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ISL Week 9 Preview: Chennai host hotsphots Pune as Bengaluru travel to Delhi

Written by: Sourav Neogi

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Elsewhere Mumbai take on Kerala while ATK travel to the northeast as the season approaches the halfway mark.

After an exciting New Year's gameweek, the Indian Super League once again resumes with league minnows Delhi Dynamos and Kerala Blasters locking horns in Delhi.

However, the week will grow exponentially in the following days as two of the favourites Chennaiyin FC and FC Pune City face-off on Saturday. Jamshedpur FC will travel to Goa on Thursday and defending champions ATK take on NorthEast United in Guwahati on Friday.

Delhi Dynamos Vs Kerala Blasters FC

Date & Venue: 10th January, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi

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

A hard week for the Dynamos, who are currently occupying the bottom place in the league table. A series of disastrous performances and injuries have forced the capital-side to limit their abilities in the ongoing edition of the ISL. In the very first fixture of the week, the Lions will face 8-placed Kerala Blasters in their own backyard at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi.

This will be the 9th time the teams from the opposite end of the country are going to face each other. Though, Blasters' record against Dynamos is not as bright as one may think, but the Yellow Army has proved their mettle when it mattered the most. Kerala beat Delhi in last season's playoff to leave the national capital fans in shock.

Blasters are in an overhaul right now with their old statesman David James coming in for the departed Rene Meulensteen and it is expected that they will play dominant, possession-based football. James has laid importance on Nemanja Lakić-Pešić and Kizito Keziron and they are most likely to start the game on Wednesday.

It seems that the Dynamos cannot sink further than their current position. They have earned just a point from a possible 24 and are on a 7-game winless streak, but boss Miguel Angel Portugal is quite upbeat with the performances of Nandhakumar Sekar and Xabi Irureta in the previous match. Lalianzuala Chhangte might still start in the hole as Portugal was happy with his performance.

FC Goa Vs Jamshedpur FC

Hero ISL's first 100 goals in 100 seconds

Date & Venue: 11th January, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa

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

This time around in the ISL, FC Goa has put up some brilliant performances under Spanish coach Sergio Lobera. The Goa franchise currently sits in fifth place in the league standings with a game in hand, a win here could take them to the third spot. However, since the turn of the year, the Gaurs have hit a patch of bad luck as they are yet to win any of their games in the New Year. Their last win came against minnows Dynamos last month. Since then, they have registered two defeats and a draw.

On the other hand, Jamshedpur FC, with a traditional English approach in their gameplay, have proved to be a tough nut to crack since the beginning of the season. Under Engishman Steve Coppell, the newcomers are currently holed up in sixth place and a win is important to keep ATK off of their trail.

Lobera will most likely rely on Ferran Corominas, the striker who completely failed in the last two matches will be an important player on the pitch for the Spaniard who will be looking to bounce back after dropping five points in the last two matches. On the other hand, Coppell is likely to depend on Jerry Mawihmingthanga, who turned into the perfect winger for the Jamshedpur franchise.

Considering that Jamshedpur are one of the most defensive sides in the league, the hosts are likely to adopt an attacking gameplay against them. A 4-2-3-1 formation looks likely for the Gaurs, with Corominas spearheading the attack and Manuel Arana along with Brandon Fernandes operating from the wide areas. Jamshedpur, on the other hand, will have a tough time keeping Corominas at bay and are expected to lineup in a defensive manner. Coppell will likely put his trust in the defensive duo Anas Edathodika and Tiri, who will be instructed to keep an alert eye on the striker.

NorthEast United FC Vs ATK

Marcinho's goal against FC Goa is nominated for the Fans' goal of the week

Date & Venue: 12th January, Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati

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

In the bottom half of the table, NorthEast United have disappointed their fans once again. However, the Highlanders snatched three points against FC Goa in their last outing, which could boost their confidence against defending champions ATK.

The visitors, are having a hard time with injuries and bad luck in the current season. Unlike their opponents in the next game, Teddy Sheringham’s men fell to a defeat in their last game against Bengaluru FC. However, the Kolkata franchise is hoping for a positive result against NEUFC, who have shown a susceptibility against high pressing teams.

Brazilian midfielder Marcinho will once again be the hotspot for the hosts. He's the one on whom the hopes of the Highlanders rely. The goal against FC Goa would have certainly done much good to his confidence and he would like to continue this form against ATK. For the visitors, Sheringham will expect star midfielder Ryan Taylor to turn up against the minnows. The versatile player was brought in to provide much-needed stability in the defence as well as in the deeper midfield areas and is set to ply his trade in the middle of the park whenever required.

With the change in personnel in the think-tank, NEUFC's approach to the game has changed and that was clearly visible in the match against Goa. Although, Goa had much higher possession, but the intent to press and attack in the opposition was appreciable. With the collective acumen of Eelco Schattorie, Avram Grant and Joseph Sidy, NEUFC will look to put on another amazing performance similar to their last outing.

ATK haven't had the best of times so far in this ISL. The two-time ISL champions are placed 7th. With one win, two losses and two draws, their away record has got enough to boast of. Also, they come into this match on the back of a 1-0 defeat against BFC. Full-back Prabir Das who impressed against Bengaluru will look to shoulder the defensive responsibilities once again. Robbie Keane, if available, will definitely add his magic touches to the game.


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Chennaiyin FC Vs FC Pune City

Date & Venue: 13th January, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai

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

Both teams are serious contenders for the title this season. So, a blockbuster game awaits both sets of fans at the weekend. Both the sides are coming from a draw in their respective last fixtures and will be looking to get the win and climb up the table.

FC Pune City will LOOK to avenge this loss against Chennaiyin

The Chennai franchise will be looking forward to the return of Henrique Sereno in the game. The Portuguese's absence was felt in the last fixture for the Marina Machans as they failed to deal with the problems at the back during their 2-2 draw against the Dynamos. Both the goals were conceded in poor fashion and Sereno's return would help the side massively. 

For the opponents, gaffer Ranko Popovic is troubled by the suspension of Marcelinho. In the eight matches that he's featured in so far this season, the Brazilian has contributed to 10 goals with six goals and four assists. He's been playing the #10 role to perfection for Popovic and it has helped them reach the third spot. 

As always, an attacking 4-2-3-1 is expected from Gregory's men. The Brazilian Raphael Augusto who came off the bench in the last game will most certainly make it back to the starting XI. Sereno is available for selection after returning from suspension. Popovic will most likely go with his tried and tested formation of 4-2-3-1 as well, with Emiliano Alfaro and Marcelinho tasked with getting the goals for the visitors.

Delhi Dynamos FC Vs Bengaluru FC

Date & Venue: Sunday, 14th January, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi

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

When Bengaluru FC and Delhi Dynamos last met, this happend

Their second game in the week. Delhi will expect to play for nothing less than a win in their own backyard irrespective of the result against Blasters earlier in the week. Currently, the Dynamos sit at the bottom of the table and will want to change this fact against league newcomers Bengaluru FC. However, one of the favourites to win the ISL this season, BFC are expected to see this fixture as another means to gather three points and keep their supremacy intact at the top half of the table.

The two teams have only met once before and the Karnataka outfit got the better of the national capital club with a 3-1 win. Ironically, the downfall of Delhi began after the very defeat in Bengaluru and the Lions still suffering from that. The Blues' silent performer has been Subhashish Bose. The left-back is a solid rock at the back and has made the slot his own.

Delhi's Vinit Rai has been consistent in his position and the team's results has not affected him. The interceptions and his off the ball movement are the keys to his game.

Mumbai City FC Vs Kerala Blasters

Date & Venue: Sunday, 14th January, Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai

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

One of the contenders for the playoffs, Mumbai City have shown a fine brand of pragmartic football this season. The Mumbaikars have scored some spectacular goals in this edition of the ISL and sit fourth in the league table. Kerala Blasters, their opponents though, having shown some glimpses of excellence, have gone down the table and currently sit in the bottom half of the table.

Balwant Singh has been inm scintillating form and will look to score more goals in front of the Mumbai faithful who adore him so much. He has been on target at the Mumbai Football Arena for both India and the Islanders. On the opposite side, we have a re-invigorated Wes Brown who has been manning the defensive midfield position and marshalling the Kerala troops.

Tactically, Mumbai will be the aggressors and will look to push Kerala onto the back foot. Mumbai City's famed attacking quartet of Achille Emana, Balwant, Everton Santos and Thiago Santos will be the ones looking to disrupt Kerala's defensive shape. The Blasters, on the other hand, will look to play a more direct game as seen in the first season under David James. They might use a 2-man attack to pierce through the defence of Mumbai.

Published: Tue Jan 09, 2018 06:01 PM IST

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