Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters FC will lock horns in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Wednesday. With a gap of five points between the sides, this match could be pivotal for both their seasons. After a disappointing Hero ISL campaign last season where neither side was able to finish in the top four, both HFC and KBFC stand a chance to finish in first place this season.

Match 99 Preview: High-flying Hyderabad FC look to inch closer to semi-final berth against Kerala Blasters FC

The foundations for both their turnarounds have been based on their defenses. Kerala Blasters FC has conceded 17 goals, the fewest in the league, and Hyderabad FC have conceded 18 goals, the joint-second lowest in the Hero ISL. This means that both sides concede 1.06 goals per game, which is the joint-best among any side this season.

These stellar performances have been team efforts and not motivated by individual performances. Manuel Marquez’s side faces 3.41 shots on target per game while the Kochi-based outfit faces 3.44 shots on target per game. Both teams also face considerably fewer shots than the league average.

Metrics (Per game) Kerala Blasters FC value Hyderabad FC value League average
Goals conceded 1.06 1.06 1.58
Shots conceded 12.69 10.47 13.26
Shots on target conceded 3.44 3.41 4.22
Shots from inside the box conceded 6.94 6.24 7.61
Chances conceded 8.25 6.82 9.07
Open play shots conceded 8.63 7.64 9.66
Set-piece shots conceded 4.06 2.83 3.6

It clearly proves that this match is going to be decided by thin margins. An area that HFC can exploit is Ivan Vukomanovic’s team's set-piece defending. They have conceded nine goals from dead-ball situations, which is more than they have conceded from open play, and face 4.06 shots from set plays, which is higher than the league average. Hyderabad FC have scored 16 goals from set-pieces, which is the highest in the Hero ISL. So, do not be surprised if the match is decided by a set piece.

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The value of each and every point increases in the final stages of the season and with only a handful of matches left for either side, a victory or defeat could change the trajectory for both teams. In a tight top-four battle, neither side would want to slip up and they will rely on their impregnable defenses to see them through these last few matches.