Odisha vs Hyderabad: Preview and Prediction
As the hunt for playoffs gets all the more intense, Odisha will host Hyderabad at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday, hoping to find a way into the top six. On the other hand, the defending champions, who are currently placed second in the league table, have already qualified for the playoffs, and look assured of a berth in the semi-finals.
Their goal will be to displace league leaders, Mumbai City and win the league winners’ shield. The Nizams have 4 matches remaining, while the Islanders have 3 games remaining to be played.
While it would take a late uncharacteristic collapse from Des Buckingham’s side – who have yet to lose a match in the league so far this season – to relinquish the top spot, anything can happen still in the last round of matches.
Manolo Marquez would thus have a clear goal in mind, to finish the campaign on a high, winning four of their remaining matches and entering the semifinals brimming with confidence. Meanwhile, Josep Gombau must be feeling the heat as his side are currently in seventh place on the standings, with just 3 matches in hand.
Talking about recent form, both these clubs have endured contrasting fortunes as the Nizams have been flying high, while the Juggernauts have really struggled of late, with just 1 win in their past 9 matches. They come into this fixture on the back of an entertaining 1-1 draw with Goa, as Diego Mauricio’s sublime free-kick cancelled an early goal from Noah Sadaoui.
The Kalinga Warriors have amassed 28 points from 17 matches, and a win would see them rise to fifth place in the table albeit temporarily. Luckily for them, their last two league games are up against the bottom-two placed sides, Jamshedpur and NorthEast United.
Gombau will be hoping to win all three remaining games and force their way into the top six because otherwise, it will be a staggering failure for them since they began the season ever so brightly.
On the other hand, Marquez’s side has achieved their objective of this league campaign as they looked primed to finish in second place, and their goal will be to defend their league title. The Nizams have looked solid at the back and will be counting on their defensive resilience to fork out a win over the Eastern Dragons.
The previous record between these two clubs favours the defending champions as they have claimed 4 wins over the Juggernauts in the past, who themselves have enjoyed just 2 victories from a total of 7 league outings, while 1 match ended all square.
The reverse fixture earlier this season resulted in a narrow 0-1 win for the Nizams with Mohammad Yasir’s solo goal winning all 3 points for his side.
As far as these two coaches are concerned, neither of them is known to tinker too much with their tried and tested playing XIs. Sahil Panwar saw a red card against the Gaurs, so he won’t be available for selection, with Denechandra Meitei likely to be his replacement.
Rest, Amrinder Singh will continue in goal for the Juggernauts, behind the likes of Shubham Sarangi, Narender Gehlot, and Carlos Delgado. Nanda Kumar could start in a deeper midfield role once again, alongside the likes of Thoiba Singh Moirangthem and Saul Crespo. Mauricio will continue to lead the line, flanked by Pedro Martin and Isak Vanlalruatfela.
Elsewhere, Joel Chianese could drop to the bench for the Nizams to accommodate Javier Siverio in their only expected change from the previous match against the Islanders.
Gurmeet Singh will continue in goal, and the resolute back four of Nikhil Poojari, Odei Onaindia, Nim Dorjee Tamang, and Akash Mishra are all expected to start, behind the dynamic duo of Borja Herrera and Hitesh Sharma.
Rohit Danu and Yasir will be expected to provide width from the flanks with Bartholomew Ogbeche likely to return to his free-roaming role behind Siverio.
Predicted Starting XIs
Odisha (4-3-3): Amrinder Singh; Shubham Sarangi, Narender Gehlot, Carlos Delgado, Denechandra Meitei; Nanda Kumar, Thoiba Singh Moirangthem, Saul Crespo; Pedro Martin, Isak Vanlalruatfela, Diego Mauricio.
Hyderabad (4-2-3-1): Gurmeet Singh Chahal; Nikhil Poojari, Odei Onaindia, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Akash Mishra; Borja Herrera, Hitesh Sharma; Rohit Danu, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Mohammad Yasir; Javier Siverio
Given the contrasting fortunes of these two sides, the Nizams will fancy their chances of winning all three points. The onus will be on the Juggernauts to upset their opponents and find a way into the playoffs before it’s too little too late.