Talking Point: Can SC East Bengal score first-ever Hero ISL goal against defensively sound NorthEast?

NorthEast United FC will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 when they face SC East Bengal at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Saturday. While the Highlanders will fancy their chances of taking maximum points from the contest, SC East Bengal will be eager to get their first points of the campaign following an underwhelming start to the season that’s seen them lose both their first two games. Here, we look at some of the key factors that could decide which side comes out on top on Saturday.

SC East Bengal’s defensive concerns

Two games into their campaign, SC East Bengal find themselves in the uncomfortable position of being at the bottom of the standings with no points, no goals scored, and five goals conceded. Their defence has come under the scanner and will be under the spotlight against NorthEast with their skipper Daniel Fox an injury doubt. The most pressing concern in their backline, though, is their fullback areas. Having conceded from the wide areas in both games so far, teams are likely to exploit this weakness of theirs unless they address it soon. The lack of recognised fullbacks has already hurt the team and the Kolkata club must solve this problem area soon if they want a turnaround in fortunes.

NorthEast’s defence is proving difficult to penetrate

The Highlanders have looked like a very well organised side so far and that’s part of the reason behind their solid start to the season. The centre-back pairing Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox have been on top of their game, coming up with crucial blocks and important challenges whenever called upon. Lambot’s also a very good distributor of the ball and has made 43 forward passes –- second most by a NorthEast United player. Their experienced centre-backs aside, NorthEast skipper Lalengmawia has also contributed heavily to their defensive work. Only two players have made more than Lalengmawia’s nine interceptions this season and only Rowllin Borges has attempted more than his 13 tackles. His 17 recoveries are also the most by a NorthEast player and third highest among Indian midfielders.

Can SC East Bengal finally find the back of the net?

The only team yet to score a goal this season, it’s safe to say that breaching NorthEast’s defence and finding the back of the net is by no means a given for SC East Bengal on Saturday. They enjoy good possession of the ball and are capable of stringing together passes but a lack of end product is what has been hurting them. Their possession hasn’t translated into many shots on goal with just six shots on target to show for their efforts from their first two games. Of the six shots on target, five have come from outside the box. They have, in fact, struggled to penetrate the opposition box having managed just nine shots from inside the box – the second lowest by a team so far. Their head coach Robbie Fowler knows a thing or two about scoring goals and needs to pass on that information to his attackers soon if SC East Bengal want to kick-start their season.


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