Talking point: Can Kerala Blasters complete unlikely double over top four contenders Hyderabad?

Hyderabad FC take on Kerala Blasters FC in match 96 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Tuesday. Goals from Abdul Hakku and Jordan Murray sealed a 2-0 victory for the Blasters against Hyderabad in the reverse fixture. Since then, Hyderabad have gone on to fight for a place in the top four, while the Blasters have struggled to put together a consistent run of positive results. However, Kerala will be hoping to complete the double over Hyderabad and here we look at some talking points from the upcoming fixture.

Hyderabad’s attacking trident can lead them into the top four

Hyderabad have been ably led by their skipper Aridane Santana, who is their top goal-scorer this season with his late equaliser against SC East Bengal being his eight strike of the campaign. Heading into their final three matches of the season, the attacking trio of Joel Chianese, Santana and Fran Sandaza will hope to be at their best. The three forwards have scored 13 goals between them and will be eager to express themselves against Kerala’s leaky defence, which has conceded 29 times so far.

Kerala’s inability to hold on to leads has cost them

The Blasters have lost 18 points after scoring the first goal, which is the most for a team in Hero ISL 2020-21. Kerala can blame their defensive shortcomings for throwing away leads, especially since they were in strong positions in several games. As mentioned earlier, they have conceded 29 goals and even though Albino Gomes has been one of their best players, the Kerala goalkeeper has only kept three clean sheets this season. One of them came against Hyderabad in the reverse fixture and Kibu Vicuna will hope for a similar shut out on Tuesday.

Can Narzary find form ahead of crucial matches?

One of Hyderabad’s standout performers this season has been Halicharan Narzary. The India international has four goals for the Telangana-based club, which is the second most by a Hyderabad player after their skipper Santana. However, the winger has failed to find the net in their last five matches, which is a slight cause for concern for Hyderabad’s coaching staff. He’s only managed one shot on target in their last five matches but has also created 10 chances for Hyderabad in that time. Narzary’s return to goal-scoring form against his former team will be a welcome boost and could be key in their battle for the two remaining semi-final spots.

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