Hyderabad FC vs Odisha FC: A fascinating tactical battle on the cards
Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC have hit the ground running in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 campaign and find themselves among the top three teams as they head into their first meeting of the campaign at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium in Hyderabad on Saturday.
The two teams have a lot more in common than a fast start to the new season and the similarities begin from the dugout. In Manolo Marquez and Josep Gombau, the two clubs are led by two Spanish head coaches who have similar playing philosophies.
Building up from the back, using the full width of the pitch to play and defending from the front are some of the hallmarks of the playing styles of Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC.
With very little to choose between the two teams on the table and in the way they play their football, it will be the finer details that decide the contest on Saturday.
Pressing teams high up the pitch and recovering the ball in a much advanced position on the pitch is an idea that’s gaining popularity around the world and the Hero ISL teams are not far behind in terms of incorporating it into their playing systems. Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC perhaps lead the way when it comes to making their forward line their first line of defence and in turn making their press the first step towards scoring a goal.
Hyderabad FC have made 46 recoveries in the opponent’s half while Odisha FC have won the ball back in the opposition’s half on 40 occasions which shows their commitment to limiting the opposition in their own half.
While broadly there may be similarities between the way Odisha FC and Hyderabad FC press, there are key fundamental differences that make this tie even more fascinating.
Erik Paartalu’s take:
Hyderabad FC usually sit in well defensively when the other team is building up and start their defensive press a little further back compared to Odisha FC. Bartholomew Ogbeche and Javier Silverio are the catalysts for the press. When the opposition gets closer to the halfway line one goes and the other backs it up making sure the opposition cannot go back the other way and they force the play into one side of the pitch. That's when the team gets closer and tries to take the ball in a condensed space.
Both Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC use wide areas to progress the ball a lot. This can be seen by the percentage of passes that the two teams play in those zones. Marquez’s side plays over 70% of their passes in wide areas of the pitch while Odisha FC have over 65% of their passes in the same zones.
Erik Paartalu’s take:
Both Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC are very Spanish in the way they build up their play. A lot of emphasis rests on the No 6 to drop in and receive the ball early. The full-backs push high and wide and make the game big. This is more evident with Odisha FC who take more risks while playing out from the back than Hyderabad FC and so far it has been working for them.
Playing out from the back is risky but it also has high rewards. You can suck an opponent in towards the goal making them think they can nick it, only to play around and through that pressure to get the halfway line usually with an open space to step into and be in the opponent's half with a man facing forward with space in front.
Attacking-wise, wingers and full-backs are crucial in both systems. A lot of overlapping is expected and support for one another to create chances and be the go-to men on counterattacks.
Where the game will be won and lost?
Bartholomew Ogbeche has a stunning record against Odisha FC having scored seven goals and recorded one assist in the six games that he has played against the Juggernauts. This is the kind of 50-50 game where he usually makes the difference and history suggest that he often is the thorn in the flesh for Odisha FC.
For Hyderabad FC, who can play any team off the pitch with their technical game-play on a given day, their ability on set-pieces makes them an even tougher proposition.
Marquez’s side have scored five out of their eight goals using dead-ball situations which is the highest in the league. Teams as evenly matched as Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC often cancel each other out on the pitch and set-plays could often decide the contest.
However, Odisha FC’s strength despite all their attacking exploits this season has been their defence. The Juggernauts have conceded just 34 shots on goal this season which is the fewest among all Hero ISL teams. If they can manage to keep the Hyderabad FC attack at bay, they could fancy a chance at the other end in the 90 minutes to claim all three points.
Erik Paartalu’s take
Hyderabad FC have a more settled shape and take fewer risks than Odisha FC but that comes from the team being together longer and having experience in this league.
Odisha FC are re-starting under Gombau and at the moment are full of confidence and take more risk in their build-up. That's where Hyderabad FC can possibly get an opportunity to score this week when Odisha FC are building up.
If they can wait for the right time to press and pounce on a mistake, they have the players going forward to exploit the spaces created by Odisha FC's high and wide build-up strategy.
Conversely, if Odisha FC could play through the Hyderabad FC press, and get themselves into their half then they could be in business with the likes of Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Nandhakumar Sekar who have the pace on the wings and the ability to get that ball to target man Diego Mauricio.
Whichever way this game goes, it is certain to entertain the crowds in the stands and the neutrals watching all over India. For students of the game who cherish an intense tactical battle, the Hyderabad FC vs Odisha FC clash will have it all.