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Youthful Odisha FC against desperate Chennaiyin FC – an interesting fight on the cards!

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A change in tactics from Stuart Baxter inspired Odisha FC’s first victory in the current ISL season…

Odisha FC’s wait for their first victory in the current Indian Super League (ISL) season was finally over, with Stuart Baxter’s side recording a convincing 4-2 victory over the Kerala Blasters on Thursday.

It took them nine matches but they finally did it and they did it in style. Before the game, Stuart Baxter lost star striker Manuel Onwu, who was injured during the warm-up and was sent off. For a team struggling to score goals and secure a win, Onwu’s absence was certainly a blow.

The experienced coach has tweaked the lineup in recent games slightly and put the team into a 4-4-2 formation. Daniel Lalhimpuia was Onwu’s last minute replacement and was deployed alongside Diego Mauricio. The Brazilian striker, who usually plays the number 9 role, was used as the second striker against Kerala.

Underperforming full-back Shubham Sarangi was also left out of the starting XI. Australian center-back Jacob Tratt was moved to the right side of the defense while Gaurav Bora was brought in to skipper Taylor, central defense partner.

Both changes worked wonders for Baxter and the change in tactics turned out to be a game-changer against Kerala. Mauricio remained extremely mobile in the third striker and constantly harassed Kerala defenders. He scored twice in the game and was behind Jeakson’s goal in the first half, which restored parity in the game.

Tratt also had an impressive outing in his new role and constantly kept the right flank active with his runs. The Australian got great support from Jerry Mawihmingthanga who looked to be at his best after a very long time.

On Sunday night, they face Chennaiyin FC – who wasted in front of goal. In their last game, the Marina Machans conceded four and certainly they would be looking to redeem themselves against Odisha FC – a side with the second worst defensive record in the league (16).

Baxter is hopeful his team will follow up their performance against Kerala with another strong performance on Sunday to prove that the victory against the Kerala Blasters was not a ‘lightning bolt in the pan’.

Meanwhile, Chennaiyin will be sweating on the fitness of Rafael Crivellaro, who gives the creative impetus alongside Csaba Laszlo. The good news for Chennaiyin FC is that Esma Goncalves is back in contention for a start and has a few minutes under her belt in the final match.

It will be interesting to see if Laszlo decides to field Jakub Sylvestr and Goncalves together in the lineup, which he has only done twice in the campaign.

This should result in an interesting brawl on Sunday.