NorthEast United vs East Bengal: Preview and Prediction￼
NorthEast United and East Bengal will square off in the first match of matchday 3 of the 2022-23 Indian Super League season on Thursday. This contest will take place at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.
This will be an extremely important match for both sides, as they have lost their first two matches and are now in desperate need of a victory. NorthEast United started their season with a controversial 0-1 defeat over Bengaluru, but there was no controversy about their last match, as defending champions, Hyderabad handed them a 0-3 defeat.
East Bengal, on the other hand, suffered a 1-3 defeat against Kerala Blasters in their first match. The performance in the second match against Goa was much better, but it did not yield anything of importance, as the Torch Bearers ultimately lost the match 1-2.
NorthEast United came into this competition on the back of four unbeaten pre-season games, where they secured three wins and drew the other fixture. However, the start of the league has once again provided the Highlanders with a harsh reality check.
In their first match against Bengaluru, an 87th-minute Alan Costa goal ended their hopes of securing a point, while in their last match against Hyderabad, Marco Balbul’s men could hardly produce a fight as goals from Bartholomew Ogbeche, Halicharan Narzary and Borja Herrera handed them a 3-0 defeat.
East Bengal showed promise before the start of the season, as they defeated Mumbai City in the Durand Cup 2022 and also won four of their five pre-season friendlies. But in their first match of the new ISL season, an Ivan Kalyuzhnyi brace and an Adrian Luna strike handed them a 3-1 defeat against Kerala Blasters.
In their last match against Goa, Stephen Constantine’s men made a good comeback to equalize after Brandon Fernandes’ early goal had put them on the back foot. Yet, the equalizer eventually went in vain as a 94th-minute Edu Bedia freekick secured the win for the Gaurs.
The head-to-head records are inclined in favour of NorthEast United. The Highlanders have won three of the four meetings against East Bengal, while the other fixture resulted in a stalemate.
That stalemate happens to be the last meeting between these two sides – back in February of this year. Marco Sahanek scored the opening goal for NorthEast United just before half-time, but Antonio Perosevic brought East Bengal back into the game in the second half.
Given that his team has lost two matches on the trot, Balbul could make a few tweaks to his starting XI. In defense, Gaurav Bora had a horrendous time dealing with Ogbeche, and to prevent the same occurrence against Cleiton Silva, he could be replaced by Mashoor Shereef.
Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha was not very influential and could make way for Imran Khan, whereas in attack, Parthib Gogoi and Jithin MS could be replaced by Rochharzela and Gani Nigam respectively.
Like his Israeli counterpart, Constantine is also expected to make a few changes to his team, but one change, in particular, will be more of a forced move than a tactical switch. Alex Lima, who played as a forward in the last match, sustained an injury and is unlikely to be fit for this encounter.
In his absence, Sumeet Passi is expected to return to his forward position, while Charalampos Kyriakou could be slotted at the vacant right-back role. Besides that, left-winger Tuhin Das is expected to be replaced by Naorem Mahesh Singh.
NorthEast United (4-3-3): Arindam Bhattacharja; Mohamed Irshad, Michael Jakobsen, Mashoor Shereef, Gurjinder Kumar; Imran Khan, Jon Gaztanaga, Romain Philippoteaux; Rochharzela, Matt Derbyshire, Gani Nigam.
East Bengal (4-4-2): Kamaljit Singh; Charalampos Kyriakou, Lalchungnunga, Ivan Gonzalez, Jerry Lalrinzuala; VP Suhair, Souvik Chakrabarti, Jordan O’Doherty, Naorem Mahesh Singh; Sumeet Passi, Cleiton Silva.
Though East Bengal might look the better side on paper, the absence of Lima could prove to be vital, while NorthEast United will enjoy both home support and psychological advantage with their superior head-to-head record. Hence, we have predicted the Highlanders to win this match.