The Face-Off #CFCHFC

Indian Super League, Round 9

In our first match of 2021, we take on Chennaiyin FC who sit a point above us in the league table. Ahead of this game, we take a glance at the two squads, the opponents’ form, the key players to look out for and more…

Coach

Csaba Laszlo took charge of the Marina Machans in August 2020. This pragmatic approach has resulted in Chennaiyin becoming an intensely tactical side. They are on a decent run of two wins, two losses and four draws in eight games this season. While this setup averages just about 50% possession in every match, much of Chennai’s good work happens without the ball–most significantly when they won 2-1 against FC Goa this season with just 38% possession.

Squad

Chennaiyin have been an attacking side, creating chances aplenty and dominating the oppositions. But we don’t need to look far in identifying the similarities between HFC and CFC. Though exciting, physically strong and threatening from set-pieces, Chennaiyin like Hyderabad, is profligate in front of goals.

Form

Chennaiyin FC are now unbeaten in four games; – draws against ATKMB, SCEB and NorthEast United along with a thrilling 2-1 win over FC Goa. They have scored just as many as they have conceded throughout the campaign.

Attackers Lallianzuala Chhangte, Jakub Sylvestr and Rahim Ali, ably support the hardworking midfielders Memo and Anirudh Thapa. Chennaiyin’s ability to nick goals in key moments has been crucial in their recent run. However, Monday’s match is sure to prove a real test for both teams involved.

Key Players

Lallianzuala Chhangte (CFC)

Chhangte is an enterprising left-winger for Chennaiyin and likes to let shots fly with 15 so far this season. He was on target for Chennaiyin in their draw against SC East Bengal and Laszlo will hope he comes up with the goods again.

Eli Sabia (CFC)

The 32-year-old defender from Brazil is one of the more experienced squad members with 56 ISL matches under his belt. He also has a knack of frustrating the opposition, breaking their stride down with his interceptions and will constantly look to break up Hyderabad’s play in the middle of the park.

Vishal Kaith (CFC)

Chennaiyin’s shot-stopper Vishal Kaith stands tall at 6 feet 2 inches. Kaith has made 19 saves so far in the eight games played, conceding only seven. He is an instrumental figure in the opposition ranks and breaking him down will not be easy.

Aridane Santana (HFC)

No other player has numbers like Aridane, who seems to have been the perfect fit for us. Hyderabad builds forward momentum with the big centre-forward as the focal point of our attack. He is a predator in front of goals, capable of finish half-chances in the six-yard box. With his poacher’s instincts and physicality, he is usually a nightmare to defend against and will be a big threat for the hosts on Wednesday.

Asish Rai (HFC)

Our right-back Asish Rai has been in fine form this season. His willingness to go forward is well balanced with his mettle at the back. With his technical skills improving by the game, he is easily one of the most effective full-backs in the country. Much of our attacking intent begins from the right side, and his quality could be crucial for us at both ends of the field.

Joao Victor (HFC)

In the middle of the park, our No 8 is always a silent force at work. Operating as a deep-lying central midfielder, Victor sweeps up second balls for us, does a smart job of protecting our backline, and switches play from side-to-side effectively. He has featured in all eight matches for us so far. His tactical awareness will be another key element for Hyderabad on Monday.

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