Chennaiyin vs East Bengal: Preview and Prediction
Opposite poles will collide at the Tilak Stadium Stadium on Friday when Chennaiyin will cross swords with East Bengal. The former has had a dream start to their Indian Super League 2021-22 campaign whilst the latter has continued to struggle defensively despite making wholesale changes to their roster ahead of the season.
Under the guidance of new manager Bozidar Bandovic, the Marina Machans have looked well-drilled in their first couple of matches, picking up all six points. East Bengal management also appointed a new manager in Manolo Diaz, but he has not been able to deliver instant results as the Red and Golds have picked up only one point from their first three fixtures.
How have they done so far?
Chennaiyin is currently at the third position in the league table – tied on points with Mumbai City, Odisha, and ATK Mohun Bagan after winning their first two matches. Bandovic’s men started their season against Hyderabad where the Nizams dominated possession but to no avail as a Chennaiyin player in Vladimir Koman scored the solitary goal.
They emerged as 2-1 winners in their last game against NorthEast United with Indian youngsters Lallianzuala Chhangte and Anirudh Thapa getting their names on the scoresheet.
On the contrary, East Bengal is reeling at tenth place, having picked up one point from their first three matches. The start was not terrible, as Diaz’s boys managed to hold Owen Coyle’s Jamshedpur to a 1-1 stalemate but things have gone downhill ever since.
The Red and Golds suffered a 3-0 defeat in their second game against arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan and then got battered 6-4 by Odisha in their last game.
Head to Head Record
East Bengal and Chennaiyin have crossed paths twice in this competition and neither game could produce a winner.
The first meeting between these two teams ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw where Matti Steinmann scored a brace for the Kolkata-based team while Chhangte and Rahim Ali were on the scoresheet for the Marina Machans. The second meeting, however, was not half as exciting, as both teams failed to breach the opponent’s defense resulting in a frustrating 0-0 draw.
Despite his team keeping a clean sheet in their season opener, Bandovic tweaked his backline in the last game by replacing Salam Ranjan Singh with Narayan Das, as the former was caught out of position time and again against Hyderabad.
The Montenegrin manager is expected to field the experienced Das in this game as well and we can expect to see an unchanged starting XI from the 2-1 win against the Highlanders. Brazilian midfielder Rafael Crivellaro is yet to recover from his injury but former Monaco midfielder Koman has done a commendable job in filling up his boots.
Unlike Chennaiyin, it will be a big surprise if we don’t see changes being made to the East Bengal playing XI after conceding six goals in their last match. Raju Gaikwad could be shifted to right-back with Joyner Lourenco having hardly any impact on the proceedings while Hyderabad loanee Adil Khan can be deployed at central defense.
Another loanee in Amarjit Singh Kiyam can be preferred to underperforming Slovenian midfielder Amir Dervisevic partnering Sidoel in the middle of the park. Upfront, Diaz can use the overseas strike pair of Antonio Perosevic and Chima.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Chennaiyin (4-2-3-1): Vishal Kaith; Reagan Singh, Slavko Damjanovic, Narayan Das, Jerry Lalrinzuala; Anirudh Thapa, Ariel Borysiuk; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Vladimir Koman, Milan Murzaev; Rahim Ali.
SC East Bengal (4-2-2-2): Suvam Sen; Raju Gaikwad, Adil Khan, Franjo Prce, Hira Mondal; Naorem Mahesh, Darren Sidoel, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Bikash Jairu; Antonio Perosevic, Daniel Chima Chukwu.
Bandovic’s boys have not played ultra-attacking football or scored goals aplenty. In fact, only Goa has scored fewer goals than the Chennai-based side but the Marina Machans are a committed and tactically-sharp team, where each player knows exactly what is expected from him.
East Bengal is at the opposite end of the spectrum, with team combination and playing style being almost non-existent. Factoring these points, we have predicted a 3-1 win for Chennaiyin.