Vatsal Dani discusses three talking points about the Indian Super League game that finished Mumbai City 1-0 Chennaiyin
Chennayin FC missed the chance to go atop the ISL table as they stumbled at the Mumbai Football Arena. It was a quintessential Mumbai City FC performance on a night where they frustrated their visitors to snatch three points.
The Tamil Nadu based club’s wasteful finishing came to haunt them at the end of 90 minutes as Achille Emana converted a controversial penalty to seal the three points for the hosts. The win keeps the western club’s hopes of a semi-final berth alive.
Here are the three talking points from the highly tactical affair in Mumbai.
Mumbai Fail To Hit It Long
Mumbai’s love for no-nonsense direct attacking approach has been instrumental in their recent turn of fortunes in the league. Last season it was Diego Forlan’s expert ball retention and smart layoffs which got the job done. This term, the lack of a striker who can recycle those long balls is slowly starting to hurt Alexandre Guimaraes’ side. Balwant Singh and Rafa Jorda aren’t that great when it comes to beating defenders in air. Inaccurate passing didn’t help the hosts’ case as well. Too much reliance on Emana in the final third is one of the reasons for the blunting of this direct style. Long balls aid in quick offensive transition. Instead, Mumbai gave away the ball too cheaply making them vulnerable to Chennai’s counters. The Mumbaikars need to hone their passing skills especially whilst building from the back. Emana’s aerial prowess can be used more effectively whilst pumping the ball higher-up the pitch as they desperately need someone to smartly recycle these optimistic balls.
Hosts’ Fullback Conundrum
The rock solid Islanders’ defense is finally having a couple of pores of vulnerability. The fullbacks have been very unconvincing throughout the season. Raju Gaikwad is relegated to the bench thanks to his woeful start to the season. Ruidas is patched up as a leftback but his lack of positional awareness was readily exposed by Chennayin’s wingers. The visitors were easily able to cross the ball into dangerous positions inside the penalty box. Davinder Singh was slightly better than Ruidas but if not for Amrinder Singh, Gerson and Goian’s heroics in the defensive third, Chennayin would’ve ran away with this tie in first half. The inability of Mumbai fullbacks to block crosses is something which should give Guimaraes sleepless nights. The Costa Rican boss needs to toughen up his fullbacks else this may cost the Maharashtra club’s title chances.
Wasteful Chennayin Pay The Price
For the better part of the game, high-flying Chennayin FC had the home team on the guillotine, if only they possessed a dash of accuracy in the Mumbai Football Arena. Mohammed Rafi was the perpetrator in chief as he missed three clear headers just four yards from the goal. Thoi Singh, Jerry Lalrinzuala and Rene Mihelic sliced open Mumbai’s defense almost at will in the first half. Jerry, in particular was the brightest spark for the Chennai team. His pinpoint crosses and graft down the flank made life miserable for Ruidas on the left wing. Jeje Lalpekhlua too couldn’t get his shooting boots on as he failed to get past Goian and Gerson’s barricade. Last season’s finalists could’ve looked for some inspiration in other attacking positions but sadly none could rise up to the occasion. John Gregory needs to chalk out alternate plans to break down dogged defenses like Mumbai. For most of the second half, he seemed out of his depth to counter the Islanders’ slow resurgence in the latter parts of the game.
(Featured image via ISL)
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