ISL 2017 Analysis | Clinical Chennaiyin outclass North East United

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ISL Media

ISL 2017 Analysis | Clinical Chennaiyin outclass North East United

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Subhayan Dutta


A clinical Chennaiyin FC side saw off a lackluster NorthEast United, who showed a surprisingly degrading display, by a score of 3-0 at the Marina Arena today. Chennaiyin outplayed and outfoxed their opponents from the first whistle till the last and the final result was a testament to their efforts.

Lesson learned, points gained

Chennai did their homework diligently and didn’t let their last defeat, against FC Goa, dishearten them. Goa and NorthEast United have played a similar brand of football so far - slow, composed, and gripping - and as soon as John Gregory realized it, he knew his move. While the high-pressing game had almost helped Chennai make a comeback against Goa, it worked like a charm this time around. Though the first-half goals might have looked like defensive errors, it was just Chennai cornering opponents at every chance with beautiful zonal marking that led to counter attacks.

Gregory started with the Indian midfield duo of Bikramjit Singh and Dhanpal Ganesh, who despite having only 55% passing accuracy, weren’t afraid of doing the dirty work in midfield. Chennai committed smart fouls, which more than anything broke NorthEast’s flow every time they attempted to go upfield. NorthEast were restricted to having weak attempts at the goal which were no threat whatsoever to the Chennai defence. Center-half Sereno Fonseca took up the main job with five fouls committed, four clearances and two blocks and even managed to escape any booking which would have delighted his coach.     

NorthEast’s uncharacteristic play brought the sword upon them

Last game, the Highlanders were accused of exhibiting style over substance as they just fell short of a win against newbies Jamshedpur FC. And while they should have actually improved upon it this time, they chose to play a game that is totally uncharacteristic of their style.  The side, who are known for their ability to hold the ball and pass perfectly, ended up committing 23 fouls with hardly any end product. Their golden chance was in the initial stages of the second-half when Chennai sat back for twenty minutes, but a wasteful NorthEast squandered chances time and again.  

Their second half display was more composed once again but they weren’t really in the game right from the start. With the aerial route not working for them, the team didn’t try to use their wide players, producing only nine crosses in the whole 90 minutes despite having a clinical number 9 in Danilo Cezario. The Brazilian could only get two shots on goal and that too from harmless distances. The players would surely return home confused by their mingled display that had everything but intent.   

The Showstopper

With a game that hardly produced any genuine chances, Raphael Augusto made the most of the few opportunities he got. Though both the goals will have more of NorthEast’s defence to blame, it was Augusto’s nose for the goal that made him the key man for the hosts. His main strength was his passing - 45 passes with an accuracy of 62%. But it wasn’t just his goals offensive contribution that set him apart from the rest. His workrate throughout the game was brilliant and he was always the willing runner trying to get open to help his teammates pick up passes in the final third. He has already matched his contribution, as far as goals are concerned, in just two goals this season and if he can keep it up, Chennai might have a great chance to make it to the playoffs again this year.

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