ISL 2017: Pune City vs NorthEast United Match Preview

NorthEast United FC

Last time out…

Pune went to Goa and came away with an astounding 2-0 victory after two goals in the last twenty minutes from Emiliano Alfaro and Jonatan Lucca in what was a game where they really made their possession count because they had a lot less of the ball, yet, when they had it, they used it to the best of their ability. The second half was the best example of this as they only had 39% of the ball and only completed a ridiculous 94 passes, yet they still had six shots on target which works out to one every fifteen passes or thereabouts. The perfect smash and grab.

NorthEast lost their third game on the bounce as a Balwant Singh inspired Mumbai City took all three points which left NorthEast second bottom of the ISL and looking miles off the pace. For a team that just missed out on the playoffs last time out, they are in need of a small miracle to turn around their fortunes and that will only begin if they’re more efficient in front of goal because that’s what they’re missing at the moment.

Press conferences…

As Popovic is starting a touchline ban, he handed his press conference duties to his assistant Vladica Grujic who started by commenting on their last two home games:

“Yes, last two games at home we lost. If it is a little bit luckier, we can win too. The team continues the same in training every day.”

In what was a rather short press conference, he finished by touching on that he doesn’t believe NorthEast’s league position is testament to their ability:

“I think NorthEast [United] have four points but normally when you go to the games, this team play good football. We have shown how we play offensive football and stay compact and tomorrow [on Friday], it is time to win again,”

Joao de Deus’ press conference hasn’t been done so it seems at the time of the writing, but there are some words from their stand-in skipper, Jose Goncalves, who wants their fans to know they’re not happy with where they are:

“None of us want to be in such a spot. We are all working hard”

He finished by thanking the fans for supporting them:

“Thank you to all our passionate fans who have been with us through this phase”

The game itself…

Pune will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing home defeats against Chennaiyin and Bengaluru in which they only scored one goal and conceded four. The turning point against Bengaluru was the red card which saw them reduced to ten men which let Bengaluru back in and eventually saw them score three second-half goals and win 3-1. They’ll be looking to recreate the football which gave them three points at home to Mumbai in which they dominated the proceedings from start to finish and deservedly came away with a 2-0 win.

NorthEast can’t afford to be so wasteful in front of goal if they want to some damage against Pune; they will be looking to their trip to Delhi for inspiration as its the only game that they’ve come away with three points this season. That game saw them only have 35% of the ball and you feel that the game against Pune won’t be much different. Their biggest problem is a lack of goals so far as the only two goals they’ve scored have come in that aforementioned game against Delhi.

Ones to watch…

Emiliano Alfaro – Alfaro, who got awarded the fans’ goal of the week for his strike against Goa last time out, is the spearhead of the Pune attack and NorthEast will be under no illusion that he is the one that they need to stop. He has scored five in seven so far and he will be looking to add to his tally as he tries to hunt down Coro who is still at the top of the goalscorers chart.

Marcinho – The creative Brazilian for NorthEast United will be integral to their chances against Pune. So far this season in the six games he has played, he has made an average of over 50 passes a game, has had just shy of 60 touches a game and a total of 13 shots so far this campaign. He is also responsible for 50% of the goals NorthEast have scored and the way you’ve got to look at it is, if Pune stop Marcinho, then NorthEast aren’t going to be up to much at all.

One more thing…

All things considered, if you listened to my ‘put your house on’ bet, you’d now have two houses, so we may as well put one of those houses on Pune to win @ 4/5.

About the Author

Jake Flock
Football and writing are my two biggest passions, so seems right to combine the pair, don't you think?