Chennaiyin vs NorthEast United: Preview and Prediction
As the league season comes to a close after five months of riveting football action, Chennaiyin and NorthEast United will lock horns at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium on Friday, as both teams look to finish their campaign on a high.
Although it has been a disappointing season for both sides as they failed to make it to the playoffs, both sets of players will try to give their best and impress their respective coaches, keeping an eye on next season.
The two-time ISL champs come into this fixture on the back of a thrilling 2-1 win over Goa, whereas, the Highlanders suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Odisha in their previous outing. Thomas Brdaric’s men are currently in eighth place on the league standings with 24 points from 19 matches, whereas Vicenzo Alberto Annese’s side remains rooted to the foot of the table, after taking just 5 points from 19 fixtures.
With nothing more than pride at stake, expect both sides to come out all guns blazing at each other.
Talking about the recent performances of both these sides, Brdaric’s men have fared much better, and only if they could have shored up their defensive frailties, the Marina Machans may well have been in contention for a playoff berth.
They managed to score 32 goals during the season, the fourth-highest tally in the league, but they also conceded 34 times, only the Highlanders allowed more goals than the two-time ISL winners.
Having won both of their past two matches, they come into this fixture on a high. On the other hand, Annese’s side who were previously coached by Marco Balbul never really got going in the league, and have remained bottom since the start.
They’ve struggled at both ends of the pitch although the team has improved since the former Gokulam Kerala coach took over. Unfortunately for them, it has been a really disappointing campaign so far, but the Highlanders will hope to end their campaign on a winning note.
The past record between these clubs stands pretty even. These two sides have squared off on 17 occasions in the league and both sides have won 6 matches each, while five games ended all square. The reverse fixture earlier this season was hardly even as the Marina Machans hammered their opponents 7-3.
Brdaric’s side started to pick up momentum after beating the Highlanders earlier in the season but an injury to Abdenasser El Khayati dented their playoff hopes and the Dutchman didn’t feature during the win over the Gaurs.
He’s likely to be absent through injury, while the playing XI is likely to remain the same. Samik Mitra will keep his place in goal, behind a back four of Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Fallou Diagne, Vafa Hakhamaneshi, and Aakash Sangwan.
Julius Duker will take up the holding midfield role, Jiteshwor Singh and Anirudh Thapa will be the creative fulcrum, whereas Rahim Ali and Vincy Barretto will provide service from the flanks to Kwame Karikari.
Coach Annese meanwhile made a few changes to his lineup for their last fixture against the Juggernauts as Wilmar Jordan, Hira Mondal, and Gani Nigam all came into the playing XI while Romain Philippoteaux was dropped to the bench.
A similar side may take to the field on Friday, with Arindam Bhattacharya between the sticks, Hira, Alex Saji, Aaron Evans, and Tondonba Singh marshalling the defense. Nigam is likely to partner with Joseba Beitia while Parthib Gogoi, Jordan, and Jithin Madathil Subran will form the attacking trio to provide service to Kule Mbombo.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chennaiyin (4-1-4-1): Samik Mitra; Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Fallou Diagne, Vafa Hakhamaneshi, Aakash Sangwan; Julius Duker; Rahim Ali, Jiteshwor Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Vincy Barretto; Kwame Karikari.
NorthEast United (4-2-3-1): Arindam Bhattacharya; Hira Mondal, Alex Saji, Aaron Evans, Tondonba Singh; Gani Nigam, Joseba Beitia; Parthib Gogoi, Wilmar Jordan, Jithin Madathil Subran; Kule Mbombo.
Judging by the recent form of both these sides, the Marina Machans will certainly come into this fixture feeling a lot more confident. They’ve won their past two games, while the Highlanders have struggled throughout this season and they are likely to have another tough outing on the road.