Hrishi Anand discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Chennaiyin FC 2-3 FC Goa
Chennaiyin FC vs FC Goa brought an entertaining game with itself, justifying its reputation as a standout fixture. FC Goa took a 3-0 lead into the second half after excellent attacking play for the first 45 minutes but were sluggish in the second half as Chennaiyin put up a great fight to get two goals back, with some assistance from poor goalkeeping from Goa’s Kattimani. However, it was Goa who took the 3 points away from home despite Chennaiyin’s second half flurry.
John Gregory prioritizes defensive strength but is no match for Goa’s attack
It was interesting to see, prior to the game what shape John Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC took. The Englishman opted for defensive solidity as his side lined up in a 3-4-3 formation which moved into a 5-2-3 when not in possession. Youngster Jerry Lalrinzuala and fellow Indian Thoi Singh played as wing-backs. Interestingly, Inigo Calderon, a defender by trade was offered a free role in the base of midfield playing as a distributer of possession alongside the more tenacious Raphael Augusto. However, the Chennaiyin defense was hugely vulnerable on counter-attacks as Jerry’s mistake following a corner resulted in a well taken goal by Spaniard Ferran Telechea on the counter.
Further defensive chaos led to Goa’s second which was taken with an exquisite chip by Manuel Lanzarote following a series of saves by Karanjit Singh. A third goal followed with another set of defensive lapses. The Chennaiyin team didn’t seem up to the task of executing a difficult three man defense as they were thrown into disarray by ill-disciplined positioning by the wing-backs. Chennayin looked exceptionally unbalanced throughout the first half and all it took were a couple of slick passes from Goa to create goal-scoring opportunities. The home side were more solid in the second half as all the players were returned to their preferred positions. More defensive work on the training ground should be a priority for Gregory.
FC Goa’s attack: Quick and Clinical but Goalkeeping a weak point
Goa coach Sergio Lobera didn’t give away much in his pre-match press conference. The ex Las-Palmas man was well descriptive of his objective to win by playing beautiful football. His FC Goa side were set up perfectly to hit a more possession based Chennaiyin FC on the counter. Goa’s quick incisive passing was both with direction and quality as they were able to create chances at will. Lobera’s side were intelligent in possession and knew how to exploit poor defending from Chennaiyin.
The Spaniards’ Eduardo, Telechea and Lanzarote were excellent in the first half and Goa looked like scoring every time they bombed forward. If this is a sign of things to come, Goa should surely be considered title contenders as they played beautiful football and tore the Chennayin defense to shreds. The Spanish influence of Lobera showed from the first whistle as even FC Goa’s Indian players were well drilled to remain calm in possession. However, Lobera’s plans were in disarray in the second half after some terrible goalkeeping from Laxmikant Kattimani who first mishandled a free-kick from Inigo Calderon and later brought down Jeje in the box and conceded a penalty which was converted by Augusto. The Goan defense also appeared vulnerable to the pace of Jeje and Nelson.
Chennayin’s attack has potential, needs a shape
Chennayin offered virtually nothing going forward in the first half. Players like Thoi Singh and Dhanachandra Singh were played out of position and Chennayin played far too many crosses for Jeje, standing at 176 centimeters. The introduction of Dutchman Gregory Nelson and moving Thoi Singh back into attacking midfield sparked an immediate response as Chennayin hit the post twice following the restart. The trio of Nelson, Jeje and Thoi offered a lot going forward and were unlucky not to score. Coach, John Gregory, has a variety of attacking talent to work with but needs to change his approach from such a direct one to a passing based game.
Gregory Nelson brought a notable change to Chennaiyin’s attack and surely makes a case to start the next game in place of the ineffective Rene Mihelic. A changed side in the second half, Chennaiyin brought speed and enthusiasm to a fantastic second half performance. Inigo Calderon scored from a free-kick and Raphael Augusto converted a penalty as Chennayin put up a great fight. They could have very easily equalized but were unlucky on a few occasions. Goalscoring is far from an issue for Chennaiyin if Gregory plays all his players in their correct positions, defense is what the Englishman needs to work on.
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