Free-scoring FC Goa has qualified for the semifinals of the Indian Super League a record fourth time but has never won the title.
Going by the team's performances during the league phase, the club could go all the way this season if it manages to get past an efficient Mumbai City FC.
PREVIEW:Resolute Mumbai City faces goal-hungry FC Goa
Goa started the season with a draw in Guwahati, but Ferran Corominas — the golden boot winner last season (with 18 goals) and the leading scorer (with 15 goals) this season — continuing where he left off last season was a big positive. In the three games that followed, against champion Chennaiyin FC, Mumbai City and FC Pune City, Goa scored 12 times with Corominas scoring four goals. Corominas has been ably supported by Eduardro Bedia Pelaez up front.
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The fellow Spaniard has scored seven times, which would make him the top scorer for six other teams this season. Goa has traditionally been the team to play the most expansive football while scoring at will. Last season, the team scored a record 42 times but ended up conceding 28 goals. While the goals have continued to flow this season (35 goals), head coach Sergio Lobera has overseen a huge improvement in the team's defending. It has conceded just 20 goals, only bettered by NorthEast United. Goa leads the table in terms of clean sheets (8) kept.
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Considering the team kept only two clean sheets last season, it is hard not to appreciate the work done by Lobera. Goa confirmed its place in the semifinals with a win against Kerala Blasters, a match that saw the best of this side on display — Corominas and Edu Bedia scoring while the defence kept a clean sheet. A surprising 3-0 loss at home to 10-man Bengaluru denied it a top of the table finish, despite finishing with the same points as the Blues, by virtue of a weaker head-to-head record.
Statistics do not always tell the full story, but Goa could be an exception. Its style of play sees the ball stay on the ground for the most part, with long balls and crosses kept at a minimal. In fact, Goa has consistently figured in the bottom half of the table when it comes to the number of crosses made.
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Possession is continuously recycled and the passes keep flowing. It is the only team in the league's history to have crossed 10,000 passes in a season and came close to doing it again this season. Goa will want to get to the final, and win its maiden title, and there will not be many betting against it.
Player to watch out for
Ferran Corominas: The 36-year-old Spaniard, the gold boot holder, is once again the leading scorer. He has scored 15 times this season and his overall tally, which stands at 33 goals from 37 games, has seen him overtake Iain Hume's record for the most goals in the league’s history.
Corominas is perhaps the league's most 'complete' striker. He makes clever runs beyond the last line of defence, finds space between defensive lines to get involved with the play, has an explosive finish and doesn't lose out physically despite being just 5' 8". He has already scored twice against Mumbai, home and away, and the Islanders will want to keep him in check to have a chance of progressing beyond the semis.
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