Both of the sides are currently tied at the top of the table.
East Bengal took on their eternal rivals Mohun Bagan in the ninth round of fixtures in the Calcutta Football League at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday. The Red and Gold made three changes in the team, bringing in Costa Rican World Cup participant Johhny Acosta in place of Kingshuk Debnath, Kamalpreet Singh replaced Lalrindika Ralte and Laldanmawia Ralte filled in for Sarabuddin Mallick. The Mariners fielded an unchanged lineup from their last game.
In what will easily be remembered as a Derby for the ages, Mohun Bagan took a two-goal lead thanks to goals from Pintu Mahata and Henry Kisekka, but East Bengal hit back with strikes from Acosta and Laldanmawia Ralte. With both teams level on points, the title will be decided on who manages to trump the other over the next three fixtures. The high-voltage Derby ended in stalemate, in what can be deemed as a fair result for both the outfits.
In this article, we are going to analyze the five talking points observed in this enthralling Kolkata Derby:
5. Both teams need to work on their respective backlines
Ahead of the I-League, both the sides need to improve on their defenses. The Quess-owned outfit conceded two cheap goals today and so did Bagan, with Mehtab Singh largely to be blamed for the former and goalkeeper Shilton Paul at fault for the latter.
Moreover, Acosta needs time to integrate into the team, while Sankarlal Chakraborty has his work cut out with his goalkeeper and central defensive partnership.
4. Lalrindika Ralte needs to start every match
East Bengal have three more matches to play after this and they are all must-win games. Both the clubs have the same number of points and even the same goal-difference, so it will be a race down to the wire.
For the Red and Gold to make it nine out of nine, it is mandatory that they start Lalrandika Ralte in every game from now till the end of the CFL season. He was electric after coming on in place of Kamalpreet, setting up Laldanmawia’s goal and heavily tilting the balance of play in East Bengal’s favor.
3. Arijit Bagui is one for the future
Arijit Bagui has been sensational in the right-back position for Mohun Bagan throughout the competition and he justified the hype around him once again. The boy from Medinipur put in a real shift at the back and also had a key role in setting up both the goals for the Mariners, thanks to his wonderful crossing.
Although, he was largely restrained in the second half due to the fact that East Bengal played with a lot more vigor, he still managed to standout. Watch out for him to make more headlines in the future.
2. Kamalpreet Singh should not be forced to play at the base of EB’s midfield
It is not usual to see a right-back play as a central defensive midfielder for weeks on end, but that is exactly how it has panned out with Kamalpreet Singh and East Bengal. He has been used in an unfamiliar position for far too long and the Red and Golds finally had to pay the price for the same.
He was at the heart of an unimaginative, rigid and at most times, static East Bengal midfield which was completely overrun in the first half by the Mariners.
1. East Bengal got it wrong with the back three
East Bengal started out with a four at the back that had Acosta and Mehtab Singh at its heart. However, for the opening stages, Kamalpreet Singh dropped in alongside the aforementioned central defenders to form a three at the back.
Samad Ali Mallick and Lalramchullova acted as wing-backs and it did not pan out well as the Red and Gold were caught out on numerous occasions. Ultimately, they also ended up conceding the opening goal after Pintu Mahata found himself in acres of space inside the East Bengal box.