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ISL Week 14 Preview: Decisive week for Kerala and Goa as regular season enters final phase

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The two teams face crucial games against Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United in their bid to meet the playoffs.

With another ISL gameweek knocking on the doors, it looks as if the playoff spots might well be decided by this weekend. However, the bottom half scrapers could play spoilsport and drag the fight to a nail-biting last week. While NorthEast United FC, Chennaiyin FC play two matches each, Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters are fresh from a week's break and could steer the points table in their favour.

NorthEast United FC vs Delhi Dynamos FC

Date & Venue: 14th February/Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium

Time & Broadcast: 08:00 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar

Highlanders and Lions clash with pride at stake

This ISL game week starts with a dead rubber in Guwahati. It’s a battle of the bottom two as NorthEast United host Delhi Dynamos, each side playing for nothing else but salvage some pride. With playoff hopes done and dusted, the home side would like to put in a spirited performance against the fellow visitors from the capital city.

While rumours of new amalgamated competitions featuring teams from the ISL and I-League are doing rounds, both the teams would like to try out new combinations as a process of giving game time to squad players.

FC Goa vs Chennaiyin FC



Date & Venue:15th February/ Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa

Time & Broadcast: 08:00 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar

Gaurs in must-win game to keep fleeting playoffs quest alive

Chennaiyin FC travels west to play FC Goa in a crunch game this midweek. While the high flying-Gaurs look to enter the Top four, their counterparts too would try and consolidate the playoff berth.

Sergio Lobera is no stranger to Goa’s defensive lapses this season. Although the goals have been coming as they would have wanted but the Gaurs are letting in too many goals in their own net also. The team which, football fans feel, should have comfortably been sitting in the Top four by now are lagging behind in the sixth place. A win here takes them to 23 points still one point shy of fourth-placed Chennaiyin. The home side are on a three-match winless run conceding eight goals in the process. For Goa, it’s time to up the ante and go for the three points at all costs.

Chennaiyin FC too haven’t had a good run of form heading into this game. They managed to play a 1-1 draw against 10th placed Delhi Dynamos on Sunday. Head coach John Gregory, at this moment, would be more than satisfied with at least a point against Goa, rather than seeing them go neck and neck against his side.

Bengaluru FC vs FC Pune City

Date & Venue:16th February/Sree Kanteerava Stadium

Time & Broadcast: 08:00 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar

Bengaluru host Pune in battle of the Titans

It’s the battle of first and second place holders as Bengaluru FC invite FC Pune City amidst the West Block Blues.

ISL-debutants Bengaluru FC having already qualified for the playoffs, might opt to give the first team starts to several players while maintaining the team balance intact. Albert Roca’s side has always been dubbed as a favourite to lift the coveted crown in their maiden season. The team has been performing flawlessly under India-captain Sunil Chhetri. The foreign imports like John Johnson, Dimas Delgado, Miku, Paartalu and others have played their part in strengthening respective departments. Although the Blues can breathe a sigh of relief now, but they would not want to show any mercy to their opponents on the matchday.

FC Pune City and Ranko Popovic might feel they are almost there inside the safe zone but they would look to assure themselves mathematically. Having won three out of the last four games, the Stallions are high on confidence as they take on a formidable Bengaluru side. Among the foreign signings, Jonathan Lucca, Marcelinho and Marcos Tebar are expected to start for the Pune while Adil Khan and Gurtej Singh are most likely to be in the starting XI.


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NorthEast United FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Date & Venue:17th February/Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium

Time & Broadcast: 08:00 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar

Kerala go coast to coast in search of three points

NEUFC return to action for the second time in a span of four days when they host the mighty tuskers from down south. As for Kerala Blasters FC, every game is a must win, the Highlanders, on the contrary, would like to play spoilsport and create panic among the Top four hopefuls.

KBFC head coach David James knows the importance of the match and will try to leave no stone unturned in pursuit of all the 3 points in that game. The squad is expected to be in fine shape after a good week’s break before the match in Guwahati. The Manjappada faithful will go all guns blazing in their last three games aiming maximum points. The visiting side would want the likes of C.K. Vineeth, Ian Hume, Dimitar Berbatov to fire in the goals. While the backline rests on experienced shoulders of Lakic-Pesic, Sandesh Jhingan and Wes Brown.

Chennaiyin FC vs Jamshedpur FC

Date & Venue:18th February/Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai.

Time & Broadcast: 05:30 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar

Chennaiyin's  force meets Jamshedpur's immovable steel object

In the first game of Super Sunday, Chennaiyin FC entertains the men from the steel city of Jamshedpur. With top four spots at stake, none of the two sides would want to finish on a draw. This will also be Chennaiyin's second game in four days while Jamshedpur FC will be fresh after a week's off.

John Gregory’s side could end the week with a top-four berth assured if they manage to win both their games this week. However, they are equally aware of Jamshedpur’s defence and their quick legs down the wings. Chennaiyin would want their fan following to turn the volume up and cheer the team up in this crucial match.

Steve Coppell and Jamshedpur are unbeaten in their last three games and would like to continue their good run of form in this match as well. In their previous match at home, the Steelers were troubled by the Highlanders from NorthEast during most part of the game. But the team safely negotiated the situation as Wellington Priori’s acrobatic effort in the 51st minute was enough to dent the visitors’ confidence. Despite having little of the possession, the side’s defensive tactics looks to be spot on.

ATK vs Mumbai City FC

Date & Venue:18th February/Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan

Time & Broadcast: 08:00 PM/ Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD & Hotstar

Fading Mumbai seek to exercise last season's playoffs demons against ATK

In the battle of the metropolis, Mumbai City FC travels to Kolkata for the last match of this game week. This game promises to be an exciting one as both sides are still in the race for the top four mathematically. However, that will largely depend on results from the rest of the matches.

Two times champions ATK had an underwhelming season this time around. With injuries to key players mid-season, the squad never managed to put in a good show together and failed to live up to the expectations of the “defending champions” tag. Interim manager Ashley Westwood would want to finish the season on a positive note, with playoff hopes just a mere possibility. The home side would count on the experiences of imported players like Ryan Taylor, Tom Thorpe, Figueras and Zequinha in their respective positions alongside the talented bunch of Indian lads.

When it comes to top four spots, the Islanders are in a better position than ATK to reach the playoffs. But Mumbai City FC head coach Alexandre Guimaraes would like to focus more on the upcoming game rather than playing those number games. The Mumbai side has scored six and let in ten goals in their last four matches, winning just once during this period. The visitors will try to take the sails out of ATK’s boat with the fearsome attack of Rafa Jorda, Everton Santos and Balwant Singh. The defence manned by skipper Lucian Goian alongside Gerson Viera and Marcio Rosario need to adjust those loopholes before the game on Sunday.

Published: Tue Feb 13, 2018 08:36 PM IST

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