Chennaiyin FC take on inform NorthEast United in their third league encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. The Blue Marines have had their worst start to an ISL season losing their first two games against Bengaluru FC and FC Goa before the international break. The defending champions will have a tough task going against Eelco Schattorie‘s men.
NorthEast have had a very good start this season. They drew with FC Goa 2-2 at home and dominated ATK, the highest spenders in the league, away from home winning the game 1-0. They have never managed to qualify to the end of season playoffs and are often regarded as the weakest team in the entire ISL. Their manager, who deserves all credit for their amazing performance in the first two games, would love to prove his critics wrong by leading them to the playoffs.
Chennaiyin FC gaffer John Gregory ahead of the match said:
“It hasn’t been a good start for us. But what I cannot fault my players for is effort. And the way they work hard and put in effort, results will change. I have full faith in my squad.”
He further added that
“NorthEast have had a fantastic start to the season by their own standards. We have utmost respect for them and the start they’ve had. But I have full faith in my players and their capabilities of winning against them.”
Line-ups and Tactics
Chennaiyin FC were expected to change their formation after losses in their first two games but Gregory quashed all those rumours stating that he wouldn’t have a knee-jerk reaction and make massive changes in their approach. They’ll likely stick to their 4-3-3 formation which they used in the first two games.
NorthEast, on the other hand, will use a 4-2-3-1 formation. They have been solid defensively playing two Croatian centre-backs and unlike Chennaiyin FC they have been very clinical upfront.
I expect Chennaiyin to approach the game in a similar way to the one against Bengaluru. They will try to have more possession, try to play the ball from the back and will be aggressively pressing the opposition when they don’t have possession. Chennaiyin lack a proper ball winner in the midfield and they have been very vulnerable to counter-attacks this season. Another problem with the Blue Marines is lack of creativity, their midfielders look out of ideas in the final third and often end up passing the ball to Raphael Augusto who has been heavily marked this season.
NorthEast have been solid defensively, they are very patient in their build-up and often make most of their chances in the final third. Their Nigerian striker Bartholomew Ogbeche has had an amazing start to the season scoring the second against FC Goa and generally being an all-round nuisance. Eelco has managed to find the right mix of Indian and foreign players in particular positions.
NorthEast are favourites going into this game based on their form but I wouldn’t count Chennaiyin FC out of the game, With the experience John Gregory has and the amazing talent at their disposal Chennaiyin FC can certainly make a comeback.