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ISL 2019 | Squad Analysis of FC Goa for season five

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ISL 2019 | Squad Analysis of FC Goa for season five

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Subhayan Dutta

09/27/2018

FC Goa were easily the most eye-catching team to watch last season with Sergio Lobera indoctrinating the Spanish way of football in no time. Though it helped them reach the playoffs, the essence faded away in later stages and their next target this season should ideally be to aim for the title.

Lobera had announced his arrival in ISL with as many as six Spanish players following him. The Spanish Armada not only gave him an identity but soon became the stars of the league themselves. However, his two main players – Manuel Lanzarote and Ferran Corominas - will not feature together this time around with the former moving to ATK. Goa haven’t made numerous changes this season, hinting that Lobera would stick to his tiki taka tactics with the players well acquainted with it although the departure of Lanzarote has prompted them to go for India’s star forward Jackichand Singh and Spain’s Miguel Palanca.

Defence

Lobera’s penchant for going on the attack has one big flaw, like most teams of the same nature – a weak defence. Despite Goa being the highest scorer in the league (42 goals) last time, they have also conceded as many as 28 goals – something Lobera would have to be careful of this time around.  

He has brought in Bengaluru FC’s Lalthuammawia Ralte to stand between the sticks in place of the ever leaking Laxmikant Kattimani. The goalie from Goa was one of the main reasons for Goa conceding silly goals as he let in as many as 23 goals in 13 matches. Ralte was a second choice for Bengaluru FC last season and could play just two matches, managing to keep a clean sheet.

However, goalkeeping wasn’t Goa’s only problem. The back four had their loopholes too and Goa have tried to rectify some of that. Portugal’s Bruno Pinheiro and Mohammed Ali were Goa’s two centre-halves last season with Sergio Juste coming in the later part. With Juste now gone, Goa have Jonathan Cardozo and Senegal’s Mourtada Fall in the midst, who could provide both physicality and flair from the back. 

The seamless transition that Goa need in their passing play saw a big obstacle in their faulty defence last season and they have gone a long way to attain it. To reduce that, they have brought in two full-backs – Carlos Pena and Nirmal Chettri. Despite not being to able impress in NorthEast United colours, Chettri is now getting regular chances in the national team for his ability to read the game well, which could be a huge weapon for Goa. 35-year-old Pena is a La Masia product who, despite his age, will bring a plethora of experience after playing in La Liga for quite a few years.

Midfield

Despite Lanzarote and Coro getting the numbers up top, Edu Bedia was the lynchpin to Goa’s play. Sitting deep in the midfield alongside Ahmed Jahouh, both of them played perfect fodder to the attacking midfield. As the season progressed and injuries crept in, Pronay Halder also played a crucial role in Bedia’s absence. Hence, his departure had left a huge void for Goa to fill and they have rightly got in Lenny Rodriguez from Bengaluru.

Playing in the defensive midfield, the combative midfielder excels in winning the ball and pushing it up. He might not be a creator like Bedia but Rodriguez has enormous experience playing for the likes of FC Pune City, Mohun Bagan AC, Churchill Brothers and more apart from Bengaluru. He could be a proper leadership material as well and Lobera’s 4-2-3-1 should get the much needed discipline in his presence. Apart from them, Goa also havePratesh Shirodhkar and Hugo Boumos as backup, although they hardly look the backup who could fill in for the starting duo in terms of quality.

Attack

Lobera’s biggest pieces of the puzzle lie here. Though Lanzarote’s departure and the void was quickly dismissed by Coro who stated that goals could come from multiple sources and that would happen once the team gels, it doesn’t take a genius to guess that Goa have taken a hit. The arrival of Jackichand Singh would definitely inject enormous pace to the side, but it is also a known fact that the winger is far from a finished product and could only get involved in five goals last season for Kerala Blasters.

For me, the more effective option on the flank of Goa would be Mandar Rao Desai, who scored five goals and provided four assists last season when Lanzarote and Coro were running the show. The 26-year-old has shown good maturity up front and now with former Espanyol player Miguel Palanca also joining the side, Goa could expect the same intensity up top. 

Strengths and Weaknesses

It is clear as water here. Their strength is obviously their attack with the golden boot winner from last season getting joined by the likes of Jackichand, Manvir Singh, and Palanca, and Goa would definitely start with that vigour that had taken the ISL by storm in the initial stages. However, their weaknesses remain the same from last season. Though in Pena and Fall, they have two promising signings, the lack of Indian players and an unproved Ralte would be like a sword hanging over Goa’s head every time the opponent attacks.

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