FC Goa were looking unstoppable at the start of the 2017-18 season of Indian Super League (ISL). Sergio Lobera's tactics were a breath of fresh air for Indian football and had both fans and pundits going gaga, at least until January.
After winning four games from their first five matches, Goa only won two out of their next 10 fixtures last year. It looked as if teams had figured the Gaurs out and it looks like something similar could happen again this season.
Goa fell to a 0-2 defeat at the hands of a desperate FC Pune City side on Tuesday. The Stallions were not too bothered about keeping the ball and were instead focused on utilizing the space in behind the Goan defence.
While both teams had plenty of chances to score, including efforts that hit the crossbar, the defining moment was when Marcelinho produced a stunning strike from outside the box to give Pune the lead.
Goa then threw bodies forward in search of an equaliser but Mohammad Ali's foul on Marko Stankovic in injury time that resulted in a spot-kick and a goal was a sign of frustration amongst the players. They did not want to lose a game in which they dominated and created chances.
But as football history has taught us, it is not about dominating games. It is about making full use of the chances that you get and isolating your threats.
Pune played a perfect counter-attacking game. They marked Ferran Corominas out of the game and gave themselves a chance to nullify the lethal Goa attack. It is not to say that Corominas is their only attacking threat but the Spanish striker is on a different level altogether when it comes to goalscoring and stopping him makes matters simpler.
Goa are the league's highest scorers this season but they are winless in their last three matches and have only scored one goal (which was offside). Last season, it was exactly after 10 matches that Goa went on a winless run of five matches but given their position on the league table is not as strong as it was last season, there may not be an escape route to the playoffs this time around.
Sergio Lobera will want to ensure that his team starts winning games again because otherwise, the likes of ATK and Jamshedpur are watching keenly with their eyes firmly on a play-off spot.