NorthEast United FC Goa Indian Super League ISL Preview
Will either Leudo (left) or Jahouh (right) prove to be the difference?

Game 3 of ISL V sees Holland vs Spain, NorthEast United vs FC Goa & Schattorie vs Lobera. It’s made all the more interesting by the fact that NorthEast United were one of only two teams that FC Goa failed to beat last season in ISL IV (the other was Mumbai). If that doesn’t perk your interest levels up, then you’ll be pleased to know that both of FC Goa’s games against NorthEast United came after the arrival of Avram Grant and Eelco Schattorie. While the former isn’t around much anymore, the latter is. Of course, NorthEast have overhauled their squad whereas FC Goa have only strengthed in areas that were absolutely necessary as they’ve kept their core together.

Thankfully, the fact that both of them have played each other with the same coaching staff (minus Avram Grant), it means we’ve got the ability to look at the two previous meetings from last season to make us all more informed about today’s game. It was a real baptism of fire for Eelco Schattorie as he and Avram’s very first game was against a rampant FC Goa side. Nonetheless, a strong defensive system and a bit of fortune in front of goal gave NorthEast the three points. From the kick-off, you can see that NorthEast opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation or a 4-3-2-1, dependant on which way you look at it.

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Grant & Schattorie were only too aware of the importance of shape and stability.

One Midfield Pivot

I seem to be mentioning this quite a lot at the moment. The midfield pivot. Initially, I used it to refer to Ahmed Jahouh when discussing Sergio Lobera. I then used it yesterday when talking about Krcmarevic in Kerala’s midfield and I seemingly find myself bringing it up again, here. From the above, you can clearly see it’s four at the back with two midfielders sitting in front of the defensive line. However, if we fast forward to the 13th minute, we can see NorthEast’s and specifically Schattorie’s vision coming to life in front of our very eyes.

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Martin Diaz assumes the role as the midfield pivot in this instance.

In this instance, Martin Diaz acts as the advanced libero. This allows the full-backs to bomb on without the worry of being exposed, due to the fact that Diaz covers the space. One of the reasons why I say that it’s particularly Schattorie’s vision is down to the chat I had with him a couple of days ago (which will be out very, very soon) as he is very passionate about having one defensive midfielder, similar to the way Guardiola sets up Man City. Obviously, the players at Schattorie’s disposal are miles away from Guardiola’s, but it’s good to know that there’s a plan in place. NorthEast United will set up in the same way again this season as they look to finally break into the top four. Here is what I think NorthEast’s starting XI will be against Goa…

Working In Pairs

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It seems to me that Leudo is a shoe in for the ‘Jahouh role’ and it all ends up working quite well. Grgic & Komorski are both Croatian, so there won’t be any communication issues there, pair number one. Pair number two sees Leudo and Gallego working together and they both hail from Spanish speaking countries, so once again, communication won’t be an issue. Lastly, Augustine Okrah and Bartholomew Ogbeche, both come from countries (Ghana and Nigeria) where the official language is English. Ultimately, I’ve messed this up though as I’ve just realised there are six foreigners which means it doesn’t work. What we’ll do is take Okrah out and put Khosla, who joined from Minerva Punjab, on the wing.

That leaves Okrah and Juan Cruz Mascia on the bench and if the game is tied around the sixty-minute mark, you can see Schattorie changing things around to cause some damage. Grgic & Komorski’s command of the English language is pretty good, or so I’m led to believe, so you’d think there won’t be any issues between TP and the two centre-backs. Let’s take a look at how FC Goa went 2-1 up against NorthEast United, in the 2-2 draw, in the return fixture.

In The Blink Of An Eye

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Keep an eye on the clock…

Jahouh picks the ball up here with bags of space behind him which could be considered quite the problem when you take his insanely good range of passing into consideration. He takes the ball out of his feet and sprays a lovely ball out to the right-hand side where Lanzarote & Coro are already on the move.

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Coro is already one, well several, steps ahead of Sambinha. (Six seconds have gone.)

The gap between Coro and Sambinha is far too big and you can see the simple ball that Lanzarote has now got to play. Furthermore, it’s evident that is Sambinha realising that Coro is there but at that point, it’s ultimately too little, too late. Lanzarote wasted no time in getting the ball into the box and Coro didn’t need asking twice.

NorthEast United FC Goa Indian Super League ISL Preview
Coro was never going to miss. That took eight seconds.

Sambinha was never going to stop Coro in this situation and it’s no surprise that Coro put the ball away. His composure in situations like this was apparent throughout the majority of last season. TP Rehenesh, in the NorthEast goal, gets fooled by the flight of the ball and moves ever so slightly to his left which means Coro’s job is done for him. Make no mistake, NorthEast could’ve done a lot better from a defensive viewpoint, nevertheless, the sheer velocity of FC Goa’s counter cannot be ignored. It took all of eight seconds from Jahouh receiving the ball to it hitting the back of the net. Superb.

Tough Decisions

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This was so difficult to figure out. Hugo Boumous is one of the stars to watch this season, but I can’t find room for him in the starting XI. Alternatively, Pena will be left out, Mandar comes in at left-back and Boumous takes Brandon’s place. Another ridiculously hard decision was leaving Edu Bedia out in place of Lenny. Now, Lenny was obviously signed to play next to Jahouh so that’s why I’ve done that, although it’s staggering to even consider leaving out Edu Bedia, who was fabulous for the best part of last year.

What we’ll probably see, should this predicted XI prove to be correct, is Mandar come on at the same time as Boumous to even the native to foreigner ratio up. Tough decisions have to be made by both Lobera and Schattorie today and you’d have to argue that whoever gets those right, will perhaps be victorious.

Summary

People say that the bookies are not normally wrong. Well, they have FC Goa as odds-on favourites for the game and it’s hard to disagree. Saying that, NorthEast United are a completely unknown animal and they could well surprise a few people this year and who knows, maybe that will start today? It should be a rather entertaining game as both sides will look to play football and go for the win, I fancy a five-goal thriller.

One More Thing

If I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing over 3.5 goals. Get involved!

Until the next time.