There has been entertainment galore in the ISL recently with Delhi Dynamos producing an upset against NorthEast United FC, while FC Goa prevailed over FC Pune City. Kerala Blasters’ last game was hugely entertaining too, but Luis Garcia’s disallowed goal sparked a major controversy.
Both teams have been on a good run of form, with FC Goa having won two and drawing the other of their last three games. Kerala Blasters are on a five game unbeaten run, having won three and drawn the other two.
The two sides had a rather drab start to the tournament, but seemed to have picked up in time with Kerala Blasters now 3rd in the table with 15 points, while FC Goa lie 4th with 12 points. This makes today’s encounter even more fascinating given there is a lot at stake and both teams would want to win to edge closer to the semi-finals.
Form Guide (last 5 games):
FC Goa- WDWLL
Kerala Blasters- WWDDW
FC Goa has had a roller coaster ride in the tournament with the team managing to do well in certain games, while they have been drab and lost for ideas in others. The form guide suggests that FC Goa seem to be getting back on track, but the poor form of their current crop of strikers and the absence of a lethal goal poacher up-front has been costing them a lot. The team would rely heavily on Tolgay Ozbey to get the the goals, who just like his team, has had an up and down season.
Goa, though, have been one of the few teams who have looked good in the tournament and have got the results they needed, which now sees them at 4th with 12 points on board.
Kerala Blasters, on the other hand managed a few draws at the start and faced a similar problem with the team failing to convert chances. However, this has changed over the course of the tournament and Kerala Blasters now look like one of the firm favourites as they seem to have found their feet at just the right time.
November 26, 2014: 7 pm (IST)
Possible starting line-ups
FC Goa (4-1-4-1): Jan Seda; Debrata Das, Bruno Pinheiro, Gregory Arnolin, Narayan Das; Bikramjit Singh; Robert Pires, Andre Santos, Mandar Rao Desai, Romeo Fernandes; Tolgay Ozbey.
Though Robert Pires hasn’t been great in this tournament, but given the intensity of the game and what’s at stake, it seems certain that Zico would like to have an experienced head in Pires at the centre of the park for his team.
The rest of the team will probably be unchanged with youngsters Romeo, Mandar and Bikramjit having impressed lately and Bruno doing well in defence in the last game. The only other change might see Slepicka replace Tolgay as he adds more to the team, but given the run FC Goa has been on, it isn’t likely that the Brazilian would change too much.
Kerala Blasters (4-3-3): David James, Sandesh Jhingan, Cedric Hengbart, Gurwinder Singh, Saumik Dey; Romey , Stephen Pearson, Godwin Franco; Gusmao Iain Hume, Milagres Gonsalves
Kerala Blasters have been successful with Penn Orji easily taking the tag of the ‘super-sub’ in the tournament. This makes for an unchanged squad with Saumik Dey continuing at left back and Jhingan playing at right-back. Romey Pearson and Franco seem to be doing well controlling the game from the middle of the park, while Gusmao, Hume and Gonsalves have combined well up-front.
The only changes might be Penn Orji and CS Sabeeth starting in place of Franco and Gusmao for the all-important clash.
Gregory Arnolin vs Iain Hume
Arnolin has been FC Goa’s backbone in defence, while Hume has been Kerala’s goal machine. It would be interesting to see who comes out on top in the battle today.
The Frenchman will be given the task of marking Hume, while Hume would look to create space for himself or take defenders away. So although the battle is 1 vs 1, but the entire FC Goa defence will need to be at their best to contend with the trickery of Hume and be on their toes.
Stephen Pearson vs Andre Santos
How many times have we heard that battles are won in the midfield? This is exactly what might happen today with Pearson and Santos both trying to drive their teams forward. Pearson has been the driving force from midfield for Kerala Blasters and his runs have been hard to track and he has the ability to take shots from distance. Santos does a similar role for Goa and makes it tough for opponents’ defence.
The player who manages to control the game and the momentum for his team is likely to hand the laurels to his respective team.
Romeo Fernandes vs Saumik Dey
Romeo Fernandes has been one of the most impressive young Indian players in the FC Goa side and his goal in the previous game must have given him a lot of confidence. Romeo, who is usually known for his pace and crosses, managed to be in the right place at the right time to poach the goal.
This is not only heartening for the Goan side, but also makes it tougher for Saumik Dey to keep the youngster at bay.
FC Goa 1-2 Kerala Blasters