Kerala Blasters vs Hyderabad: Preview and Prediction
Two teams who are currently on a run of eight unbeaten matches, Kerala Blasters and Hyderabad will clash in ‘Match 55’ of the 2021-22 season of the Indian Super League at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Sunday.
Kerala Blasters have not made a playoff appearance since 2016, but they are asking all the right questions this time around. Ivan Vukomanovic’s team is currently occupying the fifth position in the league standings, having accumulated 14 points from 9 matches.
On the other hand, Hyderabad also has exceeded expectations so far this season. Manolo Marquez’s men have gathered 16 points from their 9 matches and they are placed in the second position, with only a solitary point separating them and the current league leaders, Mumbai City.
How have they done so far?
Kerala Blasters started their campaign with a 4-2 defeat against ATK Mohun Bagan, but it remains their lone defeat to date. The Tuskers drew three of their next four outings, while they bagged all three points in the clash against Odisha.
That run was followed by two back-to-back 3-0 triumphs against two formidable outfits, Mumbai City and Chennaiyin, but Vukomanovic’s team has experienced a slump in form recently as they were restricted to draws by Jamshedpur and Goa in their previous two matches.
Like the Tuskers, Hyderabad lost its campaign opener but has not had to look back ever since. Marquez’s team won three of their next four matches whilst securing a 1-1 stalemate against Jamshedpur.
Consecutive 1-1 draws against Goa and East Bengal curbed their meteoric rise but the Nizams bounced back spectacularly handing Odisha a 6-1 drubbing in their eighth outing. They are coming into this match on the back of a 2-2 stalemate against ATK Mohun Bagan.
Head to Head Record
These two teams are neck-and-neck when it comes to head-to-head records, as both Hyderabad and Kerala Blasters have won two each of the four previous meetings.
The first meeting of last season ended 2-0 in Kerala Blasters’ favor courtesy of goals from Abdul Hakku and Jordan Murray. However, Hyderabad avenged that defeat with a stunning 4-0 triumph in the return leg where Fran Sandaza got a brace for the Nizams while the other two goals were scored by Aridane Santana and Joao Victor.
Sahal Abdul Samad enjoyed his time under the sun when he scored in three consecutive matches but he failed to have any influence in the game against the Gaurs getting only 32 touches of the ball.
Though temporarily, Vukomanovic could take him off the firing line for some time and provide Prasanth K with an opportunity to raise his case. Besides that, the former Slovan Bratislava manager can also replace Marko Leskovic with Enes Sipovic after the former’s unsatisfactory performance against Goa.
The scoreline will show Hyderabad’s defense conceded two goals in their last match against the Mariners, but the Nizams were let down by their midfield. Hence, it will not be surprising if Marquez decides to field a new-look midfield contingent for this encounter.
Sahil Tavora could be handed a start in Hitesh Sharma’s place, while Javi Siverio could also be rewarded with a start after rescuing a point against the Mariners, dropping Edu Garcia to the bench. Rohit Danu might replace Aniket Jadhav on the left flank, while on the opposite wing, Seityasen Singh could take up Nikhil Poojary’s place.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Kerala Blasters (4-4-2): Prabhsukhan Gill; Harmanjot Khabra, Bijoy V, Enes Sipovic, Jessel Carneiro; Prasanth K, Jeakson Singh, Puitea, Adrian Luna; Alvaro Vazquez, Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
Hyderabad (4-2-3-1): Laxmikant Kattimani; Asish Rai, Chinglensana Singh, Juanan, Akash Mishra; Sahil Tavora, Joao Victor; Seityasen Singh, Javi Siverio, Rohit Danu; Bartholomew Ogbeche.
This fixture has never produced a draw but considering how equally balanced the two sides are on paper and their almost identical current run of form, we have predicted a 2-2 stalemate.