Odisha’s last stand complicates ATK’s path to the top
Odisha FC make a short trip up north to face ATK FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday. ATK need a win to go back to the top of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 table, while Odisha require the three points to stay in touching distance of the top four heading into their final two games of the league phase. With contrasting ambitions set to collide, fans can expect an entertaining contest on Saturday.
Engaged in a tight three-way race for the top spot, it'll be paramount ATK don't put their foot off the gas and will go all out to get the three points on Saturday. Playing at home, Antonio Lopez Habas' men will back themselves to pick up all three points, especially considering the scintillating form they have been in Kolkata. ATK have taken 16 points from their 7 home matches so far this season.
Roy Krishna grabbing a brace in their 3-0 win against Jamshedpur in their last match and thereby ending his mini goal drought of sorts will come as a huge boost for the Kolkata-based side heading into the contest. With David Williams fit again and Edu Garcia seemingly having found his form, ATK will have a wealth of attacking options to dip into in order to find them the goals.
The defence has been in exquisite touch as well, with the side managing a joint league high nine clean sheets in their 15 outings so far. The likes of Pritam Kotal and Sumit Rathi have proved to be a tough wall to breach for opponents this season and will pose a big test for the Odisha attack.
Odisha, too, will be looking to get the three points, which will bring them within two points of fourth placed Mumbai City FC. Having lost their last match against FC Goa, their qualification to the semi-final stage is no longer in Odisha's hands as they will need the likes of Mumbai and Chennaiyin FC to drop points to aid their cause. However, Josep Gombau's team will be desperate to win their remaining matches and give themselves the best chance possible.
Despite going down 4-2 to Goa in their last outing, Odisha showed great character. Even after going 3-0 down by half-time, the Bhubaneswar-based club managed to make it 3-2, courtesy two Manuel Onwu goals in the second half, before the Gaurs found their fourth goal late in the contest. Putting up the sort of fight they did against a formidable Goa side is commendable, especially with four first team regulars - Shubham Sarangi, Carlos Delgado, Marcos Tebar and Nandhakumar Sekar - missing due to suspensions and injuries. With all four slated to be back for Saturday's tie, Odisha will be looking to pose a stiff test for their Eastern rivals.
Striker Aridane Santana has been ruled out for the season with an injury but loan signing Onwu hit the ground running with a brace against Goa in his club debut. Odisha fans will hope the Spaniard can fire all cylinders again on Saturday, something the team will desperately need from him against a formidable ATK defence. Odisha, however, can look to exploit ATK’s weakness from crosses. Five of the ten goals the Kolkata-based side has conceded this season have been from crosses and Odisha have a good reputation when it comes to using that route to hurt opposition teams. They have scored nine goals from balls played into the box from out wide this season – a tally only bettered by Goa.
ATK FC: Arindam Bhattacharja (GK), Pritam Kotal, Victor Mongil, Sumit Rathi, Anas Edathodika, Prabir Das, Javier Hernandez, Armando Sosa Pena, David Williams, Jayesh Rane, Roy Krishna
Odisha FC: Francisco Dorronsoro (GK), Gaurav Bora, Shubham Sarangi, Narayan Das, Carlos Delgado, Nandhakumar Sekar, Vinit Rai, Xisco Hernandez, Marcos Tebar, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Manuel Onwu
Did you know?
- ATK will qualify for the semi-finals even if they draw the match.
- ATK have conceded just 4 goals at home (joint lowest along with Bengaluru).
- Odisha are yet to score from a through ball this season.
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 77: ATK FC vs Odisha FC
Date: February 8 (Saturday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV