NorthEast United vs Odisha: Preview and Prediction
NorthEast United’s progression curve has taken a monumental dip since their semi-final appearance last season, as they are barely avoiding the last place this time around. With 9 points from 11 matches, the Highlanders are laboring at the tenth position in the league standings.
On the other hand, Odisha has not been much better either. The Kalinga Warriors might not be placed at the bottom like last season, but having accumulated 13 points from 10 matches, they have only managed an eighth-placed stay.
NorthEast United is without a win in four matches and has only picked up two points from their three previous outings, one of which came in their last game against Goa where they restricted the fellow bottom-dwellers to a 1-1 stalemate.
The two matches before that saw Khalid Jamil’s men losing out to Jamshedpur by a 3-2 margin after they miraculously managed to hold reigning champions Mumbai City to a 3-3 draw, courtesy of a Deshorn Brown hat-trick.
Odisha is coming into this match on the back of a disappointing 2-0 defeat against league leaders Kerala Blasters, which led to the sacking of former manager Kiko Ramirez.
Before losing out to the Tuskers, the Kalinga Warriors registered a surprising 4-2 triumph against Mumbai City. It was an enormously important win from Odisha’s perspective since they took on the Islanders just six days after being handed a 6-1 humiliation by Hyderabad.
Head to Head Record
There is hardly anything to separate these two teams based on head-to-head records as both Odisha and NorthEast United have emerged victorious in two of the five occasions where they have crossed paths, with one match producing a draw.
The first meeting of this season ended 1-0 in the Kalinga Warriors’ favor. It was a closely-contested affair that seemed all set to be heading to a goalless stalemate but a last gasp Jonathas winner secured all three points for Odisha.
The Highlanders have made a few new overseas acquisitions in Marcelinho and two other players according to some reports but neither is likely to feature in this match owing to quarantine guidelines. Another overseas star in Brown is also nursing an injury that he sustained in the last game against Goa but the Jamaican marksman could still make it to the starting XI.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Roccharzela who was also injured against the Gaurs as his injury looked more severe. He is expected to be replaced by Laldanmawia Ralte while Jamil could deploy Joe Zoherliana in the right-back position in Provat Lakra’s place.
Interim head coach Kino Garcia is likely to make quite a few tweaks to Odisha’s starting XI. The former Valencia academy head coach could opt for a 4-4-2 formation with Javi Hernandez pairing with Jonathas upfront.
Both full-backs who featured in the last game against Kerala Blasters in Hendry Antonay and Lalruatthara are unlikely to feature in this match but for different reasons. The former is suspended after picking up four yellow cards and could be replaced by Sebastian Thangmuansang while the latter could make way for Lalhrezuala Sailung after a sub-par display against the Tuskers.
Thoiba Singh might be reinstated in the middle of the park in Liridon Krasniqi’s place, which would allow Garcia to bring Mongil back to central defense dropping Sahil Panwar to the bench.
Predicted Starting Lineups
NorthEast United (4-3-3): Mirshad Michu; Joe Zoherliana, Patrick Flottmann, Mashoor Shereef, Gurjinder Kumar; Imran Khan, Sehnaj Singh, Hernan Santana; VP Suhair, Deshorn Brown, Laldanmawia Ralte.
Odisha (4-4-2): Arshdeep Singh; Sebastian Thangmuansang, Hector Rodas, Victor Mongil, Lalhrezuala Sailung; Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Thoiba Singh, Isaac Vanmalsawma, Nandhakumar Sekar; Javi Hernandez, Jonathas.
NorthEast United’s squad is plagued with injuries, while the Odisha players will be eager to impress their new gaffer, given that their starting XI places are on the line. Hence, we have predicted a 2-1 Kalinga Warriors triumph.