The spoils were shared between Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC as the game ended 0-0 at GMC Stadium Bambolim.
Chennaiyin came into this game with full confidence after their convincing victory over Jameshedpur FC. Blasters on the other hand is coming from a defeat in the opening game against ATKMB and a draw against North East United FC. In both games KBFC played brilliantly in the first half but could not carry it through to the second half.
When the game began it was all Chennaiyin at the start partly due to the effectiveness of Chennaiyin’s system against Blasters. Chennaiyin setup in a 4-4-2 counter attacking setup with Isma playing the right striker and Jakub playing the left. Blasters setup in a 4-2-3-1 possession-based setup with Rohit playing as a CDM and Cido given a free role as to man mark Crivellaro out of the game. However, after the initial hiccups, thanks to some brilliant defending by Kone and some brilliant goalkeeping by Albino, Blasters gained control of the game.
After the drinks break, the instruction to both fullbacks from Kibu was clear, bomb forward, create 2 vs 1 on the wings. However, on our left-hand side Thapa was helping out his full back. Blasters found purchase in the right-hand side where Chhangte is reluctant to track back and gave both Nishu and Nongdamba space. There were few set pieces, but Blasters failed to convert their chances. Blasters clearly dominated the game from the drinks break until half time.
The game plan was clear though. Play out from the back, create width using full backs and then supply the four-man forward line in attack with chances. Rohit Kumar who had his second brilliant outing as a CDM in this ISL covered Nishu and Meitei whenever they went up. Cido was assigned to man mark Crivellaro out of the game. Kibu identified that most of Chennaiyin’ s attack comes through the Brazilian. Meitei also did well against Isma who was a live wire in their attack against Jamshedpur FC. Chennaiyin to an extent did the same with Facundo as Tangri was marking him the whole game. This is why even though both Crivellaro and Facundo had decent games, they could not create any clear cut chances.
In the second half the game started with both teams giving respect to each other and after figuring out the strength of each other. We where having more possession but Chennaiyin was setup very well that chances were less. Rahul KP came on for Seityasen when the second half began and was creating problems on the right side with his pace as we where playing our 3rd game in 9 days.
Injuries also became a part as Denechandra, Nongdamba and eventually Cido had to go off. The game became very short stop at both ends and was played mostly on counters by both teams. The man marking of Crivellaro went the wrong way as Cido conceded a Penalty in the 74th minute. Though there were some shaky moments in the first half, Albino was brilliant throughout the game and became the hero of the match for Kerala Blasters by saving the penalty taken by Jakub Sylvestr.
Blasters have 2 points from 3 games. But we have to assess the performances also along with it. There are gradual improvements in every game. Back five including GK has good understanding now and Rohit seems to be stepping up as a CDM. Facundo was very promising in that 10 role as a creator. Blasters have good rotation going on in the forward areas. Sooner rather than later it will all come together. Remember the season is a marathon not a race.