Kerala Blasters FC will be facing Odisha FC on Sunday, 5th December. The Yellow army will be looking to end their winless run and win their first game of the Indian Super League 2021-22 season whereas the Kalinga Warriors will look to continue their winning streak. The match is supposed to be held in Tilak Maidan, Goa from 7:30 PM IST. Let's look at the 5 things we may expect from this exciting encounter:
Javi Hernandez can be the deciding factor.
Javi Hernandez has lit up the Indian Super League with his recent form. The Spaniard has scored 3 goals and assisted 2 in just 2 games, rather than 1.5 games when he was taken off at halftime versus SC East Bengal. Javi Hernandez starting the previous game as a number 9 shocked everyone, however, he managed to assist twice and score once before being taken off at halftime. He also scored a brace in the opening match and currently is in absolute burning form.
Against Kerala Blasters Javi Hernandez can be the deciding factor. It won't come as surprise if Javi maintains his scoring form against Kerala Blasters too. However, the defence pairing of Enes Sipovic and Marko Leskovic is looking good since the second KBFC game in terms of performance. The duo has only let in one goal and 3 shots on target since pairing. It will be a good battle between Javi Hernandez and Enes Sipovic combined with Marko Leskovic.
Odisha FC very strong in set-pieces
Odisha FC has scored a total of 5 set-piece goals this season, only in just 2 matches. That shows how strong they are when it comes to set-pieces. Odisha FC has got Javi Hernandez and Aridai Cabrera as two extremely abled set-piece experts. Both have got excellent ability to deliver or score by themselves during a set piece situation. Both Javi and Aridai have scored from a direct set piece this season. Hernandez has even scored an Olympic goal last game vs SC East Bengal FC (direct goal from a corner kick). Another plus point Odisha FC has is Hector Rodas himself. Besides being a centre-back, Rodas is very good when it comes to heading abilities. Rodas headed in two goals from set-pieces, one from a free-kick and another from a corner in the previous match versus SC East Bengal FC. Further in the league, Rodas can be termed as a "goal-scoring centre back" if he continues what he did in the last match.
Vincy Barretto may trouble Odisha defence
Vincy Barretto is looking very sharp in the right-wing for Kerala Blasters since his debut for Kerala Blaster FC against NorthEast United FC. The 21-year-old has got a good set of pacey feet with skilful touch and various tricks at his disposal. Vincy Barretto will be crucial if Kerala Blasters wants to unsettle Odisha FC's defence. Talking about OFC defence, it's not in excellent shape. Despite winning both games, OFC has conceded 5 goals in just 2 matches. A stat that shows their weakness in defence unlike their stronghold during set-piece situations. Rodas is very good when it comes to aerial presence. But the defensive duo of Hector Rodas and Victor Mongil needs a lot to be called a good defensive pair. Both Victor Mongil and Hector Rodas lack speed while defending and leave a lot of gaps in between, a weakness Vincy Barretto may exploit to the fullest in favour of his team.
Aridai Cabrera off the bench will be dangerous
Aridai Cabrera will be a very crucial figure if Odisha FC is to shine this season. Full of trickery with good pacey feet, Aridai is a player full of potential. But the most important fact about Aridai is his ability to step up and deliver whenever called upon. He has been the perfect super-sub for the side hailing from Odisha. In the first match, Aridai dribbled past two Bengaluru FC defenders very easily before burying the ball most easily. Against SC East Bengal FC, Aridai came on as a halftime substitute to score an excellent brace, one from a direct freekick and the other with a powerful shot. He will be very crucial as a substitute or if he starts against Kerala Blasters FC. Aridai will be looking to continue his impressive form of scoring in every game, no matter if he gets his first start or is used as a substitute again.
Kerala Blasters in search of their first win
Kerala Blasters are yet to win a game this season besides missing a spot in the semifinals for the past four seasons. The South Indian side is heavily underperforming for a long time and this season, as they search for their first win after playing 3 games. Blasters are also struggling in terms of results, they have scored 3 goals and conceded 5 in 3 games. Sahal Abdul Samad with quick feet will be very important if KBFC wants to penetrate OFC defence numerous times. A good pair between Sahal and Vincy Barretto down both wings added with clinical finishing from forwards will be the main ingredient to exploit weak Odisha FC defence that will help them to end their winless run.
Kerala Blasters FC (4-4-2): Albino(GK), Khabra, Leskovic, Sipovic, Jessel(C), Vincy, Jeakson, Puitea, Sahal, Luna, Vazquez.
Odisha FC (4-2-3-1): Kamaljit(GK), Hendry, Rodas, Mongil, Lalruatthara, Vinit(C), Thoiba, Jerry, Javi, Nadhakumar, Aridai.
The match will be telecasted live on Star Sports 2 & Star Sports 2 HD from 7:30 pm IST and will also be available for live streaming on Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.