The two teams find themselves at opposite ends of the table but both need a win for their own reasons.
ATK will desperately look for a win when they meet table toppers Bengaluru FC in the Hero Indian Super League tie at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan Stadium, on Saturday. Because they know that anything less than that would mean an early exit for the defending champions.
Having failed to repeat the consistency of the past seasons, ATK are currently 10 points adrift of the top four places with just six games left. But their interim coach, Ashley Westwood believes his side still has a “mathematical chance” of making it to playoffs.
“It is still a mathematical possibility. If we win 6 out of 6, I’m sure we’ll be close. So there is definitely motivation in the team. When you are a professional, you have to keep playing and keeping winning points for your team. You have a duty towards your clubs and your fans. So tomorrow, we will fire on all cylinder and try to get all three points,” Westwood told reporters at the pre-match press conference.
Since taking over from Teddy Sherringham last month, Westwood, who was brought in to resurrect their season, has faced two consecutive defeats. But the English tactician believes his side can still turn it around. But it isn’t that straight forward though. To be in contention, ATK not only need to win all of their remaining six games but they will also hope that other teams above them on the table makes mistakes.
On the up side for the Kolkata team their star player Robbie Keane could make a comeback in the game “He came back to the country on Sunday. He trained with us this morning. We need to access where he is with his fitness. Obviously, we need to make sure we don’t make mistakes regarding putting him in too early. We know how much he wants to play and if required I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Westwood said.
Bengaluru FC, on the other hand, will be looking to continue their dominance at the top of ISL standings. Coach Albert Roca wants his side to keep their focus intact with playoffs not very far away.
“In Delhi we thought it was a easy three points but that didn’t happen, So there is no easy game in ISL. Even ATK are not doing well, but they still have some possibilities. And tomorrow, they will try to win and show that there are those possibilities,” Roca said at the press conference.
Bengaluru FC are fresh from a 3-0 win over Transport United in the AFC Cup
. Roca’s men have also won their last two ISL games, but Roca still feels their needs to be more balance in their performance.
“We want to keep a clean sheet. I think that is important for a team. I am still trying to find that balance in the team. We still haven’t won three consecutive games. We still need to push ourselves,” he said.
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ATK 1-0 Bengaluru FC (0 draws)
Who will come out on top?
Robin Singh (ATK)
The 27-year-old has been a strong option in the attacking line. He uses his physique well to bully the defenders and is also adept at winning aerial duels. With him upfront, ATK tend to create a lot of openings, as he also gets a good few shots away. He has scored once this season and will look to create problems for a formidable Bengaluru defence.
Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)
The Blues’ captain has led from the front for his team. He has been influential in attack, linking well with Venezuelan Miku. He threads a good few passes, while frequently taking the opposition to task with his quick and intelligent runs. Chhetri is the season’s highest-scoring Indian so far with eight goals and an assist to his name, and would look to have a say in a tricky away game.
Ashley Westwood would probably field his team in the 4-4-2 formation, allowing enough movement in the midfield to aid both attack and defence.
Goalkeeper: Debjit Majumder
Defenders: Keegan Pereira, Jordi Montel, Tom Thorpe, Prabir Das
Midfielders: David Cotterill, Conor Thomas, Rupert Nongrum, Jayesh Rane
Forward: Robin Singh, Martin Paterson
The host’s interim head coach on the possibility of making the playoffs: “It is mathematically possible. If we win five games and draw one or win all six games, I am sure we will be very close. So, there is motivation. But, we have to be very professional. We have to keep playing and keep getting points. We have a duty towards the fans and the club. I am sure we will be firing all cylinders and looking to get all three points.”
Albert Roca will probably go for a 4-1-4-1 formation, which relies heavily on their midfield and flanks for proper service to the striker.
Goalkeeper: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Defenders: Rahul Bheke, John Johnson, Juanan, Subhasish Bose
Midfielders: Lenny Rodrigues, Edu Garcia, Erik Paartalu, Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh
The visitor’s head coach on his thoughts about the upcoming clash: “There is nothing called an easy game. ATK still have some possibility to make the semifinals and I’m sure they will fight for the win to show that they can be there. So, we have to be alert. It would be a hard game.”
- Bengaluru are the only team to have not drawn a single game this season
- Both teams have played 12 matches, but the Blues’ points tally (24) is twice that of ATK’s (12)
Bengaluru FC 1 – 0 ATK (7th January 2018 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru)
Form Guide (Last five matches)
ATK: L L L W L
Bengaluru FC: W W L W W