Match: Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters
Date: 21st December, 2021
Venue: Tilak Maidan
Time: 7:30 PM
High flying Chennaiyin FC look to continue winning ways against resurgent Kerala Blasters
Chennaiyin FC have been one of the most consistent outfits in this edition’s Indian Super League. Head coach Bozidar Bandovic has adapted to Indian football brilliantly and will hope that his team continue to flourish in their latest challenge against Kerala Blasters.
The main mantra of the Marina Machans have been to maintain a strong defensive shape and they have done that with aplomb, only conceding four goals in six matches. Their defence, led by Serbian centre back Slavko Damajnovic has been the best in this edition’s ISL.
While defence was the area of strength for the Marina Machans, their attack never looked that impressive. Hence Bandovic tried out a fluid attacking formation with Mirlan Murzaev and Lallianzula Chhangte upfront. He gave them full freedom to roam around the final third putting pressure on the opposition defenders and it worked like a charm. While his conventional strikers have struggled to score goals, Murzaev and Chhangte playing in a brand new role simply changed the narrative.
On the other hand, Kerala Blasters after a tough start to the ISL campaign have resurrected themselves with a 3-0 thumping of Mumbai City FC in their previous outing. Head coach Ivan Vukomanovic has found that glue that has kept the team together during tougher times. The Blasters are definitely looking like a team coming to life in the second half of the league.
With the talent available at the Serbian tactician disposal, a lot can happen this year for the Yellow Army. However for now Alvaro Vazquez returning to form and Sahal Abdul Samad scoring bangers are the points that they need to hear. Vazquez promised a lot when he signed on the dotted lines and the Spaniard is finally proving his worth. He has now scored thrice in as many games and has been a buoyant force for the Tuskers in their recent resurgence.
Overall thumping the league leaders 3-0 in the previous fixture must boost their morale immensely. It increases self-belief and that can be a game-changer for this Kerala Blasters unit. Vukomanovic always believed in a process and he will be glad that it is very well in motion.
Chennaiyin FC: WDDLW
Kerala Blasters FC:DDWDW
Chennaiyin FC fortunately do not have any fresh injury concerns. Apart from Rafael Crivellaro, Bandovic has everyone available for this fixture against the Blasters. However, the Montenegrin will look to field a similar looking formation from the last match. The three-man backline allowed the likes of Reagan Singh and Jerry Lalrinzuala, both better offensive, more freedom to provide width as wingbacks. Meanwhile, the addition of Germanpreet Singh provided more solidity in the middle. Lastly, Murzaev and Chhangte complimented each other very nicely in the attack.
On the other hand, Vukomanovic has some absentees for this match. First choice goalkeeper Albino Gomes is out injured and similarly, the likes of Rahul KP and Enes Sipovic will also miss out on this fixture due to injury.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz who picked up a knock in the last game was declared fit to start by Vukomanovic. The Serb will only again look to pair Diaz upfront with Vazquez whereas young defender Ruivah Hormipan slotted in brilliantly for Sipovic at the heart of the defence along with Marco Leskovic. They definitely have the team to cause problems for the Chennaiyin FC defence. All in all, it will be interesting to see how Vukomanovic’s men perform against a well-organised outfit like Chennaiyin FC.
Chennaiyin FC: Vishal Kaith (GK), Reagan Singh, Ariel Borysiuk, Narayan Das, Slavko Damjanovic, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Anirudh Thapa, Vladimir Koman, Germanpreet Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Mirlan Murzaev.
Kerala Blasters Starting Lineup: Prabhshukhab Singh Gill (GK), Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Ruivah Hormipan, Marco Leskovic, Jessel Carneiro, Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Lalthathanga Khawlhring Adrian Luna, Alvaro Vazquez and Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
Alvaro Vazquez, Striker, Kerala Blasters
The high profile Spanish striker was considered as one of the best players to come to Indian shores this summer. While Vazquez had a slow start to the cmapaign, he is currently setting the league on fire with his exceptional goals. The 31-year former Swansea City man has now scored thrice in as many matches and has led the resurgence for the Blasters this season. He will look to continue that for Ivan Vukomanovic’s men.
Apart from scoring goals Vazquez has shown tremendous work ethic and abiltity to win the ball back right from the face of the defence. All in all, he has been the ideal man to lead the lines for the Yellow Army. His current chemsitry with Jorge Diaz is commendable as the duo are looking to combine more for many goals this season.
Lallianzuala Chhangte, Winger, Chennaiyin FC
One of the key players for Chennaiyin FC this season especially in the attacking department. Chhangte is one of the best youngsters around in Indian football and with every passing year he has justified that point really well. He has been involved in a lot of goals over the last couple of seasons and has become a vital cog in Bandovic’s system.
In his new role as a forward Chahngte excelled and looked more lethal when he was told to run at the Odisha FC defenders. He even came up with the assist for the Murzaev stunner form long range. His understanding with Murzaev looks very good and Bandovic will hope that they can cause some problems for the oposition.
Captaincy and Vice Captaincy Picks
Both teams are in winning form and will be looking to continue that. Hence Kerala Blasters’ main man Alvaro Vazquez is our captaincy pick, especially for his fiery form. The Spaniard has scored thrice in as many games in the ISL. The vice-captain pick in form of Lallianzuala Chhangte looks like a reasonable pick for that role. The new formation will allow him more space to work with and it can very well turn out to be the masterstroke from Bandovic.