Kerala Blasters FC
Indira Gandhi Stadium, Guwahati
15th November, 2015, 7PM IST
The Indian Super League (ISL) table remains as close as ever, with just five points separating the first and the second-last placed teams.
However, things seem to be slowly slipping away for the Kerala Blasters FC, who would be travelling to Guwahati, desperately looking for a win against North East United FC (NEUFC).
On the other hand, although NEUFC are currently outside the top four, they know that a win against the struggling Kerala Blasters FC would hand them the top-spot in the ISL — for now at least.
Team News and Tactical Brief
North East United FC
The Highlanders have a great chance of going to the top of the ISL table, facing bottom-team Kerala Blasters FC at home, and would be looking to capitalise this opportunity by fielding as good a side as possible.
Two of the most important players in at manager Cesar Fariasa disposal are Silas and Bikey, as they have provided a protective sheen to their goal, in an otherwise attack-minded setup. While Silas has been providing cover for the defenders from a holding midfield position, Bikey has been a rock at the heart of the NEUFC defence, playing every game since being included in the squad.
Meanwhile, Silas has been in good form of late, and has even scored a crucial goal against Chennaiyin FC in their last match.
Silas has formed a good partnership in the middle of the park with both Bruno Arias and Siam Hanghal, and would be looking to pressurise the opponents and get the ball back.
Diomansy Kamara has been instrumental for NEUFC in the last few games, either as an out-and-out forward, or playing behind the central striker.
However, since they are playing at home against the out-of-form bottom side, there is a chance that Farias may look to give some rest to Marquee player Simao Sabrosa, who has played three games on the trot. That might not be too big a concern though, as they do have the pacey Nico Velez at their disposal.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Rehenesh; Raju, Lopez, Bikey, Khongjee; Sanju, Silas, Hanghal, Velez; Kamara; Dadzie.
Kerala Blasters FC
Coach Terry Phelana s men need to get more wins under their belt to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the semi finals.
However, in what comes as a huge blow for the Kerala Blasters FC, their influential forward Sanchez Watt has injured himself in their last match against Atletico de Kolkata, and will most likely be missing from action on Sunday.
Phelan has shown a penchant for the unorthodox by preferring to play the 4-3-1-2 or the diamond formation. Although the diamond formation does allow them to put three quality forwards up against the opposition defenders, it does leave them with a lack of width, which has come back to haunt them.
The diamond formation puts a lot of pressure on fullbacks Saumik De and Rahul Bheke, both of whom need to be bombing up and down the flanks for the entirety of the 90 minutes.
One piece of good news for Phelan though would be the good form of Antonio German, who is most likely to take up the No. 10 position behind the two strikers, replacing the injured Watt.
German was on fire in their last match against Atletico de Kolkata, after he came on to replace the injured Watt, and went on to score both of Kerala Blasters FCa s goals in the game.
Although they lost that match, they can take heart from the fact that their players had put out a good performance, and German seems to be in top form at the moment.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Bywater; Saumik, Ramage, Jhingan, Bheke; Josu, Hossain, Coimbra; German; Rafi, Dagnall.
North East United FC 2-2 Kerala Blasters FC
Although they have not been winning too often, Kerala Blasters FC have been playing some good football, and the recent discovery of Germana s form could be something that pushes Phelana s side forward against NEUFC.
Blast from the past
Kerala Blasters FC 3-1 North East United FC
Riding high on their runners-up finish at last yeara s ISL, the Kerala Blasters FC went on to demolish NEUFC 3-1 in their first match of the season. However, the tables have turned completely since then, as NEUFC have found new form while Kerala Blasters FC have completely lost it, and are desperate for a win from anywhere.
Image Courtesy: ISL Media