ISL Analysis | NorthEast United pay the price for sloppy defence

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ISL Media

ISL Analysis | NorthEast United pay the price for sloppy defence

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Subhayan Dutta

12/08/2017

NorthEast United failed to keep their winning run going after a resurgent win against Delhi in the last game as they went down 1-0 to Bengaluru FC in Guwahati. The Highlanders would need to take a hard look at themselves after they got numerous chances to equalize and perhaps even win the game.

Defence continues to be the biggest chink in NorthEast United’s armour

Defence has been a serious problem for NorthEast United for quite some time now. Their last win against Delhi Dynamos saw the latter messing up numerous chances to equalize, but Bengaluru weren’t going to commit the same mistakes. And after some easy misses in the first-half they nailed one in, which unsurprisingly came from a defensive howler.

TP Rehnesh, who was NorthEast’s hero last game was at fault here, an overweight flat pass to Goncalves fell at the feet of Udanta Singh who was lurking behind the centre-half. However, the Highlanders’ defensive problems are much more fundamental than just a goalkeeping blunder, which lies with their centre-halves Sambinha and Goncalves.

Both centre-backs are superior athletically and quite understandably it suits NorthEast’s free flowing setup, but they lack the very basic understanding of defence. Their sense of positioning has been terrible and Bengaluru could have exploited it in the 14th minute when Miku missed a sitter, or in the 21st when Sunil Chhetri blasted it up from close range, or in the 84th minute when Braulio Nobrega hit straight at the shotstopper.

All of these attacks came mainly from the hosts getting outrun in awkward positions by forwards time and again and though the defensive duo would boast of 13 clearances and 2 clearances, they are hardly going to help NorthEast improve at the back this season.

NorthEast United’s attack back to square one

The Highlanders were culprit of lacking substance in their stylish buildup in the first two games, until Halicharan Narzary turned the catalyst against Delhi last game. However, they looked like they had taken a backward step on Friday as they missed numerous chances with Bengaluru FC running away with the pie.

Quite expectantly, NorthEast were the more offensive side and they attempted a staggering 17 shots on the goal throughout the game with seven on target. They even managed to put in 17 crosses into the box and with players like Marcinho, Danilo Lopes and Narzary up top, those chances were sufficient enough for one to get in.

The first real chance came in the 34th minute when Marcinho and Lopes combined well before the striker miscued his shot wide of the goal with no pressure whatsoever. And it has been the story of the game throughout. Whether it was two very close attempts by their No.10 in the first-half, or Narzary’s 67th minute howler that was shot just wide or more importantly, Lopes missing perhaps the easiest chance of the game in the 90th minute when a perfect ball set by Sambinha was hit straight at the keeper.

The Showstopper

Erik Paartalu is definitely turning out to be the buy of the season. The towering midfielder plays the crucial role of knitting together a Bengaluru side, which is comprised of offensive-minded individuals who look to take their chances from the very first whistle. Bengaluru don’t rely on quality passing or systematic pressing down of opponents, but their tactics have always been to thrive on more number of counter attacks.

And it is Paartalu who ensures that their attacking midfielders spends more time on the ball throughout the game. The Australian has already established himself as one of the biggest threats from set-pieces, but it is his brilliant hold-up play that makes him so much helpful.

Against a meek defence like that of NorthEast, Bengaluru threw bodies up at every chance they got, which demanded their full-backs Harmanjot Khabra and Subhasish Bose to play as wingers more often. Paartalu had to fall back in those spaces time and again as he single-handedly stopped numerous attacks before it could develop. Having a passing accuracy of 75%, the Australian made 3 interceptions and the same number of blocks apart from creating many half-chances that died down due to the forwards’ sloppiness.

 

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