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ISL: Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters - What we can expect - Preview and Prediction

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 21 Oct 2014, 13:50 IST
Preview
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Chennaiyin FC take on Kerela Blasters in their first home match of the ISL

Chennai will witness its most high profile football match in years, as the new baby in town, Chennaiyin FC entertain Kerala Blasters at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium tomorrow. Chennaiyin FC will be in good spirits ahead of their second game, after a solid display saw them win their away game in Goa 2-1. The same, however, cannot be said about the Blasters, who were left wondering how they didn’t get at least a point out of their opening game in Guwahati. 

Chennai will look to keep up the pressure on leaders Atletico de Kolkata while Kerala will look to gain their first points in the ISL. 

Venue and Kickoff

The roads leading to the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium are all waterlogged after a weekend of torrential rain in Chennai. Both teams have had limited practice, and had to cancel their training sessions on the day prior to the match. 

David James said in the pre-match press conference that this was not ideal preparation but it was the same for both sides and he expects to see a good game tomorrow. 

The Nehru Stadium in Chennai has a capacity of around 40,000 and a party atmosphere can be expected as Chennai returns to the Indian footballing map. 

Kickoff: October 21st 2014, 7pm IST


Possible Starting XIs

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Chennaiyin FC (3-2-2-1-2): Gennaro Bracigliano, Abhishek Das, Gouramangi Singh, Mikael Silvestre, Bernard Mendy, Dhanachandra Singh, Bojan Djordjic, Denson Devadas, Elano, Bruno Pelissari, Balwant Singh.

Marco Materazzi is likely to go in with an unchanged starting eleven. Harmanjot Khabra is fit again following an injury which forced him to miss Chennai’s opener, but Chennai’s midfield of Bojan Djordjic, Denson Devadas and Elano functioned reasonably well in that opening game, and there is no reason for Materazzi to change that combination. 

In the pre-match conference, Materazzi praised the enthusiasm and youthful energy of Abhishek Das, and more of the same can be expected from the young right back. 

In response to a question on Chennai’s hard tackling, especially on Robert Pires in the first game, Djordjic said that if the ball is there to be won, every player on the Chennai side will try and win the ball, and not care for reputation. 

Chennai are a side that seem to be gelling nicely, and would be wishing for another scalp in the Kerala Blasters tomorrow. 

Kerala Blasters (4-1-2-1-2): David James, Cedric Hengbart, Gurwinder Singh, Avinabo Bag, Jamie McAllister, Nirmal Chhetri, Stephen Pearson, Mehtab Hossain, Penn Orji, CS Sabeeth, Michael Chopra

David James has said that he has a full squad of 29 players to choose from, and that each of his players are in good shape and in the fray for selection. Kerala played a diamond in midfield in their first game, and that is unlikely to change, given that they put up a reasonably good performance, and there is no reason why James has to tinker with that. One possible change in the eleven could be the inclusion of Michael Chopra ahead of Iain Hume. 

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James also praised young Indian striker CS Sabeeth, and it is likely that Sabeeth will get another opportunity. 

Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters – Likely Starting XIs

Key Battles

Bojan Djordjic vs Penn Orji

The captains of their respective teams, Djordjic and Orji have a similar role of pulling the strings in midfield. While Djordjic will lie deep and look to spray the passes all over the field, Orji is someone who likes getting forward and having more of an attacking impact. How these two perform could shape the way the game turns out, as it is likely to be the midfield battle that wins either side the game. 

Elano vs Nirmal Chhetri

Elano was not at his dynamic best in the first game, but still played a crucial role in both of Chennai’s goals – the second one being a sumptuous free kick from the edge of the area. On his day, Elano has pinpoint precision with his passing, and can unlock any defense with his magical through balls. Nirmal Chhetri will be the man designated to keep a leash on Elano, and stop him from dictating the play. 


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Prediction

Close game, but Chennai to nick it by the odd goal in 3. 

Chennaiyin FC 2-1 Kerala Blasters

Published 21 Oct 2014, 13:12 IST
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