East Bengal vs Goa: Preview and Prediction￼
Despite the optimism before the start of the season, East Bengal looked like their version from the last season in their first match, where they suffered a 3-1 away defeat against Kerala Blasters. The Red and Golds will be looking for a swift turnaround.
For Goa, this will be the first match of the season as they will be the last team to feature in the new ISL season. The Gaurs had a pretty torrid time in the 2021-22 edition, where they finished in the 9th position. Under the stewardship of Carlos Pena, they will be eager to bring back lost glory.
East Bengal was looking decent before the start of the season. Stephen Constantine’s men had defeated heavyweights Mumbai City in the 2022 Durand Cup, and they also were unbeaten in all of their five pre-season fixtures.
However, it has only taken one match for all of their weaknesses to be left brutally exposed for the other teams to pounce on. They lost 3-1 against the Tuskers, where Adrian Luna and Ivan Kalyuzhnyi scored for Kerala Blasters while East Bengal’s solitary goal was scored by Alex Lima.
Goa recently played in the Durand Cup, but not much can be said about their first-team squad as it was their reserves who featured in that tournament. Despite being experienced, the Gaurs managed to get one victory – against Indian Air Force.
However, barring that match, the performance was not up to the mark. They drew 2-2 against Bengaluru, lost 1-0 against Jamshedpur and suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of I-League club Mohammedan.
There is absolutely nothing to separate the two teams, as head-to-head records between East Bengal and Goa are balanced. They have crossed four times, where each team have recorded one victory, while two matches ended in stalemates.
The last meeting between the Red and Golds and the Gaurs ended in a 2-1 scoreline in the former’s favour, which also was East Bengal’s only victory of the season. Naorem Mahesh scored a brace for the Kolkata-based team, while for Goa, Alberto Noguera was on the scoresheet.
There were questions about Constantine’s team selection when the East Bengal starting XI was announced, and the defeat further intensified the doubts. Quite understandably, it is expected that the British tactician will make a few tweaks to his team.
Ankit Mukherjee had a horrendous day while playing as a right-back, and in this match, Charalampos Kyriakou could be used in that position, which will then allow Constantine to fiend Jerry Lalrinzuala at left-back. Besides that, Souvik Chakrabarti and VP Suhair had pretty ordinary outings, and they could be replaced by Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Thongkhosiem Haokip respectively.
Pena could be using a tried and tested 4-4-2 formation in this match, avoiding unnecessary risks. Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem is expected to be under the sticks, with a backline of Seriton Fernandes, Marc Valiente, Anwar Ali and Saviour Gama.
Glan Martins and Edu Bedia could be entrusted with the task of winning the midfield battles, with Iker Guarrtoxena and Brandon Fernandes placed on the flanks. The onus of scoring goals is expected to lie on the shoulders of Alvaro Vazquez and Devendra Murgaonkar.
East Bengal (3-4-3): Kamaljit Singh; Charalambos Kyriakou, Ivan Gonzalez, Lalchungnunga, Jerry Lalrinzuala; Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Alex Lima, Tuhin Das; Sumeet Passi, Cleiton Silva, Thongkhosiem Haokip.
Goa (4-3-1-2): Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem; Seriton Fernandes, Marc Valiente, Anwar Ali, Saviour Gama; Iker Guarrotxena, Glan Martins, Edu Bedia, Brandon Fernandes; Alvaro Vazquez, Devendra Murgaonkar.
The defeat against Kerala Blasters made it clear that the current East Bengal team is still very far from being a flawless unit, and while we have not seen much, Goa has certainly bolstered squad strength by signing both ISL-experienced players like Vazquez and renowned talents like Guarrotxena. Hence, we have predicted the Gaurs to secure a 2-0 victory in this match.