It is one of the most anticipated games in the Indian Super League this season.

After a lot of anticipation, the Kolkata Derby will finally grace the Indian Super League (ISL), when ATK Mohun Bagan take on SC East Bengal on Friday. It is the biggest game in not only India, but arguably in Asia, with a lot at stake.

The game will also be the ISL debut for East Bengal, who usher in a new era under head coach Robbie Fowler. But, facing a championship-quality side like ATKMB, they’ll have to produce something truly special to win the first Kolkata Derby in the ISL. Tensions will soar, players will not back down from the fight and the millions of fans – unfortunately having to tune in from their TVs – will hope their spirits can rejuvenate the players into earning them the bragging rights.

The Stakes

East Bengal will look to make a wonderful start to their ISL journey. Despite their late entry into the competition and lack of a proper pre-season, the Red and Gold Brigade have enough talent in their arsenal to turn over their artch-rivals.

WATCH: Robbie Fowler’s pre-match press conference

Robbie Fowler will want to impress the fans with some entertaining, attacking football and prove why his philosophy will succeed in the ISL. With almost the entirety of East Bengal’s side being completely different from last season, the players will be determined to produce an emphatic performance and impress the fans.

WATCH: Antonio Habas’ pre-match press conference

Whenever it comes to a Kolkata Derby, the stakes are always high. With both sides currently looking to assert their authority in the league, it’ll be even more important for either one to come out with an emphatic result on Friday. The Mariners, for one, might’ve won their opening game of the season, but were nowhere near their best.

They’ll need to be more motivated and look to produce better, more exciting football to give a bitter welcome to their foes. A win can help ATKMB stay at the top of the table and also give them enough confidence to maintain the winning momentum in the games ahead.

Team News

East Bengal don’t have any injury problems, but a few of their players do have fitness issues. CK Vineeth hasn’t trained much with the team and could miss the game.

The Mariners faced a big blow against Kerala Blasters, when Michael Soosairaj suffered a nasty knee injury. The winger is expected to miss the entirety of the ISL campaign, so Subhasish Bose should get his first start for ATKMB on Friday.

Head-to-Head

WATCH: Mohun Bagan emerged victorious in the previous Kolkata Derby against East Bengal

This is the first time that ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal will battle in a Kolkata Derby in the ISL. However, in the past, the Mariners and the Red and Gold Brigade have clashed many times in some memorable battles.

Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have faced each other 370 times since the first Kolkata Derby in 1921! Out of these, the Red and Gold Brigade have won 129 matches, with the Green and Maroons winning 120 games. The remaining games have been stalemates – something neither would want on Friday.

Probable Lineups

SC East Bengal: Debjit, Fox, Gurtej, Neville, Irshad, Steinmann, Lyngdoh, Das, Maghoma, Pilkington, Jeje.

ATK Mohun Bagan: Arindam, Jhingan, Tiri, Kotal, Prabir, Pronay, McHugh, Bose, Hernandez, Williams, Krishna.

ALSO READ: A note to self: Preparing for a Kolkata Derby without fans

Man to Watch

Jacques Maghoma (SC East Bengal)

The former Birmingham City attacking midfielder will be the powerhouse that fuels the fire in SC East Bengal’s attack and will be pivotal for their success this season. Maghoma possesses an excellent work-rate in being almost everywhere in attack and he’s quite the creative star as well.

He’ll be key to unlocking ATKMB’s defence with his defence-splitting passes, linking up perfectly with his fellow attackers and be a real menace with his clever movement. Maghoma’s also a clinical finisher with an eye for goal. So, he’ll be aiming for an emphatic derby where the 33-year-old helps his side run rings around the Mariners’ backline.

Roy Krishna (ATK Mohun Bagan)

WATCH: All goals and assists by Roy Krishna in 2019-20 season

Even when ATKMB looked to be lacking match sharpness against Kerala Blasters, Krishna got the job done. The Fijian loves to shine on the biggest occasions and this is the biggest game he’ll play since arriving in India. Krishna will look to destabilize East Bengal’s backline with his foxy movement in the final third and orchestrate all the trouble in attack.

He will need some service from his teammates, but Krishna will be alert to latch onto any mistakes and dispatch his chances perfectly. The Mariners will need some moments of magic to win the derby and a ruthless goalscorer like Krishna is exactly the game-changer they’ll be relying on to give them the taste of victory.

Did You Know?

  • This is the first Kolkata Derby to take place outside Kolkata in over three years. The last was a 2-2 draw in the Calcutta Football League held in Siliguri in 2017.
  • Debjit Majumder was part of Mohun Bagan’s I-League title-winning squad last season and also won the ISL title with ATK in 2016.
  • None of the foreign players in either team have ever featured in a Kolkata Derby.

Telecast

The match between SC East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan is set to be telecast live on Star Sports 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 2 SD & HD (English), Star Sports Hindi 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 3 and several other regional languages. Live streaming of the match will be available on Hotstar and Jio TV.

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