Both the teams will be aiming for a win in what has been a pretty up and down season.
The Kolkata derby is right upon us! East Bengal and Mohun Bagan clash at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday not just for pride, but are in desperate need of a confidence-booster. Both sides have had underwhelming starts to the season and with things moving into overdrive, they need to hit top gear soon.
Watch: How is the Kolkata Derby a lifeline for Bengali People
Alejandro Menendez and Sankarlal Chakraborty’s sides look for glory at the expense of another’s despair as the biggest game of the Indian footballing calendar is guaranteed to be a real treat.
East Bengal are currently sixth in the I-League standings, having picked up nine points from six games. After losing three games on a trot, the win against Gokulam Kerala gave some momentum in the standings, as they are eight points behind leaders Chennai City, having played one game less.
Mohun Bagan are worse off than them, sitting at eight place with six points. However, the inferior goal difference of the Mariners means they are behind their city rivals. A win for either side can take them into the top four and help close down the ground to the league leaders.
Apart from Enrique’s knock, East Bengal has a fully fit squad
For East Bengal, new signing Jaime Santos is likely to feature after training with the side before the Derby. While there’s doubt about Spanish striker Toni Dovale’s involvement, Enrique Esqueda will also be a miss-and-go after suffering a knock in the game against Gokulam Kerala. Apart from Enrique’s knock, East Bengal has a fully fit squad.
The Mariners have a full squad
Mohun Bagan will mostly miss the services of defender Sukhdev Singh, who picked up a new injury recently in training. Pintu Mahata seems to have recovered from his knock against Chennai City earlier this month, while loanee Sheikh Faiaz could also make his first appearance of the season. Otherwise, The Mariners have a full squad.
Both teams have a lot on the line. East Bengal’s Alejandro Menendez will look to win over fans by winning his first Kolkata Derby and also reassert them into the title race. Sankarlal Chakraborty’s men also need a desperate win to climb their way back into contention and a derby win can give them the boost they need to maintain consistency. While a win for a side can help push them back into the title race, a loss could sink their hopes of challenging for the I-League this season.
Dagar, Chullova, Salam Ranjan, Borja, Manoj, Aidara, Lalrindika, Danmawia, Santos Brandon, Justin.
Paul, Bagui, Kingsley, Kim Kima, Ambekar, Das, Kinowaki, Faiaz, Omar, Norde, Kisekka.
Alejandro Menendez style has shown eagerness in moving through the wings, encouraging his wingers to cut in and try to score
East Bengal should operate with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Joby Justin being the lone striker and being supported by Bidyashagar Singh or Enrique if he makes the match. Alejandro Menendez style has shown eagerness in moving through the wings, encouraging his wingers to cut in and try to score. Lalrindika Ralte’s creativity in the middle helps stitch together attacks, while Kassim Aidara’s industrial nature helps East Bengal’s midfield.
Defensively Salam Ranjan and Borja often move wide to support their wing-backs and broaden their shape. Up front, Justin regularly moves to the channel and his cleverness allows him to get into dangerous positions. East Bengal also relies on their electric counter-attack flooring defenses, while their strength lies in set-pieces as well.
Bagan will rely on a fluid, passing game
Sankarlal Chakraborty has tried immersing a more possession-based football into Mohun Bagan this season, with the Mariners relying on a fluid, passing game. Their impressive ball-playing defenders try stitching attacks from the back, while much influence is from Sony Norde through the left. The Haitian creates many moves with his pace and dribbling ability, while Sourav Das and Kinowaki hold the fort in midfield.
Henry Kisekka’s physicality helps with the hold-up play and surging through defenses, while the creative Omar Elhusseiny tries distributing balls to the channels and sending his players free with clever balls through the defensive gaps.
Top Three Players To Watch Out For
East Bengal’s newest signing should make his much-awaited debut on quite the occasions, trying to make an impact in the Kolkata derby! Santos has played in the third division of Spanish Football and is known to be a creative attacking midfielder who can also operate as a winger.
He scored around 10 goals in the Segunda Division B, having played for Sporting Gijon B. Santos is a youngster brimming with talent and will look to use his pace and intelligence to outwit the Mariners defense.
Norde loves performing against East Bengal and will aim to give them nightmares
The Haitian winger is arguably Mohun Bagan’s best attacking option right now, creating all the chances through the left. Norde looks dangerous as ever having slowly reached his full fitness and has terrorized defenses with his trickery and pace.
Norde loves performing against East Bengal and will aim to give them nightmares with a great performance. Norde’s knack of scoring screamers and creating goals with his majestic ability is well known, and the Mariners will need him in top form to prevail on Sunday.
The highest Indian goalscorer in the I-League so far and also East Bengal’s top goal-scorer this season, Joby Justin seems a reinvigorated individual this time. He’s improved by leaps under Menendez’s system, which allows him the freedom to roam around in the final third and create chances.
Justin’s scored some clinical strikes so far, as well as creating quite a few. He’ll look to add to his tally by troubling the Mariners defense, as his predatorial instincts will be something which can highly benefit the Red and Gold Brigaders in the weekend.
The match will take place at Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on Sunday at 5 PM IST. It will be broadcasted live on Star Sports 3, while it’ll also be available for streaming on Hotstar and JioTV.