East Bengal, Chennaiyin FC look to bounce back after inconsistent starts

East Bengal FC will be looking to pick themselves up after a disappointing result in the Kolkata Derby last week as they await their next challenge in the form of Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), in Kolkata, on Friday.

East Bengal may have lost the derby but did not allow arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan to dominate them throughout the game. Head Coach Stephen Constantine has been tinkering with the formation and tactics since the start of the season in an effort to find the strongest XI for his team, which has kept the team in the hunt in every game.

Cleiton Silva, who is just two goals away from becoming the joint-highest goal scorer for East Bengal in the Hero ISL, is expected to start up front against the Marina Machans. Defensive duo Ivan Gonzalez and Lalchungnunga have started every game so far and are unlikely to be dropped to the bench.

In the short history of this match-up, the Torch Bearers have never led in a match against the Marina Machans. Chennaiyin FC have always dealt the first blow. The two sides have faced each other four times and all four games have ended in a draw. Both sides have scored four goals each in those fixtures.

Both sides will have to step up their game in defence as they are two of four teams that are yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

“If we were playing badly and got dominated in the derby, I’d have been worried. But we did not get dominated by one of the best teams in Hero ISL. When a team formed just six weeks ago dominates a team like that, I think it is a very positive sign. We will try to give the best possible versions of ourselves and hopefully, that results in three points”, said Constantine. The Englishman said about Chennaiyin FC, “Anybody who comes to Kolkata and beats ATK Mohun Bagan deserves respect.”

Chennaiyin FC are coming into this fixture after an extended break. This will be their fourth game in the Hero ISL this season and the second at this venue. They visited the Salt Lake Stadium during Matchweek 1 when they came from behind to beat ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1.

Since then, they have picked up only a point in two games. Head Coach Thomas Brdaric has stuck to a traditional 4-4-2 formation so far this season. The only change to the starting line-up yet has been a force one during the last game when Devansh Dabas replaced the suspended Debjit Majumder in goal.

Majumder has served his suspension, and the Marina Machans are expected to revert to their first-choice line-up against East Bengal. The visitors have scored three goals so far this season. However, they have created 35 chances in the three games they have played, averaging 11.67 chances per match. The Marina Machans will have to be more clinical in the final-third if they want to take something away from this game.

“Football is very simple - if you cannot score, you cannot win. In the last match, we created a lot of good chances but ended up conceding silly goals. We analysed that aspect after the match and want to improve in our next game,” said Brdaric.

The German spoke about East Bengal FC and said, “East Bengal is an interesting team. Huge club in India. Playing against this team is a challenge. We’ll try to push all game and show our strengths. We are ready for the match on Friday.”

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