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Talking Points from the high-scoring thriller between Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa

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Talking Points from the high-scoring thriller between Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa

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SportsCafe Desk


After FC Goa’s domineering first-half display saw them lead the hosts by three goals, a rejuvenated Chennaiyin FC came agonizingly close to getting a draw before they falling short by just one goal. Finishing bottom of the table last season, FC Goa look like a completely different side this time.

Sergio Lobera brings in a footballing style ISL hasn’t seen before

When a young Sergio Lobera was asked why FC Goa didn’t choose to retain any of the players from their last season, the coach had said that they did thorough research on the kind of players they needed and who would suit their kind of play. And the youngest ISL manager has kept his promise. FC Goa has brought on a style of play in the Indian league no team has ever done in the past three seasons. Who knew doing something as simple as keeping the ball flawlessly could inflict such suffering on opponents.

Every move of the three goals of the visitors started right from the back. The four defenders- Narayan Das, Bruno Pinheiro, Mohamed Ali and Seriton Fernandes - showed tremendous composure on the ball completing 131 passes with a 78% accuracy. Their exceptional ability to hold the ball turned out to be the differentiator in the first-half as Chennai players were drawn out of their positions time and again.

The defenders almost always had a spare man nearby and Chennayin players realised their ploy too little too late. Bruno was the architect of it all, who with an 88% passing accuracy instilled the tiki-taka passing at Goa’s backline. With the visitors enjoying the lion’s share of the possession, Chennai were bound to find it frustrating and their lack of patience became the biggest chunk in their armour. Defending with a 4-4-1-1 setup, the hosts often found themselves ending up in three vs three situations on the break as they would all close in on Goa players, and after a few lucky escapes Goa did start taking their chances with deflections helping their cause as well.  

Chennai solves Goa puzzle too little too late

As tiki-taka was highly susceptible to high-pressing, which the footballing world later realised, John Gregory, too, found it only after conceding three goals. Given the high scoring history that the fixture has always maintained over the past three seasons, Chennai were bound to improve in the second-half.

Gregory had plenty to deal with at half-time and he brought on Bikramjit Singh and Gregory Nelson in place of tired D’achandra Singh and Rene Mielic. And things looked to improve massively in the midfield as the hosts hit the crossbar twice within five minutes. Though tiredness creeping in Goa players was also a significant factor in the second half, Chennai’s high pressure did make things worse for them.

After maintaining such a high tempo in the opening half, FC Goa were happy to sit deep most of the latter half. One could only absorb so much pressure and Chennaiyin FC, who hardly managed a shot in the whole of first-half, suddenly started finding holes. Though both of their goals came from goalkeeping errors, Chennai players should credit themselves for forcing those errors. 

The Showstopper

The manner in which Manuel Lanzarote got his goal was enough to get him the Man of the Match honour. The former Barcelona reserve player was the lynchpin to FC Goa’s beautiful machinery boasting a 71% passing accuracy. The midfielder created three chances for his side, getting one assist and scored a goal after with just four attempts.

With a Spanish manager at the helm, some of his native talents were bound to make their way in and the gaffer has handpicked some real gems it seems in Lanzarote, Copa Del Rey winner Ferran Corominas and fan favourite Bruno Pinheiro, Lobera has gifted beauty and perfection to the Gaurs.

One other significant cog in FC Goa’s wheel was Corominas. The forward had everything spot-on today and it reaped fruits for the player with a goal. With a passing accuracy of 79% and some exquisite touches in the thick of the midfield, Corrominas needed just two attempts to find the goal. Other teams will surely have to watch out the Spanish Armada FC Goa has now, as they will only improve with every passing game. 

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