Indian Super League 2020/21: Jamshedpur FC vs Chennaiyin FC – tactical analysis
The exhilarating and enthralling fixture would have been much more exciting if the fans were allowed inside the stadium as Owen Coyle faced his former club, Chennaiyin FC. Owen Coyle took the Marina Machans from the last position to the final of the Indian Super League 2019/20, however, shifted his base to the steel City for the 2020/21 campaign. Owen Coyle wasn’t the only personality to shift his base, he took along with him 2019/20’s Golden Boot winner as well as the exuberant Laldinliana Renthlei to Jamshedpur FC.
The game was as exciting as the fixture sounded with both the teams trying to get the breakthrough in early minutes. Anirudh Thapa scored within a minute for Chennaiyin FC, becoming the first Indian scorer for the 2020/21 campaign.
In this tactical analysis, we will discuss the tactics of both the managers and the intricacies of the game. This analysis will also dive into the details of why Jamshedpur lost the game against the Marina Machans.
Owen Coyle, the former Burnley gaffer, started with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Rehenesh TP was protected by Landinliana Renthlei, Stephen Eze, Peter Hartley, and the young Sandip Mandi. Aitor Monroy and Jitendra Singh manned the midfield. The front four consisted of Jackichand Singh, Alex Lima, Isaac Vanmalsawma, and the dangerous Nerijus Valskis.
Chennaiyin’s formation on paper read 4-3-3, however, the Marina Machans played with a 4-1-3-2 with Isma and Jakub Sylvestr leading the attack. The second line of attack looked interesting with Anirudh Thapa shifting to the right-wing. Rafael Crivellaro played as the attacking midfielder and Lallianzuala Chhangte in his usual position. Deepak Tangri acted as the screen in front of Reagan Singh, Eli Sabiá, Enes Sipović, and Chhuantea Fanai. Vishal Kaith positioned himself in between the sticks.
Jamshedpur’s press in the final third and Chennaiyin’s build-up
Chennaiyin hardly built-up from the back but on a few occasions when the Marina Machans did build-up from the back, Jamshedpur pressed them high. The pressing structure was mainly man-oriented with the striker, Valskis, and the CAM, Lima pressed the two Chennaiyin centre-backs. Lima initially positioned nearer to the opposition pivot but when one Chennaiyin centre-back passed the ball to another, the pressing was triggered and Lima quickly moved up to aggressively press the centre-back keeping the pivot in the cover shadow as well as forcing the build-up towards the flanks.
The two wingers remained close and pressed the opposition full-backs respectively in to out if the ball was played to them, with the main idea to keep pushing the Chennaiyin build-up towards the flanks. The two pivots, Jitendra and Monroy maintained their position as well as remained close to Crivellaro and Tangri whoever was in their vicinity.
However, when Thapa inverted inside and acted as the double pivot, Crivellaro and Tangri created an overload on Monroy.
Chennaiyin troubled Jamshedpur with their counter-attacks mainly. However, the only way Chennaiyin troubled Jamshedpur in their first and second phase of build-up was through Crivellaro creating an overload on certain players. Here, as you can see, Crivellaro dropped deep and created an overload on Monroy along with Tangri and helped in the build-up.
He did not only stay limited to the central region. The creative powerhouse was given the license to roam around and create numerical superiority over certain players.
As can be seen in the above image, he drifted to the left flank a few minutes later and opened up a passing lane for Fanai with Monroy struggling to recover and mark the Brazilian. The right-back of Jamshedpur can’t move up to press the Brazilian as he had Chhangte to cover.
Jamshedpur’s press in the middle third and Chennaiyin’s build-up
In the middle third, Jamshedpur pressed the away side in more of a 4-2-3-1 space-oriented man marking. Valskis had the responsibility of covering both the centre-backs, pressing the ball carrier centre-back keeping the other in his cover shadow. The other players marked the respective opposition player in their space.
The above image also shows the build-up pattern of Chennaiyin in this situation. Chhangte inverts and drops deep and Fanai moves up as well. Crivellaro again tries to create an overload on Monroy. However, the positional play came of no use as Sipović opted for long balls most of the time.
However, Chennaiyin did threaten Jamshedpur with their positional play on very few occasions and most of it came due to the positioning of both the strikers. Both the strikers maintained the height and operated in between the opposition centre-backs and full-backs or maintained width and pinned the full-backs. It helped in creating overload on the Jamshedpur full-backs especially the right-back where Chhnagte operated in tandem with the strikers.
As can be seen in the above image, Isma positions himself behind the left-back, and Sylvestr pins the right-back. Sylvestr’s positioning helps in creating an overload on the right-back along with Chhangte. Crivellaro finds the left-winger in a lot of space. This situation could have resulted in a goal for Chennaiyin if not for Rehenesh’s save.
The image below is another example of Chennaiyin troubling the opposition with the strikers’ positioning.
To negate the overload on Renthlei (RB), Jackichand Singh drops back to cover Chhangte but now the Chennaiyin left-back, Fanai, is left with a lot of time and space. You can see, Jackichand asking for help from his teammates. Fanai delivered a good ball in the 18-yard box but Chennaiyin failed to score from this situation.
The movement of both the strikers, pinning the full-backs or operating behind the full-backs or their movement as a whole threatened the Jamshedpur defence.
Chennaiyin’s high press
Chennaiyin pressed the opposition in a 4-1-3-2 structure. The Marina Machans’ pressing was interesting due to Thapa acting neither as an out and out winger nor as a midfielder.
Both the strikers pressed the Jamshedpur centre-backs with the intention of forcing the ball wide.
As soon as the ball was forced wide, the second line of press would shift and press a different opposition. Initially, Thapa, Crivellaro would position themselves centrally covering the double pivot of Jamshedpur. If the ball was played to the right-back of Jamshedpur, there wouldn’t be any change, with Chhangte pressing the Jamshedpur left-back and Crivellaro and Thapa marking the double pivots. But when the ball was played to the left-back, Thapa moved on to press the left-back and Crivellaro shifted to cover Thapa’s initial opponent. Chhangte also shifts but not completely, positioning himself in between the right-back and Crivellaro’s initial opposition.
It created a pressing trap, with a striker covering the ball-near centre-back, Thapa pressing the ball-carrier, and the other surrounding players closely marked by the Chennaiyin players. It forced Jamshedpur to play long balls in the initial minutes. In this instance, the left-back, Mandi lost the ball in a very dangerous position but the Marina Machans failed to capitalise on this situation.
However, the problem was that the Brazilian was often slow in shifting relative to Thapa, and thus the left-back, most of the times had an easy passing option in form of the ball-near pivot.
The pressing trap also became ineffective due to Crivellaro’s pressing. Due to the slow movement of the Brazilian, a striker often covered the passing lane to the pivot instead of being closer to the ball-near centre-back.
As you can see in the image above, Isma cover shadows Jitendra instead of covering the passing lane to Hartley. Mandi passes the ball back to Hartley and Jamshedpur again starts their build-up. A striker covering the passing lane to the ball near-pivot was a much safer option instead of trying to play a passing trap with a slower Crivellaro.
Another problem to Crivellaro’s pressing was that it also left Thapa in a decisional crisis occasionally.
Here, as you can see, Thapa struggles to decide on whom to cover, the left-back or the ball-near pivot, and instead positions himself between the two.
Crivellaro is indispensable when it comes to the attacking aspect of Chennaiyin’s game but the Brazilian creator should improve his defensive abilities if Chennaiyin wants to win the coveted trophy.
Quality possessional setup by Owen Coyle
Owen Coyle might be known for his counter attacking prowess in his time at Chennaiyin but in this game, he showed glimpses of fine possessional play.
Lima’s off the ball movement
Alex Lima, the former Houston Dynamo player was key to the rotations and vacating space for the dangerous Valskis to drop deep. Tangri sat in front of the last line of defence with his main responsibility to protect the zone as well as mark Lima closely. Lima used to move wide to the left flank dragging away Tangri along with him thus vacating the dangerous space in front of the last line of defence. Valskis used to drop deep to that space dragging away a centre-back along with him.
When Lima used to move to the flanks, Isaac would invert and support. As can be seen in the above image, it created a 2 v 1 situation on Sabiá. Lima dragged away Tangri with him as well as created a decisional crisis on the right-back whether to stay in his zone or move up and mark Isaac as the Brazilian positioned himself in the right-back’s zone. Valskis received the ball from Hartley and played a first time ball to Isaac but Singh (RB) stood up to his task and covered Isaac very quickly for the possessional play not to materialise into something beautiful for Jamshedpur.
Again, in the image below, you can see how Lima’s movement engaged both the right-back as well as Tangri, leaving the inverted Isaac unmarked.
You can see Lima asking the left-back, Mandi, to take the help of the unmarked Isaac. However, Mandi made a wrong decision to play the ball to Lima who was marked by two players and Jamshedpur’s attack resulted in a turnover.
Again, an instance is shown below, where Lima’s positioning engaged the same Chennaiyin players leaving Isaac unmarked. The attack could have been successfully carried out if Mandi took the support of Jitendra to reach Isaac through the 3rd man principle.
However, Mandi again made a poor decision of playing the ball directly to Isaac who was in Thapa’s cover shadow, and lost the ball.
Mandi was the weakest link on the field. His decision making both offensively and defensively cost Jamshedpur numerous times.
Valskis is known for linking up the play by dropping deep and Owen Coyle carried the attack mostly through him.
Here, the right-back, Renthlei, played the ball to the dropping Valskis. As soon as the ball was played to him, Tangri’s attention shifted completely towards the 2019/20 ISL Golden Boot winner. The rotation started to take shape, with Valskis deep, Jackichand tried to exploit the space left behind by Sipović as he stuck to the Lithuanian striker. Monroy moved out of Tangri’s cover shadow and Renthlei attacked the space left behind by the Chennaiyin left-back as he had to follow Jackichand. Valskis laid off the pass to Monroy who found the marauding right-back. However, Renthlei’s cross was brilliantly intercepted by Sipović.
In the above instance, you could again see Lima on the wide left. Lima’s movement did drag away Tangri from his position but the Chennaiyin midfielder recovered back in time when the ball was switched from the left to right (from Jamshedpur’s perspective).
The other rotation Jamshedpur stressed on was the winger, full-back rotation. The winger would invert to the half space and the full-back would make an overlapping run.
Here, Jackichand inverts to the half space and Renthlei starts to make an overlapping run. However, this rotation did not trouble Chennaiyin much, as Jackichand’s movement did not drag away the Chennaiyin left-back from his position for Renthlei to exploit.
Overload to isolate
Jackichand inverting, helped Jamshedpur to carry out another aspect of possessional play, overload to isolate.
The ball was circulated on the left flank (from Jamshedpur’s perspective) dragging the Chennaiyin unit towards their right leaving the left flank (from Chennaiyin’s perspective) exposed. Jamshedpur took the help of Monroy to switch the channel. Jackichand’s positioning engaged both Chhangte and Fanai in this instance. Renthlei tried to exploit the situation by making a marauding run but Monroy’s passive passing did not help Jamshedpur’s cause.
Overload to isolate can be of two types. One – creating an unmarked space for a player to exploit, as in the above case. Two – creating a situation where a superior player would be one on one with an opposition player, basically a qualitative superiority.
In this instance, Jackichand did not invert and rather maintained the width. The Chennaiyin unit shifted towards the right flank leaving Jackichand one on one with Fanai. However, Jitendra’s switch was overcooked and the Red Miners conceded a turnover.
Owen Coyle chalked out a few good possessional play for Jamshedpur but the inefficiency of the Jamshedpur players to execute it let the team down.
Jamshedpur’s poor defensive transition
Jamshedpur’s main area of concern was when they lost the ball. Chennaiyin hit the Red Miners with five counter attacks, two on target. The rest defence looked poor on certain occasions but the execution of counterpressing was poorer.
Here, five players were left behind the ball-carrier but the rest defence could have done the work. However, the counter pressing was horrid. Jackichand (the nearest player to the ball carrier) jogged back without putting any pressure on the ball carrier and Monroy’s body orientation was poor. The vertical body orientation of the Spaniard completely exposed the central region. Chhangte found Crivellaro and even though Hartley put pressure on him, he moved past Hartley given the magician he is. He released the ball in a dangerous position where Chennaiyin were 2 v 2 against the Red Miners.
One thing the Indian Super League players lack from the superior players is the awareness. Many players don’t scan the field while making any decision. As can be seen in the case of Monroy, he is unaware of Crivellaro’s position and thus having a poor body orientation.
In the image below, a similar situation can be seen below, where Sabiá is left with too much time on the ball with no one quickly closing him and Jackichand is unaware of the opposition player to cover shadow, thus leaving a passing lane completely unmarked.
Owen Coyle’s possessional play might be good but a good possessional team should be coupled with a good rest defence. The British gaffer should work on his defensive transition structure as well as his players need to read the game much better.
Chennaiyin are the deserving winner with an xG of 2.1 compared to Jamshedpur’s 0.92. Jamshedpur showed glimpses of good possessional play but the players failed to execute. One of the reasons Jamshedpur struggled in 2019/20 was due their not so quality full-backs. The Red Miners covered the right-back with Renthlei but the left-back is still the areas of concern. Sandip Mandi was poor both on the offensive end as well as the defensive end. If Sandip Mandi had made better decisions, the scoreline might have been different.
Chennaiyin’s counter attacking game was on point with the Brazilian magician leading the charge and Chhangte, Isma, and Sylvestr giving him good company. However, if not for Chhangte and Sylvestr’s poor finishing, the scoreline would have been much more dreadful for Jamshedpur.
Chennaiyin, however, have to work on their pressing. Jamshedpur showed how the pressing structure could be exploited and a good possessional team would definitely exploit Chennaiyin with better execution.