The first round of Indian Super League season 5 will be complete when host Delhi Dynamos FC lock horns against FC Pune City at 7.30 pm on Wednesday (October 3) at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Both the northern and eastern clubs experienced contrasting fortunes in the last season when the Lions finished disappointing eighth and the Orange Army reached the playoffs for the first time in their history.
FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos FC have come face to face in eight times so far in the Indian Super League. The Delhi outfit has won four times while Pune managed to win only once leaving other three matches in a draw.
For the 2018-19 season, there is an interesting twist as visiting coach Miguel Angel Portugal was at the helm of the home team last season. Under the Spanish coach, Delhi Dynamos had an underwhelming season and hence, Portugal will the centre of attention with his new team. Portugal has retained the core team of the FC Pune City for 2018-19 and also added some bright young talent.
Meanwhile, Delhi Dynamos under another Spaniard, Josep Gombau, revamped the club's foreign contingent to supplement a promising group of Indian youngsters. The fresh squad is expected to have a roaring start with a win in their season opener.
Delhi Dynamos FC
Gombau has signed four of his compatriots and the key player is Marcos Tebar. The Spanish midfielder played for Pune last season and now returns to Delhi for a second stint with the club. He was exceptional in the midfield of the Orange Army last year and expected carryover the form along with former Chennaiyin FC man Rene Mihelic.
The Lions has also heavily reinforced the back line with Marti Crespi Pascual and Gianni Zuiverloon as centre-backs complemented with Pritam Kotal and Narayan Das on the flanks. Experienced goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro is expected start between the sticks.
Andrija Kaluderovic will spearhead the attack while Lallianzuala Chhangte and Nandhakumar Sekar are likely to aid the team down the flanks.
FC Pune City
Miguel Portugal has a luxury of attackers at his disposal for the season 5. The terrific duo Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro decided to stick with the club and that sorts out the front line. With pacy wingers in Ashique Kuruniyan and Nikhil Poojari set to play on the flanks the front line of FC Pune City looks daring and Delhi's defenders have to be on their toes in the entire 90 minutes. However, Marcelinho is suspended for the first game and hence Emiliano Alfaro does have an extra responsibility in the game against Delhi Dynamos.
Jonathan Vila and Adil Khan are expected to operate from the midfield while Matt Mills could make his debut for the club in defence, alongside Martin Diaz and Sahil Panwar. Vishal Kaith will be the first choice goalkeeper for Pune City.
Probable starting 11
DELHI DYNAMOS: Francisco Dorronsoro, Gianni Zuiverloon, Marti Crespi, Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das, Bikramjit Singh, Marcos Tebar, Vinit Rai, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Nandhakumar Sekar, Andrija Kaluderovic
FC PUNE CITY: Vishal Kaith, Matt Mills, Gurtej Singh, Sarthak Golui, Sahil Panwar, Jonathan Vila, Adil Ahmed Khan, Marko Stankovic, Diego Carlos, Muhammed Ashique Kuruniyan, Emiliano Alfaro
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