Hero ISL 2022-23: A detailed look at ATK Mohun Bagan
ATK Mohun Bagan have qualified for the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs for a third season running, despite not being at their best. The Mariners have registered a tally of 34 points this campaign, which is their lowest compared to the previous two seasons, where they missed out on the League Winners' Shield and the Hero ISL title by the finest margins.
Plagued by injury issues and inconsistency, ATK Mohun Bagan have struggled for form. In their last 15 games, they have only scored 12 goals. And before winning their last two league games, they had registered just two wins across nine games. However, they have made it to the knockout stages once again thanks to an excellent start to the season and their strong defensive line, which has been the core strength of the side.
ATK Mohun Bagan will face Odisha FC in a knockout playoff fixture at home, with the winner taking on Hyderabad FC in the semi-finals.
Key stats in Hero ISL 2022-23
Matches: 20, Wins: 10, Draws: 4, Losses: 6, Goals Scored: 24, Goals Conceded: 17, Points: 34
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando is in his third season in India, having previously managed FC Goa and is clear with the way he wants to play. Ferrando places a lot of importance on building up play from the back, keeping possession of the ball, controlling the spaces, making quick transitions and ensuring there is fluidity in attack.
The full-backs are given the freedom to advance and provide support for the wingers. Depending on the situation, the wingers can move out wide or make incisive runs inside. Ferrando does not prefer an out-and-out striker and wants his forwards to be more flexible.
The Spaniard has experimented with several formations this season as a result of recurring injuries and suspensions that have forced him to tweak his system multiple times. Ferrando has also preferred a three-at-the-back formation this season but has mostly opted for a back four, going with the 4-2-3-1 formation (nine times) and the 4-3-3 formation (six times).
ATK Mohun Bagan boast one of the stingiest defences in the league. They have registered nine clean sheets which are bettered only by Hyderabad FC and have conceded the second-fewest goals this season.
They may have parted ways with Amrinder Singh, but in Vishal Kaith, they have found a reliable figure between the sticks, with the latter leading the charts for the most clean sheets among keepers (9).
Asish Rai, Pritam Kotal, Brendan Hamill and Subhasish Bose have been a regular part of the playing eleven, playing with a low-block defence. The backline’s ability to maintain their shape and mark with efficiency during set-pieces have made it difficult for opposition teams to break ATKMB down. Since the start of the season, the Mariners have only shipped four goals from set-pieces.
Erik Paartalu's analysis: The back four and the keeper have been their strength. Name a better backline that has played consistently together week in week out - Rai, Kotal, Hamill and Bose. It's formidable, it's experienced and they know how to play the game.
Defensively they have been super tight and with the second-best defensive record, that is what they are basing their game around now. Being stubborn and clean at the back and taking a chance or two and seeing games out.
When it comes to transitions, ATK Mohun Bagan have been efficient in both attack and defence. They have scored the highest number of goals (12) from defence to attack. They have also conceded just four goals from counter-attacks.
The reason why they have succeeded in this aspect can be credited to their strategy of playing with a low-block defence. The defensive line maintains its shape and tries to win back possession while the midfielders try to press the opposition in tight spaces and move the ball quickly to the attackers.
Carl McHugh has been a key figure for the Mariners during transitions with his ability to win the ball back in tight spaces and recycle possession in the No 6 role.
Erik Paartalu's analysis: McHugh’s stability in the middle of the park has kept opportunities for the other sides at a minimum. He’s also popped up with important goals. Expect a battle for Juan Ferrando to choose McHugh or Federico Gallego for that position.
Missing a proper No. 9: Despite their attack consisting of some star-studded names, ATK Mohun Bagan have struggled to score goals. Having parted ways with David Williams and Roy Krishna ahead of the season, the Mariners have not signed a typical No 9. Ferrando has persisted with Dimitri Petratos in that position despite the fact that the Australian has played as an attacking or wide midfielder for the majority of his career.
Although Petratos has scored nine goals this season, ATKMB have not managed to score enough goals despite having the likes of Liston Colaco, Ashique Kuruniyan, Manvir Singh and Hugo Boumous in their ranks.
Only East Bengal FC, Jamshedpur FC, and NorthEast United FC, teams at the bottom three positions in the Hero ISL standings, have scored fewer goals than Ferrando’s side.
Paul Masefield's analysis: They are lacking an out-an-out talisman. Someone to get into the box and someone who is going to score 15 goals a season. That’s the biggest problem I see, coupled with the fact that they have had injury problems and inconsistent form throughout the season that hasn’t helped their cause.
Injuries and lack of bench strength: ATK Mohun Bagan’s season has been ravaged by injuries, losing out key players such as Joni Kauko, Tiri and Florentin Pogba. Manvir and Boumous also missed part of their campaign while Deepak Tangri was also ruled out for the season after picking up an injury in January. Carl McHugh has also been forced to miss a couple of games.
Ferrando has struggled to find players who could impact the game off the bench. ATK Mohun Bagan’s bench consists of young players such as Kiyan Nassiri, Mohammad Fardin, goalkeeper Arsh Shaikh, Engson Singh, Abhishek Suryavanshi, and Ricky Shabong, who still need to develop their game.
Phil Brown's analysis: Their second string side. When they replace Petratos or Boumous upfront, does their bench give a chance to win them a game of football? Or even when Manvir or Ashique are being replaced, the second-string side could be the weakness.
Performance of young Indian players:
Rai is one youngster that has shone brightly for ATK Mohun Bagan this season. Into his debut season with the Mariners, the full-back has been effective at both ends of the pitch. Rai has featured in all of ATKMB’s games this season, recording one assist and 85 tackles alongside a league-high tally of 44 interceptions.
Players to watch out for:
With the most assists (33) in Hero ISL history, Boumous has been one of the standout creative players in the league for the past few seasons. Boumous has plied his trade with three different Hero ISL clubs including FC Goa and Mumbai City FC and has been a peripheral figure for whichever side he has played for. His ability to take on players, unlock defences with his vision, and score goals makes it hard for defenders to keep him quiet.
Boumous’ season may have been hampered by injuries, but the midfielder has contributed four goals and as many assists. He also has the second-most goal contributions for ATKMB this campaign, only behind Petratos.
Paul Masefield's analysis: If he turns it on, there is no one better in the league. There isn’t. He is absolutely fantastic. The way he glides past players, the way he drops into holes to pick up the ball, he can pick out passes and score goals as well. He is definitely the one to watch.
Records and unique stats
- ATKMB’s six defeats this season are the most they have faced in a single Hero ISL season.
- They have scored fewer than 30 goals for the first time in a single Hero ISL season.
- Only team to qualify in all three seasons since they joined the league in 2020-21.
- They have now won 10 or more matches in the league stage in each of their Hero ISL seasons.
- ATKMB have scored the joint-fewest set-piece goals this season (6).
- The Mariners have scored 16 of their 24 goals in the second half this season (66.67%)
- One of the only teams to score fewer than 10 first-half goals this season (8)
- Petratos has scored nine goals this season. Krishna is the only player (2020-21) to have scored more Hero ISL goals in a single season than Petratos for ATKMB.
- Petratos has also assisted seven goals so far. He is one assist away from equalling Krishna’s assist record for the club from the 2020-21 season.
- Petratos has attempted more shots than any other player in Hero ISL 22-23 (60)
- ATKMB have created the second-most chances by a team this season (219)
Predicted starting XI vs Odisha FC: Vishal Kaith (GK), Asish Rai, Pritam Kotal (C), Carl McHugh, Subhasish Bose, Federico Gallego, Glan Martins, Hugo Boumous, Ashique Kuruniyan, Manvir Singh and Dimitri Petratos.