SC East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan meet for the first time this season on November 27.

Last season, ATK Mohun Bagan triumphed over SC East Bengal with the scoreline reading 2-1 and 3-1 respectively after two league meetings. SCEB have since parted ways with Fowler and brought in the experienced Manolo Diaz to stabilise things at the Red and Gold. The match on November 27 will be Diaz’s first taste of the Kolkata Derby.

Both teams have played their first fixtures of the season. ATK Mohun Bagan ran riot in their 4-2 win against Kerala Blasters in the season opener. The likes of Hugo Boumous and Roy Krishna were at the top of their game that night. On the other hand, Diaz’s debut as SC East Bengal head coach ended in a draw against Jamshedpur FC. The lack of creativity and fluidity in midfield was a glaring problem for East Bengal. This issue will need to be resolved, if they want to register their first win of the season in the Kolkata Derby.

SC East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan teams have a number of talented professionals playing for them. So, you will find a number of battles taking shape as the game progresses. Be it a defender against a forward, or two midfielders at loggerheads, these individual key-battles are what make the sport so entertaining. We bring you three key battles to keep an eye on in the Kolkata Derby.

3. Franjo Prce Vs Roy Krishna

Franjo Prce
Franjo Prce scored SC East Bengal’s goal in the 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Krishna started off from where he left last season with a goal in the opening match of ISL 2021-22. He scored 14 goals last campaign and assisted on eight occasions, enough to win him the Player of the League award. In the manner he’s started, Krishna could very well retain the title this season. His movement, both on and off the ball, the feigns to beat defenders and shot efficiency makes the Fijian one of the most ruthless striker in the ISL. In the two seasons he’s been here, Krishna has scored in double figures. He also scored in both the Kolkata Derbies last term. Krishna’s camaraderie with Hugo Boumous and the telepathic understanding they have developed makes him more lethal.

Stopping the ATK Mohun Bagan striker will be SC East Bengal centre-back Franjo Prce. A defender by nature, Prce showed he has goals in him with a wonderful back volley to put the Red and Golds ahead against Jamshedpur. He was also their best player at the back. Prce made seven clearances, three interceptions and won each of his duels against Jamshedpur’s striker Nerijus Valskis. He has pace and the experience to counter Krishna and would want to keep the striker at bay. Just how much he can nullify Krishna could decide the match for SC East Bengal.

2. Antonio Perosevic Vs Lenny Rodrigues

Lenny Rodrigues
Lenny Rodrigues will guard the midfield for ATK Mohun Bagan (Courtesy: ATKMB Media)

Lenny struggled at times against the midfield of Adrian Luna, Jaeakson Singh and Sahal Abdul Samad in the opening game. But, his calm presence and experience at the heart of midfield is crucial to Antonio Habas’ gameplay. He would want to stop the marauding runs of Antonio Perosevic before they take shape in the Kolkata Derby. Since joining ATK Mohun Bagan from FC Goa in January, the 34-year-old has become a vital cog in Habas’ setup.

Perosevic showed what he is capable of in the first half against Jamshedpur FC, where his dazzling runs left the Jamshedpur midfield and defence out of place. Although he fizzled out in the second half, Perosevic can be a threat for ATK Mohun Bagan. He assisted Prce in the first game and also created three chances, most for SC East Bengal. Perosevic also completed two of his three dribbles. Lenny has no pace to counter the Croatian attacker, but his experience would come handy.

1. Md. Rafiq Vs Liston Colaco

Liston Colaco
Liston Colaco scored a wonder goal against Kerala Blasters (Courtesy: ISL Media)

A man for all positions, Rafiq did well at right-back against Boris Singh in the SC East Bengal Vs Jamshedpur FC match. But, when Komal Thatal replaced Boris, Rafiq was exposed on multiple occasions by Thatal’s pace. On Saturday, the 30-year-old will be up against Liston Colaco, who wreaked havoc against Harmanjot Khabra in the opening game. To top that, Colaco also scored a wonder goal after being offered a little space by Khabra.

With his pace and dribbling ability, Colaco could leave Rafiq chasing crooked shadows in a one-on-one situation. However, Rafiq has experience by his side and has never backed away from challenges. If thrust in this role, he would back himself to come up good against the young and agile Colaco.

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