The 2016 Indian Super League table topper NorthEast United FC will travel to Delhi this Saturday to face an unbeaten side Delhi Dynamos FC. Both teams will be looking to win the next match to keep up their progression in ISL season 3. The visitors have made their strongest start in the ISL history with three wins out of four against Kerala, Goa and Pune. Meanwhile, Delhi had begun their campaign with an impressive 3-1 win over defending champions Chennaiyin FC in Chennai before playing out a goal-less draw at Kochi against Kerala Blasters to collect four points from two matches.
Delhi Dynamos began their 2016 season with perhaps the most notable result so far -a 3-1 away victory against reigning champions Chennaiyin — but fizzled out in their second game, a dull 0-0 against Kerala Blasters. Delhi were at their best in Chennai, as Marcelo Pereira orchestrated the game from the wing, and created chance after chance for his teammates while helping himself to two goals. However, they were equally as grim against a Kerala side in what was their second successive away game to kick off the new season. Such discrepancy has been the biggest roadblock for Delhi in past seasons, too, preventing them from forging any kind of momentum. If head coach Gianluca Zambrotta is to address that problem this year, he needs more from his midfield, mainly his marquee player Florent Malouda who has had little impact in the first two games.
n 2014, NorthEast United were at the bottom of the league standings, with just three wins throughout the season – a tally they have matched after just four matches this year. In 2015, NorthEast United lost three of their opening four matches, conceding seven goals in the campaign. This year, they have won three of their opening four matches, and are yet to concede from open play; a Diego Forlan penalty is the only time their defense has been breached. NorthEast are far from a fluent, well-oiled machine, but a compact defence, coupled with astute tactics from Portuguese coach Nelo Vingada has made the team hard to beat. NorthEast have been content to mostly sit back and play on the counter, using the pace and movement of Yusa, Velez and Alfaro to devastating effect. Vingada is unlikely to alter this game-plan which has served him well so far against an lively Delhi side and in an away match.
“Of course, we need the Delhi supporters and I am handing them a special invitation to attend. We need their support. In Kerala we played the last match in front of 60,000 supporters and it was not intimidating. For the players, it’s encouraging to play in front of a nice atmosphere,” Delhi Dynamos head coach Gianluca Zambrotta.
“Since the beginning, we are seeing that all teams are improving. It has been an intense campaign for NorthEast and we have already played four games. But there are no excuses. We will play our best against a good team which is playing at home for the first time,” NorthEast United head coach Nelo Vingada.
Delhi Dynamos FC (4-4-1-1): Santana; Singh, Rocha, L’awnkima, C’kraborty; Tobar; Lucca; Lewis, Malouda, Singh, Perrira; Badji.
NorthEast United FC (4-1-3-2): Paul; Singh, Lazaretti, Zakora, Ghosh; Borges; N’dri, Halicharan, Katsumi; Alfaro, Velez.
Playing away in Delhi will be tough as the hosts have always had a good record against NorthEast United FC. However, NorthEast is flying at the moment and played a blinder in Pune. Velez and Alfaro upfront, N’dri and Rowlin in midfield and Paul between the posts provide the looks of a formidable side. We are going for a hard fought away win.
Our Prediction: Delhi Dynamos FC 0 – NorthEast United FC 1