Chennaiyin FC vs FC Goa (3-1): Three reasons why the Marina Machans lost
Chennaiyin FC succumbed to a morale-crushing 3-1 defeat to last year’s semi-final opponents Goa in Chennai on Thursday night. Their second consecutive loss, after their equally humiliating loss at Bengaluru in their opening game, leaves the defending Indian Super League winners just one place above the foot of the league standings.
Goa’s foreign recruits stole the show in front of a 15,000-strong Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium audience, with Edu Bedia, Ferran Corominas, and Mourtada Fall all finding the net for the visitors. Eli Sabia pulled one back for the home side, but the ship had already sailed on their chances of pulling off a heroic comeback in their first home game of the 2018-19 season.
3. Losing midfield battles
“It’s normal for people to discuss people who’re not here,” said the Chennai manager when he was asked if his defense needs addressing after two straight losses. However, Chennai surely did miss Dhanapal Ganesh and Bikramjit Singh. The Indian international duo was far from the creative central midfielders most coaches are after these days, but they ensured they won enough second balls, aerial duels and tackles to nullify the opposition’s midfield.
Their unavailability has definitely weakened Chennai’s midfield drastically. Youngsters Germanpreet Singh and Anirudh Thapa, indeed, were more creative than last year’s double pivot, but their enthusiasm cost their team big-time, as they gave away possession fairly often.
Goa midfield, consisting of Edu Bedia and Ahmed Jahouh, proved superior to the Chennai midfielders in terms of physicality and technical ability. The former, an ex-Morocco international central midfielder, in particular, bossed the midfield, depossessing Chennai midfielders regularly, distributing the ball superbly and basically, orchestrating Goa's midfield.
The Chennai manager must go back to drawing board to spot his best midfielders and identify his best midfield set-up.
2. Lack of final balls
There were flashes of individual brilliance all over the pitch. Youngsters Jerry Lalrinzuala and Anirudh Thapa combined often, causing the home fans to go haywire. Raphael Augusto, who clearly wasn’t 100% fit, ran rings around the Goa defenders at times. Gregory Nelson, meanwhile, produced moments that left both the home support and Goa defenders amazed.
However, an evident lack of final ball or Chennai’s inability to produce decent final balls meant their attackers hardly ever tested Goa’s 18-year-old goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz. Their attackers are clearly capable of producing killer final balls, but the coach admittedly failed to set-up his personnel in a way that brings the best out of them.
They looked much more threatening after Argentina-born Palestine international Carlos Salom had replaced Jeje Lalpekhlua. Perhaps, his superior link-up play was what the Chennai needed to be a force in the attacking third.