Last time out…
It was the tale of two penalties in John Gregory’s side last game when the faced Jamshedpur away from home as they went into the game knowing they would go four points clear of the home side with a victory. Despite having less possession throughout the game, the first half did belong to Jamshedpur as they had more shots on goal, more corners, more everything really, apart from the only important stat, goals. With only four minutes to the interval Chennaiyin were awarded a penalty which was duly dispatched by the in-form Jeje to put the away side one to the good, however, in the third minute of first half stoppage time, Jamshedpur were given the luxury of a penalty as well, but, Belfort wasn’t able to convert it meaning that at half time, Chennaiyin were in the ascendancy. Gregory’s Chennaiyin saw out the second half brilliantly as they restricted the home team to only one shot on target and dominated in general, so Gregory came out victorious in the clash of the English managers.
Guimaraes’ Mumbai did a number on Delhi Dynamos as everyone expected, what wasn’t expected was how they did it. Let me explain, Mumbai won by four goals to nil without having the majority of possession, without having the most shots, without making the most passes etc, I could go on and on. Delhi, as usual, were masters of their own downfall as twelve minutes into the game, they gave away a penalty which Emana failed to hit the target with as the spotkick cannoned back off the post, but there was skipper, Goian to put away the rebound. Emana made amends for his earlier penalty miss when he teed up Everton Santos to make it two nil before half time, before the whistle was blown for the break, it all got a bit ugly as both teams were reduced to ten men after Sehnaj took down Delhi’s Matias which then resulted in World War Three and both teams starting the second half with ten men apiece. Second half goals from Thiago Santos and the in-form Balwant Singh put the game to bed for Mumbai, who on another day could have lost this, such is the nature of the ISL.
Sabir Pasha took the Chennaiyin press conference after John Gregory was handed a three match ban after his outburst in the Jamshedpur game, just in time for new year, well played John. His deputy started by saying they won’t under esitmate Delhi:
“We know how Delhi Dynamos are. They might be bottom of the table (but it) does not matter. They are a good side and we can’t be complacent against any side in the league. It is going to be a tough game.”
He also remarked that Chennaiyin will not be hampered by Gregory’s absence:
“Gregory’s absence is clearly disappointing. But the team is focused on the three points (on offer against Delhi Dynamos).”
Pasha also ensured fans that they would be able to cope without their skipper, who is also suspended:
“I think tomorrow will be a test for us a player like Sereno will be absent. And we expect Delhi to go all out at us. We are planned for the eventuality.”
He concluded by saying:
“We have been able to rest all our key players. Our squad is completely fit.”
Ex-Real Madrid player Miguel Portugal is in Delhi’s dugout and he is rather critical about his own team:
“We have had two problems so far – in defence and in attack. We have had a lot of opportunities to score but we have not done so. We play well in midfield but the defence has a problem,”
Rightly so, they have been poor. However, telling your opponent your weakness can’t be a good idea…
“The problem in defence is our set piece defending. Chennaiyin FC will try to exploit that weakness.”
What about your Christmas Miguel, how was that?
“It is a bad Christmas for me. It is not nice when you lose six matches on a trot. But I think the team played well during these games.”
Ah, ok. He finished by saying that his team need to win:
“This game is a must-win for us after the losses. When you win five or six times, it is possible that you might win the next game. It is also possible that you might win the next game after losing five or six games.”
The game itself…
You can’t really look past a home win in this game, but, the ISL loves throwing a curveball when you think you have a result sussed. Apart from their opening day defeat to Goa, Chennaiyin have remained unbeaten at home whilst picking up so impressive results on the road. Their game against NorthEast United is without doubt the most comparable game from their season so far and that ended in a 3-0 victory for Gregory’s side with two of three goals coming in the opening half an hour and you have to fear the worst for Delhi, should the same happen to them.
Delhi will take inspiration from their 3-1 win against Chennaiyin last season when Marcelinho bagged two and none other than Florent Malouda came off the bench. The only time they’ve picked up points this season was away at Pune, who funnily enough sit level on points with Chennaiyin, when they scored three goals in a twenty minute second half spell that left Pune rocking and they couldn’t recover. They’re going to need something similar tomorrow if they are to get anything from the game, although, they have been creating chances, so maybe there is a chance.
Ones to watch…
Jeje – The striker made it four for the season last time out after converting his penalty against Jamshedpur and he’ll be looking to extend his tally against a leaky Delhi Dynamos. He failed to score in their last home game against Kerala, prior to that, he got two against ATK, including one, crucially in the 91st minute to give them those all important three points. Delhi’s defence will have to be on point and considering they’ve conceded six more goals than anyone else in the league, it’s fair to say, they’re going to have their work cut out.
Paulinho Diaz – Whilst Delhi’s performances have not been anywhere near the levels they should have been, one player who does tend to be rather consistent is Paulinho as he breaks the opposition’s play up and distributes the ball to those who are deemed more creative around him. If he can dominate the midfield then Delhi may well have a chance, but without putting too much pressure on the Brazilian, its all down to him.
One more thing…
All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Chennaiyin HT/FT @ 13/8.