A flick of the head. A ripple of the net. 18,000 fans blaring their lungs out with ecstasy.
Some games are hard to forget; some moments, even harder.
As Edu Bedia strode off towards the corner flag having scored the winner in the 89th minute, the contrast in the two dugouts couldn’t have been more different. For Delhi, it was another case of ‘so close and yet so far’, while for Goa it was a show of resilience which was especially pleasing as they were returning from their first defeat of the season at the hands of Jamshedpur FC.
Sergio Lobera and Josep Gombau – compatriots championing the Barcelona way of football are close friends as well. However, when Bedia’s strike reduced Gombau to clutching at the grass, there was little that Lobera could have said to console his countryman.
Some moments can make even the toughest man kneel.
At the fag end of the regular season, the two teams lie on two extremes of the table. And thus, their motivations coming into this one are quite different as well.
Delhi posed a formidable challenge when the two teams last met at the Fatorda. Having taken the lead twice on the night, the team from the capital city had enough chances to put the game well and truly beyond the reach of the Gaurs.
Their lack of effectiveness would later come back to haunt them as two late goals from Edu Bedia inflicted further misery on the Dynamos.
The home side don’t have much to play for except pride having been able to garner only 2 wins from their previous 13 games. Delhi nonetheless showed in their last game that they will be up for the fight.
A convincing 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters underlined their desire to finish their season on a strong note.
FC Goa, on the other hand, will look to step through the gears and build on the momentum gained from their win over Mumbai in their last game. That win, their first of the second phase, saw the Gaurs bring an end to the Islanders’ nine-game unbeaten run – the biggest in the club’s history.
The game saw Goa back in full flow. Despite being the away side, it was the Gaurs who controlled the pace of the game – eventually leading to all three points and a second consecutive clean sheet.
The Gaffer’s Call
Even though Delhi are not ‘direct rivals’ to FC Goa in terms of challenging for a spot in the top four, Lobera fully understands that Delhi’s position in the table can be misleading.
Speaking on the game, the gaffer quipped, “We already saw in our game against Delhi at home that they are a team that are a much better team than what their situation on the table reflects. They have displayed a good brand of football and it will be a tough game exactly as it was our first encounter.” With the place for the top four heating up, the Spaniard further iterated that it was crucial for the Gaurs to take things one game at a time and not look too far ahead.
“The most important is to seal it (playoff spot) but not getting obsessed with doing it as soon as possible,” added Lobera. “We have to focus on every remaining game and try to get the maximum points from each.”
Stats and Facts
Delhi and Goa have squared off against each other 11 times in the ISL with two also coming face to face in the semi-finals of ISL 2015. The Gaurs were victorious in that encounter, making the final that year where the Gaurs eventually lost to Chennaiyin FC.
Here are some facts you should keep a mind of heading into the game: