Talking Point: Will Hyderabad’s fullbacks be the difference against Chennaiyin?

Hyderabad FC will target doing the double over Chennaiyin FC in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 when the two sides meet at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Sunday. Manuel Marquez’s men registered an emphatic 4-1 win over Chennaiyin earlier in the season and they will be eager to reproduce a similar performance when the teams square off for a second time. The Marina Machans, on the other hand, are winless in their last three matches and must start picking up wins soon if they want to keep their semi-final chances alive. Here’s a closer look at some of the factors that may decide which side emerges on top during Sunday’s clash.

Hyderabad boast the best fullback duo in the league

Hyderabad’s fullback duo of Asish Rai and Akash Mishra have done an exceptional job both in defence and while bombing forward in attack. Asish has taken the most touches of the ball for Hyderabad (912) and Akash has the second highest touches (886). Their 55 attempted tackles each is the most by a Hyderabad player and the 39 interceptions each is also the most by a player from the team. Going forward, Asish has completed 22 successful dribbles – the highest by a Hyderabad player – and Akash comes in second among Hyderabad players with 18 successful dribbles. Furthermore, Asish has two assists and Akash has one so far, which is a good indicator of the attacking threat that they possess.

Chennaiyin’s failure to convert chances is hurting them

Chennaiyin have scored just 11 goals so far – the lowest in the league – and need to rectify their final third shortcomings at the earliest. They have taken third highest shots in the league (183) and are also third in the charts for most chances created (147). However, their failure to make the most of their chances is what’s been holding them back and their goal conversion rate of 6.01% isn’t just lowest in the league this season but also the lowest conversion rate in Hero ISL history. Their set-piece record of having the most shots (43) from such situations but only scoring four goals from them isn’t the best either.

Hyderabad’s frontmen may be peaking at the right time

Aridane Santana scored an important goal for Hyderabad in their last match against Bengaluru FC to spark their comeback. The Spaniard now has seven goals for the Telangana-based club and an in-form Santana is good news for Hyderabad. His return to form will be welcomed by Manuel Marquez, in particular, especially since the goals seemed to dry up prior to their last outing. Besides Santana, Fran Sandaza scoring a late equaliser in their last match is also a positive for the club. If the Spanish strike duo of Santana and Sandaza along with the always lively Joel Chianese do find their best form in the busines end of the league, not many defences will be looking ahead to facing them.

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