Talking Point: Can ATK Mohun Bagan exploit Hyderabad’s shortcoming in attack?

ATK Mohun Bagan will be looking to avoid successive defeats in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 when they face Hyderabad FC at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday. The Kolkata giants came out on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline in their last outing and will be eager to make amends by returning to winning ways. Hyderabad FC, on the other hand, will be confident in their ability of getting something from the game as they look to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. Here, we look at some of the key factors that could decide who comes out on top.

A clash between two resolute defences

Friday’s clash between the teams will pit two solid defences against each other. Hyderabad have conceded just one goal in three games so far and they seem to have a great shape about them when without possession, which has helped them stop quick counters. Of the 17 shots that they have faced so far, only five have been on target. The Mariners, on the other hand, conceded their first goals of the season in their last game against Jamshedpur FC. However, they are yet to concede from open play since both goals last time around were let in from set-piece situations. Their three-man defence of Tiri, Sandesh Jhingan and Pritam Kotal have been solid at the back for the most part and will be hoping to register a clean sheet against a Hyderabad side that isn’t the most incisive attacking unit.

Overreliance on frontmen

Solid defences isn’t the only similarity between the teams. Up the other end of the pitch, both sides seem to be a bit over-dependent on their talismanic forwards. Roy Krishna has scored four of ATK Mohun Bagan’s five goals so far, while Aridane Santana has netted both of Hyderabad’s strikes this season. Aridane, in fact, looks like the only player capable of scoring for Hyderabad at the moment and has taken seven shots from inside the box. The Spaniard will need more support up front as the season wears on just like Krishna will from ATK Mohun Bagan’s other attacking talents. The Fijian striker became the first player to score in four successive games this season in the Mariners’ last outing and he has been responsible for 30% of the total shots taken by his team. Krishna netted thrice against Hyderabad last season and will undoubtedly be his side’s biggest threat against the Telangana-based outfit.

A battle for midfield supremacy

The team that wins the midfield battle could well emerge as victors and you can rest assured that it’ll be a competitive contest at the centre of the park with two tough tacklers going toe-to-toe. ATK Mohun Bagan’s Carl McHugh has attempted 30 tackles – second most by a player this season – and 10 of those have been successful. McHugh has also made 11 clearances, which is the second most by a midfielder this season. A threat from set-pieces as well, the Irishman has attempted six shots – the second most by an ATK Mohun player. Hyderabad’s Joao Victor, meanwhile, is set to be McHugh’s nemesis in midfield. He has attempted eight tackles so far and has been successful with seven of them, the most by a Hyderabad player. His incredible tackle success rate of 87.5% tells its own story, while his clearances made (9) and attempted passes (112) are the most by a player from Hyderabad. He’s also won 67% of his aerial duels.

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