Talking Point: Can NorthEast United arrest their three-match winless run against Odisha?

After kicking off their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 campaign on a strong note, NorthEast United FC are winless in their last three matches with two draws and one loss. They will square off against an Odisha FC side that has managed just one draw in six matches and the Highlanders will fancy getting the better of the Bhubaneswar-based club. Here we have a look at some of the talking points that could have a bearing on the outcome of Tuesday’s encounter between the teams.

Odisha FC are lacking teeth up front

Spanish striker Manuel Onwu has been a far cry from the clinical frontman that found the back of the net for fun while on loan with Odisha last season. The club’s disappointing form in front of goal though cannot be entirely pinned on him with their other attacking players also struggling to make the most of their chances. The Bhubaneswar-based club has scored just three goals in six matches this season and they have also taken the fewest shots for a team this season (52) with only 50% of them coming from inside the box. Their wingers’ lack of creativity is also evident by the fact that they have attempted 52 crosses but only 10 of them have been completed.

NorthEast United need to start converting their penalties

The Highlanders have scored eight goals this season, but they could have had 10 if their strikers had converted two of the four penalties that they had won. Idrissa Sylla’s spot kick for NorthEast United against Jamshedpur was saved by goalkeeper TP Rehenesh and condemned them to their first loss of the campaign. In a season where penalties have been aplenty (17), NorthEast have a conversion rate of 50%. They will play against an Odisha side that has already given away three penalties this season and if the Highlanders do get another chance from the spot, NorthEast will know that they must do better.

Can Marcelo Pereira be the difference against the Highlanders?

A quality signing for Odisha FC ahead of Hero ISL 2020-21, at lot was expected from Marcelo Pereira, who hasn’t set the stage ablaze this season to put things mildly. While there’s no doubting his ability, Marcelo hasn’t exactly put his best foot forward whenever on the pitch. However, the Brazilian can take heart from the fact that he has a strong record against NorthEast United having scored seven goals in seven matches against the Highlanders in the past. That said, he will be up against a new-look Highlanders team that has shown that they are ready to compete with the best in the league. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see whether Marcelo even makes the starting XI or is left on the bench for a fourth straight game.

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