Delhi Dynamos FC began their ISL 2016 campaign in style with a comprehensive 3-1 win against defending champions Chennaiyin FC at the Marina Arena. The home team looked a pale shadow of the team that went toe to toe against Atletico de Kolkata four days ago. Here are a five takeaways from the match:
Delhi clearly dominated the midfield
First of all, Delhi manager Gianluca Zambrotta sprung a surprise by dropping his marquee signing, Florent Malouda, to the bench. Bruno Pelissari, the Chennaiyin player who moved to Delhi Dynamos this season was benched as well. This turned out to be a masterstroke as Chennaiyin had to face five in the midfield. The defending champions could barely string a few passes at will at the center of the park. This is indicated clearly when we see Raphael Augusto had 67 (highest) passes while the highest among the other five of his teammates was a mere 37 passes. The midfield battle was Delhi's for the taking.
Chennaiyin's defence set up for a kicking
A combined 71-year old center back pairing that was playing its second full game within five days was always going to be behind a 22-year old Richard Gadze bubbling with energy and enthusiasm. Add to this the pacy winger Marcelo Pereira who drifted to the centre from the right, Chennaiyin were in a pickle from the beginning trying to maintain a high line. Both Bernard Mendy and John Arne Riise were caught out of position as the Delhi Dynamos' attacking players ran circles around them. A team that was touted to have the strongest defence, Chennaiyin have already conceded 5 goals in 2 games!
The scoreline masks the chaos that is Chennaiyin's defence
Delhi should have had 4 or 5 goals in the first half alone. They were denied as early as the 12th minute by the referee's assistant with a contentious offside call. Duwayne Kerr also didn't help matters making two costly errors - he was saved the blushes on the first one, thanks to Kean Lewis' heavy touch following his misplaced pass and the second was the penalty he conceded that led to the first goal. The centrebacks where caught ball watching as Richard Gadze split the defence to send Marcelo through for the second goal. And for the third goal again, Riise was too busy keeping up with the ball than with Badara Badji leaving young Jerry Lalrinzuala to handle him. Mehrajuddin Wadoo was the lone light of comfort within the chaos that was Chennaiyin's back four.
The Creativity in the midfield is missing for Chennaiyin
One of the biggest reasons John Stiven Mendoza flourished was because of the pace at which Chennaiyin could transition the ball up front. Raphael Augusto played a very important role in this aspect. He had the liberty to venture forward last season with either of Harmanjot Khabra or Manuele Blasi or Zakeer Mundampara providing the defence a screen. So far in the two matches that Chennaiyin have played, Augusto seems to be wasted in a deeper role and this has clearly affected the creativity from the midfield. Jeje's pass to send Dudu through for Chennaiyin's only goal was one of the flashes of brilliance which the forward had to create.
Dudu can replace Mendoza, but needs support
Replacing a 13-goal striker sounds an arduous task for anyone, but Dudu Omagbemi went about his task in right manner given his first start for Chennaiyin. Dudu is nowhere in comparison with Mendozo when it comes to pace, but he makes up for that with his subtle skills to avoid his man. He shows the willingness to find the pockets of spaces to make his runs and have a shy at the goal whenever possible. He just needs the right kind of service from the midfield to further enhance his reputation. His run for the beautiful goal set up by Jeje Lalpekhlua was perfectly timed.
Chennaiyin, with just a point from two games, have a week before the next match to dwell on their mistakes. They should look to put on a much better performance for their beloved home crowd come next thursday.