Delhi Dynamos and Chennai City FC played out an uninspiring draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi to share a point each.
Chennai, for the second successive game in a row, decided to start without the Indian forward Jeje Lalpekhlua, but to no successive result. They did lack the quality in the final third to put the ball in the back of the net much like what Delhi is experiencing now. Chennai dominated the home side in the midfield play and created far more opportunities to score. But Carlos Salom could not capitalize much on the day. The same was the story at the other end of the pitch, where Lallianzuala Chhangte did put in some terrific runs down the lane and crossed some inch-perfect passes only for Andrija Kaludjerovic to waste them.
Both the teams had equal possession in the game while the passing accuracy was slightly in favour of the Chennaiyin FC at a decent 71% compared to Delhi’s 70%. But the equality in possession and passes did not amount much to the shots in the final third for Delhi. While Delhi had only 2 shots on target in the game, Chennai had 7. Even in the case of the number of crosses into the penalty box, Chennai had 20 while Delhi was only able to make 13 crosses on the day. With the stats clearly speaking about the lack of a cutting edge striker for Chennaiyin FC, John Gregory will be a worried man right now.
Here are the primary hits and flops from the game.
#5 Hit Raphael Augusto
The kingpin of the Chennaiyin FC midfield was playing alongside Anirudh Thapa today while the Spaniard Orlandi took the forward Midfield slot. Raphael Augusto was at his usual best teasing opponents with his crafty skills on the pitch forcing opponents to make fouls and win free kicks for his team.
He came up against the ex-Chennaiyin FC player, Rene Mihelic, on many occasions and came out with flying colours. The fact that Rene Mihelic could not do much justifies why Raphael was opted by John Gregory last year ahead of Mihelic as the go-to guy for Chennaiyin FC.
Raphael Augusto ended up winning the Limitless player award and it is quite a justified one at that.
#4 Flop: Andrija Kaluderovic
Andrija Kaludjerovic had scored against Kerala Blasters in Kochi to force a draw for Delhi. Remember that, even in the game against Kerala, he was quite off-colour and could not make any kind of impact with Jhingan following him closely on his heels.
Kaludjerovic received few gem crosses from the flanks with Chhangte putting in an effort to provide. But the Serbian footballer could not utilize them. The best chance of the game was when he received a free header In the penalty box on a cross from Chhangte and he ended up heading it straight to the goalkeeper Karanjit Singh. Remember that this was one of the 2 shots on target Delhi had. The Delhi forwards did not even test the Chennai goalkeeper on other occasions.
Delhi, for sure, need to work on tweaking the lineup to get quality players in the penalty box. Andrija Kaluderovic needs to fire in the coming games to take Delhi forward as Delhi do not have heavy options on the bench to replace him.
#3 Hit: Francisco Dorronsoro
The hero of the match was Francisco Dorronsoro. There were numerous occasions when he came to the rescue of Delhi. If Josef Gombau had to thank anyone for the one point that they earned, it has to be to this 33 year old Spaniard.
Delhi have been the only team in this ISL to utilize the services of a foreign custodian. Other teams choose to use the foreign quality on the field while opting for Indian goalkeepers. This strategy of Delhi to have an experienced custodian as their final defence did pay dividends as Francisco Dorronsoro was top notch with his positioning and saves.
If Delhi can sort out their issue of scoring goals, they can be a threat to the opposition with their decent defensive setup and a quality custodian.
Francisco Dorronsoro now has 14 saves from 4 games and looks to be a hot contender to win the best goalkeeper of the ISL 2018-19 awards.
#2 Flop: Carlos Salom
Carlos Salom was given the chance to start in the eleven ahead of the Indian forward Jeje Lalpekhlua but did not have the kind of impact John Gregory had hoped for. He came up short on multiple occasions even though Chennai enjoyed better dominance in the midfield.
Chennai had a clear game plan of allowing the Delhi players to have possession in the Chennai half and then attack the Delhi post with a swift pace on counter attacks. The pace of Thoi Singh and Fernandes was useful for them. But the 31 year old Palestinian striker could not provide the much-needed quality in the final third.
Chennai even had to drop out Mailson Alves, as playing Salom in place of Jeje takes up a foreigner slot. Considering all that, there were far lesser contributions from Carlos Salom to justify his place in the starting eleven.
#1 Flop: Rene Mihelic
Another flop show of the day was the much highly touted midfielder Rene Mihelic. Known for his precise set pieces and innovative game, Mihelic was expected to take on Raphael Augusto with much more fight. But that was not the case. Rene Mihelic was unusually quiet in the midfield and just did not find the cutting edge passes that he usually does.
The strategic game of John Gregory to neutralize Mihelic with playing him against Raphael Augusto worked and Josef Gombau had to substitute Mihelic to bring in Vinit Rai. One can argue that John Gregory knew the style of play of Mihelic and was able to effectively counter him on the day. But a skilled professional footballer like Rene Mihelic should be able to find a way to break free from the chains of the opposition and come out testing the opponents. But that was not the case and Rene Mihelic had a flop game against Chennaiyin FC.