Chennaiyin vs Odisha: Preview and Prediction
Both Chennaiyin and Odisha’s resurgent form has tailed off in recent weeks, and they have dropped down to eighth and seventh place in the league standings. With just five matches remaining for both teams, the race for the top six continues to heat up as nine teams still remain in the hunt for playoffs.
Matchday 18 kicks off on Thursday with Thomas Brdaric’s side slated to host Josep Gambau’s men at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium. The Marina Machans come into the fixture on the back of a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bengaluru, while the Juggernauts slumped to a 2-0 defeat against ATK Mohun Bagan.
The home side has amassed 17 points from 15 matches, having won just 4 matches all season. Meanwhile, the Kalinga Warriors have collected 22 points, and have a much better chance of reaching the playoffs, since they are level with sixth-placed Bengaluru.
Mathematically, both these sides can still reach the top six, however, the onus will be on the home team to find their way into the knockouts.
The Marina Machans have not won a single game in their past six matches, having last defeated NorthEast United in December. Since then, they have lost twice, and have drawn 4 matches. Brdaric’s side has only won four matches all season and faces an uphill task to reach the top six.
On the other hand, Gambau’s side has lost twice in a row, and their most recent win came earlier this month at home against East Bengal. However, that victory was their only triumph in 7 matches.
After a bright start to the campaign, the Juggernauts have struggled for consistency and they risk losing a place in the playoffs if the club from Bhubaneshwar fail to string together some results. Only five points separate the two clubs and the major difference has been the number of draws. The Kalinga Warriors have drawn just 1 match all season, while they have also won more games than the two-time ISL champs.
The Chennai-based club have a surprisingly one-sided record against the Kalinga Warriors. Gambau’s side has prevailed 7 times in 17 meetings between the two clubs. On the other hand, the Marina Machans have won only thrice, and 7 matches between them have ended all square.
Brdaric’s side has been marred by injuries, which in turn has forced the German into making multiple changes to his side. Abdenasser El Khayati’s absence has coincided with the recent dip in performances of the Marina Machans as they struggle to find the back of the net, while their defense has also been shaky.
Despite their struggles, the coach has stuck with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Samik Mitra will continue in goal, marshalled by a settled back four of Ajith Kumar, Fallou Diagne, Vafa Hakhamaneshi, and Aakash Sangwan.
Julius Duker and Jiteshwor Singh will be in the engine room, with Anirudh Thapa playing the number 10 role. Ninthoinganba Meetei and Vincy Barretto will flank the everpresent Petar Sliskovic who will lead the line.
On the other hand, Gambau has chosen to go with his tried and tested playing XI, whenever possible, sticking to his core group of players. He has also stayed loyal to the 4-3-3 formation and his side will start in the same manner.
Amrinder Singh will be between the sticks, behind Narender Gahlot, Osama Malik, Carlos Delgado, and Sahil Panwar. The trio of Raynier Fernandes, Saul Crespo, and Thoiba Singh Moirangthem will start in midfield having forged a formidable partnership while the goal-scoring responsibility will lie on the likes of Nanda Kumar, Diego Mauricio, and Jerry Mawihmingthanga.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chennaiyin (4-2-3-1): Samik Mitra; Ajith Kumar, Fallou Diagne, Vafa Hakhamaneshi, Aakash Sangwan; Julius Duker, Jiteshwor Singh; Ninthoinganba Meetei, Anirudh Thapa, Vincy Barretto; Petar Sliskovic.
Odisha (4-3-3): Amrinder Singh; Narender Gahlot, Osama Malik, Carlos Delgado, Sahil Panwar; Raynier Fernandes, Saul Crespo, Thoiba Singh Moirangthem; Nanda Kumar, Diego Mauricio, Jerry Mawihmingthanga.
Given the recent dip in form of both these clubs, a draw would be a fair outcome, however, as we have seen time and again, any team can beat any other side on any given day.
That being said, the Juggernauts will have a slight advantage since a draw will still keep them in the race for top-six, while the same will pile pressure on Brdaric’s side, so they will be expected to come out all guns blazing in front of their home support.