Finally, at long last, the ISL is back! Yes, it may have only been little over a week since the last game, nonetheless, that’s enough for a lifetime, if you ask me. I’ve grown to love football on a daily basis and although it can be difficult to keep up at times, it’s all fun and games. Delhi, who are one of two teams that have only played once, entertain an ATK side who need a result. Admittedly, it’s a bit early in the season for panic mode, but Steve Coppell can’t be far from it. When the fixtures were released, I’d take an educated guess and say that Coppell would’ve have wanted/predicted a minimum of four points from the opening two games. How about no goals scored and no points?

Something’s Gotta Change

It’s no secret that Coppell is better when his side are on the backfoot. You can look at his Reading side from yesteryear in the top flight in England. You can look at his Jamshedpur side from just last year. The common ground between the two is that he’s better as an underdog rather than a favourite. Now, the main issue with that is the fact that big things were and still are expected of him this season in Kolkata. His decision making has been questionable at the best of times, leaving out Kalu Uche, who scored 13 goals in 15 games last season is somewhat laughable. Obviously, we don’t see what happens on the training ground and maybe Uche isn’t putting it on there, however, after two games and no goals, you’d have to think about mixing it up and regardless of any visa issues, Uche is a goalscorer.

Of course, Uche scored those 13 goals while at ATK’s hosts. Delhi Dynamos. Josep Gombau’s side were unlucky on the opening day of the season as only a late Pune goal from Diego prevented them from the perfect start. In what was a close game possession wise, Delhi created the better chances and after having nine shots inside the area, you’d expect a better return than just the one goal. This is particularly evident by the fact that three big chances were missed. On a positive note for Delhi, the partnership of Gianni Zuiverloon and Rana Gharami got off to a strong start and if those two can stay fit, there’s every chance that Delhi could launch an assault on the top four.

Dangerous Delhi

While it may have been a wonder goal from Rana Gharami which got Delhi off the mark for the season, they created a hatful of chances. More often than not, those chances were created down the wing. Case in point…

In this first instance, the end product from the wide man lets the side down. Instead of playing the ball into the box, Narayan tries to beat the keeper at the near post to no avail. See below.

Narayan times his run brilliantly as Delhi successfully overload the Pune defence. His decision making lets him down, though.

Credit where it’s due, it was a fantastic run from deep to overload the Pune defence, nevertheless, you can already see two other Delhi players alongside him, therefore, a cross would have probably been the better option. This will perhaps be a feature of Pep Gombau’s side, the full-backs joining the attacks later on to overload the opposition defence and create a numerical advantage in the final third. Either way, he should have played the cross rather than shooting.

Dead End? No Problem

Case study number two is Lallianzuala Chhangte. It seems like he is stuck in a dead end, would you care to agree?

Surely Chhangte can’t get out of that, can he?

The Pune defender, who I believe to be Nim Dorjee Tamang (the number isn’t clear enough on his shirt), seems to have Chhangte under control here. Yes, he seems a little flat-footed, but he’s the right side of him so there shouldn’t be any problems.

Blink and you’ll miss it! Chhangte is now in the driver’s seat.

Just moments later, we find ourselves here. Chhangte has beaten him far too easily and is now posed with a slight dilemma if you will. Does he deliver the ball now and hope that Kaludjerovic beats Diaz in the air or does he bide his time? Ultimately, he chooses the latter, the right option.

Chhangte powering into the area means Matthew Mills is drawn out. Easy pass to the striker.

With Chhangte opting to bring the ball into the area, that then draws out Matthew Mills which makes the wide man’s decision a helluva lot easier. A simple pass through the gap to Kaludjerovic and bang, one-nil. Not exactly. The Serbian striker fluffed his lines on what was a rather poor debut. Things can only get better, right?

Much The Same

No matter how much of Delhi’s opening game I watch, there is instance after instance where Delhi have the ball in promising positions out wide. What this means is, whoever Coppell decides to replace Sena Ralte, who got sent off against NorthEast United, with needs to be on their game. The chances are, Ricky will probably get brought in. A baptism of fire, if ever I’ve seen one, on your first start of the season.

I’ll be very surprised if there are any changes made by Gombau as I think he will look to build a rhythm with this side, after all, they were unlucky not to win last time out against a team who finished in the top four last season. Coppell, on the other hand, will shake things up ever so slightly, with El-Maimouni potentially losing out due to ‘five foreigner rule’. Uche coming in up top with Everton moving out wide with Rane dropping to the bench. We’ll see.

Final Thoughts

On the whole, Delhi will look to keep hold of the ball for the majority of the game which will inadvertently suit ATK and even though Coppell’s side normally set themselves up to be defensively sound, I think we could see goals in this. Let’s pluck one out the air. Ok, Delhi Dynamos 2-2 ATK. You heard it here first.

Until the next time.