A win over ATK surely delighted the Goans as they saw their team take the top spot in the Indian Super League. It was crucial for FC Goa to maintain this form and increase their lead. On the other side, Odisha was trying to stabilise after their fickle displays. They were still trying to find their feet in the league. In this tactical analysis, we will examine Goa’s game-play and strategies. The following analysis will focus on Sergio Lobero’s tactics for this game.
Lobero named an unchanged line-up after the 2-1 win. Mohammad Nawaz started in goal. Seriton Fernandes and Mandar Rao Desai played as full-backs. Former Barcelona defender Carlos Peña partnered with Mourtada Sergine Fall at the back. Brandon Fernandes, Ahmed Jahouh, Lenny Rodrigues and Jackichand Singh made the midfield four. The French Hugo Boumous played behind the all-time top scorer of ISL Ferran Corominas. Jackichand’s early injury paved way for Seimeinlen Doungel. Edu Bedia was brought on for tired Boumous and Manvir Singh joined to play in the last minutes.
Odisha made two changes from their 3-2 win against Hyderabad. Arshdeep Singh took charge of the gloves with a back four of Shubham Sarangi, Diawandou Diagné, Carlos Delgado and Narayan Das. Martín Pérez Guedes replaced suspended Vinit Rai and played along with ex-Real Madrid player Marcos Tébar in midfield. Unexpectedly Xisco Hernandez was benched and Daniel Lalhlimpuia started in his stead. Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Nandha Kumar Sekar played on the wings with the Brazilian Aridane leading the line. Gombau made two changes at the half time to replace injured Diagné with Gaurav Bora and midfielder Daniel with Xisco. They were forced to make the third change in the 50th minute itself because of another injury. Romeo Fernandes came in for Jerry.
Goa in possession (Attacking)
Lobero’s men liked to play it out from the back. Nawaz was quick to roll the ball on the ground for his centre-backs. This brought a change in shape to get the ball forward. A quadruple clockwise rotation was observed on the left. Four players interchanged positions to fit in the best way to contribute offensively. The LCM Jahouh dropped in between defenders allowing LCB Peña to push wide. Meanwhile, LM Fernandes surged in the centre and paved way for LB Desai to take his place on the flanks. This rotation was not used to get rid of Odisha’s men as they didn’t man-mark or press aggressively. Instead, its significance was to maximise the offensive potential of these players from such positions.
The rotations were imperative in
1) Getting Jahouh on the ball without any pressure. He was the anchor of his team as he played 79 passes with 87% accuracy. This gave Goa control and reliability from behind. He progressed the ball further by playing inch-perfect passes through the channels or by launching accurate long diagonals. Jahouh successfully played 19 progressives passes of the 21 attempted;
2) Desai’s role was pivotal as he pinned Odisha’s Shubham Sarangi on right and maintained the width for the team;
3) Finally, the rotations enabled Fernandes to drift centrally in the midfield. As a result, he could link-up with Coro and Boumous well and hence add more creativity in the central corridor. His ability to get out of tight situations made him the perfect fit to play from the centre. He attempted seven successful dribbles in the match. Thus, this entire setup effective to help Goa advance from the centre as 92% of their attacks came from there.
The use of a central channel was seen throughout the length of the pitch. After receiving precise passes from the deep through the channels, the attackers would try to implement a similar idea after the turn. Starting off with running straight at Odisha’s defence, they looked to exploit the gaps between defenders to play through balls. Due to which, Goa registered eight deep completions (A pass [excluding crosses] that was received in a 20-meter radius from the opponent goal line) in the match. The facile attacking moves of Goa were a result of diligent efforts from players in training to supply tailored passes for one another.
Goa out of possession (Defending)
Against Odisha’s build-up
The Gaurs did their homework and were well aware of Odisha’s build-up strategies. They used man-marking in high-press to stop Odisha’s attempt to advance the ball. The front two and midfield four worked tirelessly to put pressure in the opposition half. As a result, this helped in eliminating options for support by covering all the ball near players. This system was so effective that it lead to five shots through Odisha’s loss of possession in their own half. This forced Gombau’s men to eventually change their approach and go directly long to ensure safety. Read the analysis linked here to know more about Odisha’s build-up pattern.
Defending in own half
Xisco’s introduction called for a change of tactics for both sides. The Juggernauts changed their build-up plan in the half time and pushed their full-backs forward. Due to which Goa wingers were pulled back in their half. Hence, Odisha was able to create a 3v2 situation from the back and play timely passes forward. Xisco showed more desire to drop in the midfield to collect the ball. Therefore, in order to not get outnumbered in the centre, Goa played a narrow low block. Odisha relied on crosses to create their chances and Goa’s narrow midfield couldn’t impede their attempts. However, Fall and Peña dealt with the deliveries well as they locked the vulnerable spaces with the help of Rodrigues and Jahouh. Odisha played 18 crosses in the game and their two shots on target came from crosses only.
Defence to attack
The shift in tactics in the second half triggered counter-attacking play for Goa. They showed their ability to attack from positional play as well as counters in the same match. Odisha was permissive after losing the ball and focused on aligning the back-line together. Hence, Goa’s attackers could carry the ball from one half to the other unchallenged. Diagné’s injury forced young substitute Bora take his place who is not a natural centre-back. He struggled to get compact and fill the space which Goa took advantage of. Even during counter-attacks, Goa tried to create from the centre instead of going for easy options out-wide. Goa completed eight counter-attacks.
Attack to defence
In negative transitions, Goa placed its pieces smartly to deal with the potential threat. As the LB Desai occupied the left flank while attacking, it was difficult to get back in position quickly after losing the ball. Therefore, LCB Peña and RB Seriton pushed forward to create a line of resistance along with one CM. In the meantime, the other CM confronted the ball carrier. The lone man Fall stayed behind acting as a sweeper in case the opposition was able to breach all the lines. He recorded the second-highest top speed in the match with 32.4 Km/H which brought more assurance at the back. Odisha had zero counter-attacks in the game.
Goa didn’t show strong dependencies on set-pieces to create goal opportunities. However, they tried different combinations of movements and deliveries from Fernandes. All the combinations supported the single idea of getting the ball to Fall. He was naturally the best option in the box with his speed and strength. In the above picture, he runs late into the box after deceiving his marker to get to the far post. Unfortunately, the ball didn’t reach him but the Odisha keeper did concede a penalty after squandering the catch.
The team in orange defended corners with five players making a wall of zonal marking. Meanwhile, two players guarded around the near post. The rest three acted as blockers primarily set for counter-attacks. The team managed to defend against Odisha’s main man Aridane successfully in set-pieces.
In all honesty, the final score doesn’t do justice to Odisha’s performance. Goa played fluid football through the central channel while Odisha used the wider routes to attack. Lobero’s tactics were unique and caused many challenges to their opposition. The Juggernauts did well in the second half with a change of tactics in the build-up. Their efforts were not enough to get them a goal as Nawaz was adamant to keep his clean-sheet.