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Delhi Dynamos played their first game of ISL 2016 against the defending champions, Chennaiyin FC on Thursday at the JLN Stadium, Chennai. The team looked tactically sound and implemented their ideas well, which led to a comfortable 3-1 victory over the hosts.
Delhi played in a 4-3-3 formation, with Antonio Doblas leading the side under the bar. Anas Edathodika and Ruben Gonzalez formed the central defensive pairing, while Souvik Chakraborty and Sana were deployed as the full-backs. In the middle of the pitch, Memo and Marcos Tebar formed the central midfield pair, with Milan Singh played at the tip of the pivot. With capable wingers in Marcelinho and Kean Lewis, Delhi had enough creativity and flair to support Richard Gadze, playing as the lone striker.
Match Report: As it happened
The match began on an equal footing, with both teams playing aggressive, attacking football with some ambitious runs into the opposition box. The pairing of Marcos Tebar and Memo looked comfortable on the ball and sprayed it nicely to the wings where Kean Lewis and Marcelinho were a constant threat to the opposition full-backs. Marcelinho, in particular, played a brilliant game, creating chance after chance and linked well with Richard up front.
As the game grew, Delhi started taking the task at hand with Marcos Tebar showing brilliant vision in the midfield. His short exchanges with Milan, Memo and Marcelinho kept the game flowing and Delhi played and determined the speed of the game themselves. Richard Gadze had a goal ruled offside, while replays showed otherwise.
Marcelinho scored from a penalty won by Milan, who was brought down by Dwayne Kerr, who had an awful night altogether. In another brilliant link-up play, Richard found Marcelinho with a wonderful through-ball, which was finished perfectly by Marcelinho. Chennaiyin FC’s Dudu had equalized, but Marcelinho’s second goal gave the lead to the Lions. In the dying minutes, Kean Lewis’ inviting cross was met convincingly by Badara Badji and the scoreline read 3-1. In the process, Delhi Dynamos had given one of their finest performances in history and the chances in the squad seem to be working very well for Gianluca Zambrotta.
Playing the first match in the league with an almost new team, Zambrotta had a huge task at hand to rally his team against the defending champions. The coach did that exemplarily well. Keeping Bruno Pelissari and Florent Malouda on the bench is no mean task, but the performance proved that the coach was right. Let’s take a look at the tactical aspects of the game.
Chennaiyin FC made a huge mistake to play both Raphael Augusto and Hans Mulder as defensive midfielders, as it left a huge gap between the strikers and the midfield. This gap was exploited expertly by Marcos Tebar, Memo and Milan Singh. Playing with the ball on the feet, the team looked confident in possession and always had more than one option to keep the support play on. The team played an unselfish game, with Gadze working hard against Bernard Mendy and John Arne Riise.
There was calmness in this side, seldom seen before with the Lions. They never felt dominated or agitated, and were perfectly confident and looked well-tailored to a specific set of ideas. The plan was to play the ball to the wings, and the creative forces would either go out or cut in, a task both the wingers were equally capable of.
Ruben Gonzalez ‘Rocha’, the former Real Zaragoza defender, was the last line for the Dynamos and kept the opposition strikers at bay with composed zonal defending. Playing a high-line, the Delhi back-line caught Davide Succi offside quite a number of times in the last 20 minutes of the play. Young defenders like Sana and Souvik Chakraborty also delivered strong performances.
It was the middle of the pitch where Delhi won the game. Playing with a three-man pivot, the Lions had a Sergio Busquets-like customer in Marcos Tebar, who looked at an unseen ease with the ball at his feet. The Spanish centre-half had a calming effect on the Delhi Dynamos squad who looked to have unearthly composure at the ball, rarely seen in the ISL. Controlling the speed of the game with consummate ease, Tebar linked well with Memo and Milan, who played their roles to perfection.
It is inevitable to say that teams would read into this game-play soon and Zambrotta would need a plan B for his side, but for now, this side looks calm, composed, confident and imposing. With stability at the back and enough explosive artillery in the attacking third, this Delhi Dynamos side can be expected to over-achieve from last season, where they reached the semi-finals. With Badara Badji, Florent Malouda and Bruno Pelissari on the sidelines, one can only imagine the firepower this team can bring onto the pitch.
Coach Gianluca Zambrotta showed the world what a good pre-season can do to a team. The team never looked like it was making its debut with as many as 7 new players. The Italian had a poker-face look throughout the game, occasionally shouting his ideas from the sideline. It all, as of now, augurs well for the Delhi Dynamos side and its fans.
Photo: ISL Media
Editorial by Punit Tripathi Khel Now Correspondent from Delhi – A sports enthusiast. Freelance writer on football and cricket. A die-hard Manchester United follower. You can Follow him on twitter .