That time of week again, boys & girls. We’re back to our normal brace of games which is cracking news after we only had the solitary game to get our teeth into next week and as we get to the business end of the season we are in danger of having games here and there that don’t mean anything for either team, but, that’s not the case this Sunday as three of the four teams have something to play for, come on!!
This Week’s Menu
Mumbai is the location of the early game as Pune come to town looking to make it four wins out five and all but seal their place in the top four. A win will put them seven clear of fifth. Mumbai need the win more than the away side, their hopes of glory in the end of season playoffs hang on by an incredibly thin thread as they currently sit five points off the pace with five games left. Pressure.
Mumbai come into this game well rested in comparison to Pune as they haven’t played since the first of February which means there’s been more than enough time for Alexandre Guimaraes to get his players up for this after their defeat at home to Jamshedpur last time out. In Mumbai’s defence, they did batter Jamshedpur all over the park, but the ‘Men Of Steel’ took their chances which makes all the difference.
Since Mumbai’s last game, Pune have played twice, losing at home to Kerala in the last seconds and then, more recently, beating a resilient NorthEast side by the single goal with a late goal of their own through Marcelinho. The Brazilian will undoubtedly be key for Pune as the majority of their play goes through him. Whichever sides’ Brazilian’s come out on top, will probably win this.
The later of the two games sees Delhi host Chennaiyin. Delhi can still mathematically make the top four should they win all their remaining games, however, even with my record being as iffy as it is when it comes to betting, I can say with 100% confidence that they are not making the top four. In complete contrast, Chennaiyin’s destiny is in their own hands and they will only be too aware of that fact. Only slight issue is that they’ve hit an inconsistent patch where they can’t string two wins together at exactly the wrong point of the season. They’ll be alright.
Believe it or not, this will be the first time we would have seen Delhi since the 27th of January so fatigue isn’t a card that Miguel Portugal play should they fall to Chennaiyin. Their last game was one which was changed by the introduction of Deependa Negi as he scored one and won the penalty for the home side in what ended up being a 2-1 victory for Kerala; Portugal has every right to feel hard done by as his side had more of the ball, more shots, but it’s goals that matter.
John Gregory’s Chennaiyin have only had a few days rest as they got taught a lesson in how to make your possession count by Bengaluru. Going into halftime, it was all level as Francisco equalised for Chennai after Haokip put Bengaluru ahead very early on. Even after Miku put Bengaluru in the lead again, it wasn’t completely over. Sereno got given a second yellow for Chennai which should have let Bengaluru wrap the game up with relative ease and in many respects it did, but not before Jeje had a penalty saved. Chhetri made it 3-1 in stoppage time to give the result a bit more gloss, so Gregory will want this troops to bounce back in the best way possible and I have a feeling Delhi may be on the wrong end of a mauling.
Mumbai’s Achille Emana has made 111 more passes than his closest teammate which shows that despite all the acclaim that the Santos twins (I know they’re not) and Balwant get, Emana is just as important.
Pune’s Marcelinho has been involved in fourteen goals this season, which is only bettered by Coro. He’s scored seven and assisted the same amount, nice and symmetrical. Marcelinho’s new nickname will be the butterfly from here on in.
Delhi’s Paulinho has been somewhat of a highlight in a dismal season thus far. Without him, they probably wouldn’t even have the seven points they have got as he’s made more passes and tackles than anyone else on his team.
Chennaiyin’s Inigo Calderon gets the spotlight for this one. Emana, Paulinho & Marcelinho all play centrally for their sides, but Calderon plays full-back so it makes it even more impressive that he’s made the most passes and tackles on his side. The ex-Brighton man proving the old guard can still cut it.
Earlier This Season
Pune City 2-1 Mumbai City
Two Emiliano Alfaro goals in the last sixteen minutes gave Pune a deserved win over Mumbai back in November. Balwant gave Mumbai the lead in the fifteenth minute with a superb goal; he cut inside from the left and fizzed one in the bottom right-hand corner, Kamaljit had no chance of saving it, especially with all the swerve the ball had on it. Take a bow, Balwant. The first of Alfaro’s goals came from the spot as Diego was crudely brought down Raju Gaikwad, he sent the Amrinder wrong way. Diego was involved with second as well as he unselfishly squared to Alfaro with only the keeper to beat; that was in the depths of stoppage time. A cracking game.
Chennaiyin FC 2-2 Delhi Dynamos
A last-gasp goal from Guyon gave Delhi the share of the points when the teams met in January. If I’m not mistaken, I think it was when Chennai were going through a stage of conceding last minute goals for fun. It was definitely when Gregory was serving a suspension for one thing or another, anyway, to the game itself. Delhi took a lead against the run of play as Chennaiyin forgot how to defend as Ngaihte was left with all the time in the world to head home from Sekar’s pinpoint cross. This was top versus bottom and bottom went one up. Game on. Jeje took over for the next part of the tale as he headed home from a Mihelic cross to make headball 1-1. Yes, that’s a thing. His second, which came just after the break, was with his feet as he turned Chowdhury and beat Iruetaguena with a great finish. Guyon had the last laugh as they came off the bench to get the equaliser, belting it in from close range. Another cracking game.
One More Thing
All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Jamshedpur versus NorthEast @ 4/5. That is today (Saturday) and I know I haven’t covered it but it’s too much of a good price to ignore. Lump on.