ATK's unbeaten home-run at risk against holders Bengaluru FC
They have been in tremendous form but maintaining their unbeaten run at home will not be easy when former champions ATK face defending champions...
Kolkata : They have been in tremendous form but maintaining their unbeaten run at home will not be easy when former champions ATK face defending champions Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League match here on Wednesday.
The Kolkata franchise has scored the most goals -- 10 -- at the Saltlake Stadium and their defence too has been at their resolute best but their record will be put to test against Carles Cuadrat's Bengaluru FC who are unbeaten away this season.
Third-placed ATK who are a point behind the Blues (16 points) are smarting after a loss to FC Goa and a disappointing 2-2 draw against bottom-placed Hyderabad FC.
Terming Bengaluru FC, as the best team of the season, coach Antonio Habas said, "For us it's a very important match. We can know our level by playing against last season's champions. It's very important for me and my players."
Roy Krishna is ATK's primary weapon up front with eight goals to his name -- five of them coming in their last four outings.
With the likes of David Williams, Javi Hernandez, Mandi Sosa and Edu Garcia in the line-up, Krishna will be confident of getting good support. Head to head, Bengaluru have a great record having won all four games.
In fact, ATK have scored just one goal past Bengaluru in those matches. Bengaluru's defence has been exemplary this season as well, having conceded just five goals in nine matches.
The battle between a free-scoring ATK attack and a tight Bengaluru defence will determine the course of the match.
In many ways, Bengaluru's defence has been the saving grace for their struggling attack. Though they have scored just 11 goals in the ISL this season (fifth fewest), Bengaluru have the third-best goal difference in the league (+6).
Apart from Sunil Chhetri, rest of the attackers have flattered to deceive, and Bengaluru have seen their output upfront decline from the previous seasons.
Despite featuring pacy wingers in Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan, Bengaluru have struggled to convert crosses. From100 crosses, they have scored just one goal.
Bengaluru are placed second on the table (16 points) and Cuadrat will count on his team's tactical discipline to pull them through against an incisive ATK side and regain the top spot. "Of course, we have a plan for the game.
"We'll try to get them under control. They have two very natural forward players (Krishna and Williams). I think it's very clever from ATK to bring players who are playing together," Cuadrat said.
For Cuadrat, it's about the celebrations this festive season. "I hope it's a special day as it's Christmas day and we hope to give a present to all the football fans in India (with a win)," he said.