Odisha will host Goa at the Kalinga Stadium on Monday in an effort to improve their chances of qualifying for the playoffs as the race for the top six heats up. The Gaurs are peaking at just the right time, having outclassed East Bengal 4-2 in their previous outing, while Josep Gombau’s team enters this match off of a tense 2-2 draw with Chennaiyin, another team that is also vying for a spot in the top six.
With 26 points, Carlos Pena’s team is currently fifth in the league, three points ahead of the Juggernauts, who are sixth. With 22 and 18 points, Bengaluru and the Marina Machans are seventh and eighth, respectively. They also remain in the race to finish in the top six with four games remaining; consequently, the upcoming weeks will be crucial for all of the aforementioned teams. This match between the Gaurs and the Kalinga Warriors may, therefore, have a significant impact on the two teams’ final standings.
Given the Juggernauts’ recent struggles, the Guars will be favorites to earn all three points, despite the fact that there is little that separates the two teams in terms of league standings. However, Gombau’s team has a winning home record, which may just tip the balance in their favor. Taking everything into account, a draw might be the most likely outcome.
The Kalinga Warriors have won just three of their 19 league matches against the Gaurs, while the Gaurs have won 12 of their 19 league games against each other and have drawn four of them. Pena’s team won the reverse match earlier this year by a score of 3-0.
The Spaniard’s decision to play Iker Guarrotxena as a striker has paid off, as the Spaniard is leading the league in goals scored with 10 and will be leading the line again after scoring in his previous three games. Devendra Murgaonkar has started both of the previous matches and appears to be in the playing XI once more, ahead of Redeem Tlang. The rest of the lineup has been pretty much the same since the start of the campaign.
Gombau has been trying out new players in an effort to change the Juggernauts’ fortunes because the Juggernauts have been having trouble winning recently. He chose to play with Nanda Kumar and Isak Vanlalruatfela on the flanks, and the latter even got a goal, proving that he should start again. In a similar vein, Raynier Fernandes appears to have been overtaken in the hierarchy by Isaac Vanmalsawma, who may be in line to start once more.
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