Forecast of goals as Chennaiyin host Goa in semis first leg
Chennaiyin FC host FC Goa in the first leg of their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 semi-final clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. The Marina Machans finished fourth in the league stage, completing what was a marvellous turnaround after a rocky start to their campaign. Goa, meanwhile, finished on top of the league standings and come into the tie having already won the League Winners Shield.
Historically, Chennaiyin have done better when the two sides have clashed in the knockout stages of the Hero ISL. They’ve won two of the three meetings, including the memorable Hero ISL 2015 final, with the other fixture ending in a draw. Goa, on their part, will hardly be fazed by the stat, having won both matches against the Tamil Nadu-based club in the league phase this season.
Owen Coyle’s arrival in December turned Chennaiyin’s Hero ISL 2019-20 campaign on its head. With just a single win in their first six matches and having failed to score in four of these, the two-time champions were struggling near the bottom of the table before the Irishman arrived to take over the reins. Coyle’s tactics and man management skills immediately transformed the team and led the club to the semi-finals in emphatic fashion.
Coming into the first leg, the Marina Machans are unbeaten in eight matches – the longest unbeaten run in the Hero ISL 2019-20. They’ve won six of those encounters, with the standout victories coming against Kerala Blasters FC, ATK FC and Mumbai City FC. Besides scoring goals almost at will, Coyle’s side has also been steady at the back of late, conceding just three goals in their last four matches and keeping two clean sheets.
Chennaiyin’s first-choice back four was rested in the club’s last match against NorthEast United FC, and will be fresh as they go up against Goa’s fearsome attack led by the prolific Ferran Corominas. The mix of physicality and pace in the Chennaiyin’s defence will be crucial against the Gaurs, who’ve scored a league-high 46 goals in the season so far.
However, like Goa, Chennaiyin’s biggest strength is their attack and they’ll surely be focusing on how best to utilize it against Mourtada Fall and Co. Striker Nerijus Valskis and playmaker Rafael Crivellaro are both in scintillating form and have the requisite tools to seriously trouble Goa’s defence. Crivellaro is especially good at finding pockets of space, which will be in abundance against the Gaurs, who like to play expansive football.
Should that happen, Coyle will be hoping that his defence, along with the midfield duo of Anirudh Thapa and Edwin Vanspaul can hold fort and free up Valskis, Crivellaro, Andre Schembri and Lallianzuala Chhangte to do their thing up front. Coyle will be missing defender Tondonba Singh in the match due to a suspension.
Having finished at the top of the Hero ISL 2019-20 table, the Gaurs achieved a major objective they had for the season. Securing the AFC Champions League spot was something that every club set out to achieve when the season began, but none of them could match Goa’s tremendous consistency week in week out. Even with their long-standing head coach, Sergio Lobera’s sudden departure, the Gaurs continued their stunning form on the pitch, scoring 14 goals and winning all three matches since. In fact, the Gaurs come into the match on the back of a five-match win streak.
Goa’s last win, which was against Jamshedpur FC, was the club’s 50th victory in the Hero ISL. The margin of the 5-0 result was the club’s biggest away victory in the history of the competition. So far, the Gaurs have scored 46 goals in 18 matches – the most by any team in a single Hero ISL season. The club is averaging more than 2.5 goals a game so far this term and have already scored seven goals in the two matches against Chennaiyin this season.
Besides the ever-present Corominas who, once again, is leading the scoring charts for Goa, midfielder Hugo Boumous has been a revelation and is having his best campaign for the club. The Frenchman is the top-scoring midfielder this term with 11 goals from 14 matches. Additionally, Boumous has provided a league-high 10 assists, making him the division’s top creator. The 24-year-old has on average created an opening after every 14th pass – something which could force Chennaiyin into attempting to mark him out of the encounter.
Defensively, however, the Gaurs have their work cut out since the Marina Machans have a potent attack themselves. Fall and Carlos Pena will need to be on their toes, with support from Lenny Rodrigues and Ahmed Jahouh imperative if the club is to take a first leg lead back to Goa.
Chennaiyin FC: Vishal Kaith, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Lucian Goian, Eli Sabia, Laldinliana Renthlei, Anirudh Thapa, Edwin Vanspaul, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Rafael Crivellaro, Andre Schembri, Nerijus Valskis
FC Goa: Mohammad Nawaz (GK), Carlos Pena, Chinglensana Singh, Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai, Lenny Rodrigues, Ahmed Jahouh, Brandon Fernandes, Jackichand Singh, Hugo Boumous, Ferran Corominas
Did you know?
- FC Goa have scored 17 set piece goals this season, including 8 from free kicks. (both highest in league)
- Chennaiyin FC have scored 7 injury time goals. (highest among the 4 semi-finalists)
- FC Goa have conceded only 1 injury time goal. (lowest among the 4 semi-finalists)
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Semi-final 1 Leg 1: Chennaiyin FC vs FC Goa
Date: February 29 (Saturday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV
Which team will seize the initiative going into next week’s second leg tie?
- Chennaiyin FC
- FC Goa
Leave your choice in the comments below.