Aravind Unnikrishnan discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Kerala Blasters 0-0 Jamshedpur
The goal-shy Kerala Blasters continued their barren-run as they play out a goalless draw against Jamshedpur F.C in the Hero ISL match held at JLN stadium, Kochi. Kerala enjoyed a dominant first half spell which indeed created a ray of hope in a crowd fed up of watching tiresome draws. But it didn’t last for long as Coppell’s team locked horns with counter tactics which effectively kept Rene Meulensteen’s team on their toes and deprived them of a victory.
Kerala’s attack yet to take shape
Rene introduced an attacking line up consisting of three forwards in the likes of C.K Vineeth, Courage Pekuson and Jackichand Singh behind a sole striker Iain Hume. Dimitar Berbatov and Arata Izumi paired in central midfield with the former spear heading the attack and the latter bridging the gap between midfield and defence.
In first half, the system seemed to work with Berbatov – in a newer midfield role – pulling the strings from midfield. However the Bulgarian struggled to find his teammates in space, and this often forced him to make square passes to the player available in their half. His static nature made Kerala’s counter attacks progress at a snail’s pace.
Pekuson, who showed great promise on his debut was a shadow of himself against Jamshedpur. He seemed uncomfortable in his role and his contributions mostly involved clumsy first touches and flawed dashes in the midfield. Often, he overran the ball and gifted possession to the opposition. It was evident that the 22-year old midfielder is more suited to a wing role rather than the unfamiliar supporting act in midfield.
Vineeth played a center forward role behind Iain Hume, but both cut isolated figures as they were starved of supply. They roamed around the field like lost souls and looked desperate to influence the game in their own way, but to no avail.
The squad definitely needs an uplift after another poor showing, but it all depeds on the combination Meulensteen opts for in the next match. Hope he’ll make the right choice.
Steve Coppell’s tactics spot-on
All the criticism aimed at him never hides the fact that the same ‘boring’ tactics helped his former club Kerala Blasters to their second final in three seasons of the ISL.
This time the 32-year-old Mehtab Hossain remained the driving force to frustrate Kerala and did most of the damage to his former club in a much revamped role instituted in second half.
Coppell blended his tactics with a physical game to shut down Kerala’s midfield. It did bear the fruit in second half and created instability in Rene’s delicate attacking structure.
The 62-year-old put Mehtab in a more advanced role to man-mark Berbatov and guided his team to set off on quick counter attacks whenever they regained possession.
Though, physically he’s no match to the Bulgarian, the Indian midfielder did enough to derail the momentum with some strong tackles and provoking battles for the ball.
It’s no surprise that the midfielder bagged the man of the match prize for his prominent role that put them on front foot in the dying minutes of the match.
Winless run a concern for Blasters
The goal-shy Blasters had a glorious chance to open their account with a win in their first two home matches. The JLN stadium had been a fortress for the club, thanks to the vibrant atmosphere in the stadium. But with two goalless draws on the spin, it’s time to take necessary steps to put games to bed in their upcoming home fixtures.
The absence of a plan B to counter the opposition tactics jeopardized their chances in the first two games. The teams find it easier to defend against the one-way attack centered around the big man Dimitar Berbatov. However, his slow-paced buildup is doing little to help orchestrate a dangerous surge into the opposition box. In most cases, the teams are able to crack down on the attacks even before it begins to look threatening. This is a major concern Rene has to address in the upcoming matches.
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