Talking Point: Can ATK Mohun Bagan remain clinical in front of goal?

ATK Mohun Bagan have been among the most compact teams this season, with three goals in two games in addition to their two clean sheets. The Mariners will look to continue this run against Odisha FC in their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 match at the Fatorda Stadium on Thursday. Ahead of the encounter, let’s take a look at some of the factors that could have a huge bearing on the outcome.

ATK Mohun Bagan do make the most of their chances

ATK Mohun Bagan haven’t fared satisfactorily this season in terms of their passing and possession play. However, despite that they have managed to score three goals in two matches, and all from open play. So, it’s clear what head coach Antonio Lopez Habas has in mind. Habas employed a similar counter-attacking approach during his title-winning campaign with ATK FC last season and by the look of it, he is going to stick to it with his new team. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, appears to be Habas’ mantra.

Experienced defence setting the tone for ATK Mohun Bagan

Habas’ new-look defence of Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal and Tiri is key to their performance in their two matches so far. The three of them have 229 Hero ISL appearances in all, and the presence of Carl McHugh (20 tackles in two games, highest in terms of average for any player) has aided them further in keeping back-to-back shutouts. Kotal has had most touches (97) for ATK Mohun Bagan while Tiri has made most clearances (28) so far. Another defender Prabir Das has made seven interceptions so far. The presence of these really talented defenders makes ATK Mohun Bagan a formidable defensive unit and it will take some doing on the part of Odisha to get the better of them.

Mauricio a better option than Onwu?

Fans of the Bhubaneswar-based club were excited at the prospect of Marcelo Pereira as their new creative spark ahead of the season but the Brazilian has flattered to deceive in two starts for the club. His countryman Diego Mauricio, however, has been a livewire for the side as he came off the bench to score two goals and ensure a point against Jamshedpur FC. Manuel Onwu was their first-choice forward in the last game but the Spaniard couldn’t really live up to expectations. So, it will be interesting to see if Odisha head coach Stuart Baxter prefers Mauricio ahead of Onwu, a conundrum he himself has admitted to facing in the pre-match press conference. In light of Marcelo’s huge experience in the Hero ISL, it’s unlikely that he won’t feature in the starting XI as form is temporary and class is permanent.

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