Kerala Blasters FC won their first match of the season 2-0 against Hyderabad FC at GMC Stadium Bambolim.
The game started with both teams setting up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The game plan was to play a high-intensity game where both the defense and midfielders of Hyderabad will be pressed immediately whenever they received the ball. Murray was leading the line with Sahal on the left, Rahul on the right, and Facundo Pereyra playing as a no. 10. One thing that should be applauded is the work rate of Murray and Rahul as both players ran their socks off.
Blasters lined up with an all-Indian backline for the first time, also a first by a team in this ISL, and kept the clean sheet. Kibu was forced to hand out starts to Hakku and Sandeep due to injuries to both Costa and Kone, and both took advantage of the opportunity. The first goal came from Hakku’s aerial ability and a brilliantly worked corner. Both full-backs did not overlap much as to give our Indian backline more organization. And whenever Nishu wandered up, Jeakson and Rahul covered the flank well.
Jeakson and Vicente started the game as the two defensive midfielders and they were also involved in pressed well to win the ball back. They were also able to beat the Hyderabad press by either finding a good pass or dribbling out their way out of it. Jeakson was very effective in this. Vicente played a little higher up the pitch, like a box-to-box midfielder.
Facundo Pereyra worked hard throughout the game. Even helping the defense in the second half a few times. Both Rahul and Sahal kept swapping their flanks which made it difficult for the Hyderabadi defense to mark them, as both offer a different threat to the opposition. Kibu changed the system twice in the final minutes to provide more defensive stability. Rohit came on for Sahal and made an impact by providing a great cross which led to the second goal scored by Jordan Murray. Albino was equally good in goal, making some good saves.
All things said and done, Blasters won this game because they wanted this win more. They were willing to outrun, out the press, and outwork Hyderabad. The whole team wanted this win and it showed on the pitch. For the most part of the game, every second ball was won by Blasters. It is the work rate that matters, and it is the work rate that won us the game. Hoping to see more of the same!