

This hampered Bagan's chances while going forward and pointed TO the over-reliance of The Mariners on Yuta Kinowaki, who missed the game.

2. Was this Shilton Paul's worst game for Mohun Bagan?

The Mohun Bagan custodian had a poor outing

Shilton Paul had a horrific game, a nightmare he would want to forget as soon as he can. The goalkeeper had a goal scored from over him through a lob, saw a loose shot go into the back of the net from outside the box and finally got the orders of an early shower after fouling Manzi.

Paul has had certainly seen better days and wouldn't have expected such a performance from himself, especially after the Calcutta Football League triumph.

1. Is Roberto Eslava the solution to Chennai City's weak defensive record?

Chennai City have been almost perfect and are raising the bar for themselves game after game. The Chennai-based side have three players in the top 10 I-League scorers list, and have been lethal while going forward.

But defensively, the side looked weakened in the past few games, conceding uncharacteristically many times. But with Roberto Eslava back, the Chennai side looked completely different. The Spanish defender, who missed the previous games due to an injury, brought back the strength and solidity that the Chennai backline were missing in the past few games.

Published: Mon Feb 25, 2019 02:39 PM IST

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