Odisha vs Goa: Preview and Prediction
With the race for top-six heating up, Odisha is set to welcome Goa to the Kalinga Stadium on Monday, hoping to boost their credentials for the playoffs berth.
Josep Gombau’s men come into this fixture on the back of a gritty 2-2 draw with fellow top-six hopefuls Chennaiyin, while the Gaurs are peaking at just the right moment, having outclassed East Bengal 4-2 in their previous outing.
Carlos Pena’s side is thus sitting in fifth place on the league standings with 26 points, three ahead of the Juggernauts who are a spot below in sixth. Bengaluru and the Marina Machans are seventh and eighth respectively with 22 and 18 points.
With 4 matches still to be played, they also remain in the race to finish in the top six and thus, the upcoming weeks will be crucial for all the aforementioned sides. From that perspective, this match between the Gaurs and the Kalinga Warriors could have a significant impact on the final standings of the two sides.
Talking about the recent form of the two teams, while Pena’s men are peaking just at the right moment after a run of inconsistent results, Gombau’s side has tailed off after a promising start to the league campaign.
While Odisha was in third place at one point in the league, they are now clinging on to the sixth and final berth for playoffs. If things don’t improve now, they might risk missing out on a place in the next round.
Their most recent draw with Thomas Brdaric’s side was only the Juggernauts’ second stalemate all season, while they have won 7 matches, and have lost as many games. A negative goal difference could also come back to haunt the club from Bhubaneshwar, they must return to their A-game.
The home side last picked up all three points at home against the Red and Golds and lost all three matches on the road after that and would be desperate for a return to their home turf which could help Gombau and Co.
On the other hand, Pena’s side was marred by inconsistency throughout the campaign but with two wins in their previous two outings, the Gaurs have picked up momentum which they would like to continue. A win on Monday would see the visitors move to third place, albeit temporarily.
As far as the previous record between these two sides is concerned, they have squared off 19 times in the league, with the Kalinga Warriors claiming just 3 wins, while the Gaurs have prevailed 12 times, and 4 meetings ended in a stalemate. The reverse fixture earlier this campaign ended 3-0 in the favour of Pena’s side.
Pena’s decision to play Iker Guarrotxena as a striker has paid dividends as the Spaniard is leading the goal-scoring charts in the league with 10 goals to his name, and having found the back of the net in his previous 3 outings, he will be leading the line once again.
While the rest of the lineup has been more or less the same since the start of the campaign, Devendra Murgaonkar has started both the past matches and seems to he could be in the playing XI once again, ahead of Redeem Tlang.
Meanwhile, the Juggernauts have struggled for wins of late, and thus Gombau has been trying some new faces to bring about a change in fortunes.
He decided to go with Nanda Kumar and Isak Vanlalruatfela on the flanks, and the latter even found his name on the scoresheet thus making a case for starting once again. Similarly, Raynier Fernandes seems to have been overtaken by Isaac Vanmalsawma in the pecking order and the latter could be in line to start once again.
Predicted Starting XIs
Odisha (4-3-3): Amrinder Singh; Narender Gahlot, Osama Malik, Carlos Delgado, Sahil Panwar; Thoiba Singh Moirangthem, Saul Crespo, Isaac Vanmalsawma; Isak Vanlalruatfela, Diego Mauricio, Nanda Kumar.
Goa (4-2-3-1): Dheeraj Singh; Aibanbha Dohling, Fares Arnaout, Anwar Ali, Sanson Pereira; Ayush Dev Chhetri, Edu Bedia; Devendra Murgaonkar, Brandon Fernandes, Noah Sadaoui; Iker Guarrotxena.
While there’s little to separate the two sides in terms of their league standings, judging by their current form, the Guars will be favorites to pick up all three points given the Juggernauts’ recent struggles. However, Gombau’s men have a favorable home record, which might just help them tip the balance. All things considered, a draw could be the most likely outcome.