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The Marina Machans got back to winning ways after four matches…

Rafael Crivellaro, without doubt, has been one of the most creative midfielders in the Indian Super League (ISL) ever since he joined Chennaiyin FC last season. And the Brazilian once again proved how important he is to the team after scoring and assisting in Chennaiyin’s 2- win over FC Goa on Saturday night. 

The Marina Machans came into the match without registering a win in their last four matches and were desperate for three points against FC Goa who were also coming into this game on the back of a loss. 

Crivellaro, who had sat out Chennaiyin’s goalless draw against NorthEast United, brought a lot of creativity and guile to their midfield. If in the earlier few matches, Crivellaro seemed a bit out of sync with Jakub Sylvestr and Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev, that was not the case on Saturday. 

Even last season, it took Crivellaro about five or six matches before he gelled with his attacking teammates like Nerijus Valskis and Andre Schembri. 

He seemed to have found that wavelength on which his fellow forwards operated again and was finding them with his passes easily against Goa. Anirudh Thapa’s energy in midfield also meant that Laszlo’s tactics to stop Goa from playing out with constant pressing were very effective.

With the constant pressing upfront, the Gaurs could not pursue their natural gameplay. In many ways, this match should have been a lopsided one with Chennaiyin winning by a fair few goals. 

Against FC Goa, what was striking is that Csaba Lazslo’s team, looked very much or resembled the Chennaiyin FC of Owen Coyle from the second half of the last season.

Rafel Crivellar, FC Goa vs Chennaiyin

They put pressure on the opposition defenders and midfielders, try to win ball high up the pitch and initiate quick attacks. They also look to close down the goalkeeper, who is looking to play from the back. It was apparent that Chennaiyin were targeting Mohammed Nawaz given his short stature and hence, the first goal from Rafael Crivellaro where he sent his corner-kick straight into the back of the net. In fact, he nearly got it right once again in the first half.

Of all the players who have left FC Goa from last season, the player they haven’t replaced and still are struggling in his absence is Ahmed Jahouh. The Moroccan would build-up play from the back and also double up as a destroyer with his tactical fouls. Ferrando has tasked Bedia with the same responsibility however, the Spaniard is more effective further up the field than when being asked to sit back and spray the ball around.

That absence of a fulcrum in midfield meant that while Goa tried to play out from the back, they would be unable to cope with Chennaiyin’s pressing and pace, giving up the ball plenty of times in dangerous spaces. 

Chennaiyin’s second goal was borne out of such a mistake with Crivellaro capitalising and finding Rahim Ali to tap in. 

It is not to say Goa were poor overall. Jorge Ortiz and Igor Angulo were brilliant going forward, especially Ortiz who seems to be a quality player on the ball. It was his determination and guile that saw FC Goa equalise in the first half. But apart from Ortiz and Angulo, the rest of the Goa side looked laboured. 

Maybe it was the fatigue, but the fact remains that Laszlo’s Chennaiyin FC outsmarted FC Goa easily. It could be said that they did so against Mumbai City as well, only for individual errors to dig their own pits. 

After a win that they desperately needed, Chennaiyin FC will look to kick on and stitch a winning run together. For FC Goa, it’s back to the drawing board after back-to-back defeats. 

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December 20, 2020
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