After knocking out Indian Super League 2018-19 champions Bengaluru FC in the quarter-finals, Chennai City FC will look to add another big win to their name when they face FC Goa in the first Super Cup 2019 semi-final at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.
The Gaurs, on the other hand, will be eager to overcome the tough hurdle and reach their second final of the season, having featured in the ISL finale last month.
Both sides have a knack for playing entertaining football and Tuesday’s fixture promises to be an enthralling affair at the very least.
Chennai aim to continue impressive run
This season’s I-League champions have already dispatched off two ISL sides - FC Pune City and Bengaluru - in their road to the semis and will back themselves to progress to the final at the expense of the Gaurs.
Chennai’s Spanish trio - Pedro Manzi, Nestor and Sandro - will be in focus yet again, but Chennai goalkeeper Mauro Boerchio’s Player of the Match performance against Bengaluru proves that Akbar Nawas’ side is rife with potential heroes across the pitch.
he Italian ‘keeper was in sensational touch against Bengaluru, making some stunning saves to ensure the victory for his team. With the substantial attacking threat posed by Goa, expect Mauro to play a key role once again on Tuesday.
Apart from their strong foreign contingent, Chennai also have a talented core of young Indian players to call upon. The likes of Gaurav Bora, Edwin Vanspaul, Tarif Akhand and Regin M have impressed throughout the season and can turn out to be the difference on their day.
Chennai are adept at playing in the likes of Manzi, Nestor and Sandro behind the opposition defence with long balls and Goa’s tendency to keep a high line might just play into their hands.
Injury concerns for Goa
The Gaurs will go into the match sans Edu Bedia after the Spaniard was sent off for a double booking against Jamshedpur. Bedia is a vital cog in Lobera’s system and has been influential for Goa throughout the season, scoring 7 goals in the ISL and has already found the net twice in the ongoing Super Cup.
The 30-year-old will be a huge miss for Goa, but in the larger scheme of things, the Gaurs arguably possess enough depth in the squad to mitigate his absence. Hugo Boumous offers a like-for-like replacement for Bedia and will bring in a potent goal threat in the opposition half.
Lobera can also opt to switch things up and throw in Ahmed Jahouh, if he is fit. The deep-lying playmaker offers something very different from Bedia and the recently-concluded ISL season bears testimony to exactly how effective the Moroccan can be. The 30-year-old was arguably one of the best midfielders of ISL 2018-19 and will have a big bearing on the tie if he plays.
A big concern for Lobera will be in defence, which somewhat crumbled under pressure in the second half against Jamshedpur in the quarter-finals. The likes of Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena have been a force to be reckoned with since the start of the year but looked indecisive and leaky in the final 45 minutes against Jamshedpur, letting in three goals in the process. With the likes of Manzi, Nestor and Sandro lining up on the opposite side come Tuesday, the Goa’s backline will need to put up a much sterner front if they want to reach the final.
On the other hand, Goa’s front three - Ferran Corominas, Jackichand Singh and Brandon Fernandes - have been sensational throughout the season and will make sure that the Chennai City defence will need to be on their toes at all times to make sure the Goa offensive doesn’t blow them away, like they have done to so many sides over the course of the season.