Bengaluru FC remain in the hunt for the playoff spots but will a stern test on their visit to Kolkata as they prepare to take on ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero Indian Super League encounter at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.
Bengaluru have been on a wonderful run of form and have stitched together four consecutive wins to climb to the seventh place in the standings. They will be desperate to keep that run going and remain in the bid for the top four spots. Meanwhile, ATK Mohun Bagan have a five-point lead over Simon Grayson’s men in fourth place. They have struggled with inconsistency in the last five matches and will be looking to register consecutive victories for the first time in a while.
What will work in the Mariners’ favour is the fact that they are unbeaten against Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League and have a splendid head to head record against them. If they managed to pick up their seventh win over Bengaluru in this contest, they will be able to move to third place in the standings.
Entering the final five league matches of the season, Juan Ferrando’s side will be desperate to pick up as many positive results as possible and avoid making sloppy errors. If they manage to go on a strong run of form, not only will it erase any doubts regarding their playoff hopes but also help them achieve momentum and confidence during the knockout fixtures of the ISL 2022/23 in March.
While a draw in this fixture wouldn’t be a major disaster, it would crash their hopes for a top three spot in the table. Meanwhile, a loss could prove to be catastrophic for the Mariners. It will see them just two points above Bengaluru in the table and FC Goa and Odisha FC also remain in the hunt to overtake them and take their top four spot.
Inconsistency has been a big hindering factor for Ferrando’s side in recent matches. Of their last six games, they have won twice, lost twice and drawn twice. They are arriving into this game on the back of a 2-0 victory over Odisha FC in their last game.
Dimitri Petratos scored in each half to grab a brace and put the game to bed for the Mariners. The Australian striker managed to take his season’s goal tally to seven following the display against Odisha. He also has six assists to his name. More importantly, Petratos is familiar with breaching the Bengaluru FC backline and he had found the back of the net in the 1-0 win in the reverse fixture between the two sides that was played earlier this season.
However, not everything was positive from ATK Mohun Bagan’s display against Odisha. Ashique Kuruniyan saw his marching orders in the closing stages of the game and he will be suspended from this particular fixture on home soil against his former side.
“This match is very important because we are playing at home. Bengaluru FC’s performance has improved over the last few matches. I know it is important for them to get into the playoffs but we are confident and our target is to get three points”, said head coach Juan Ferrando.
“After the match against Odisha FC, we knew we would be without two players for the next game and in the last four days, we planned accordingly,” he added.
Bengaluru FC have successfully managed to turn their season around. In December, they were struggling massively and it seemed like they would not be anywhere close to the top six in the table and instead, would be relegated to the bottom half of the standings.
However, those fears and apprehensions have been dismissed as Bengaluru are not only close to the top six, but have also gotten involved in the mix for the playoff spots. Arriving into this game on the back of a wonderful four-match winning run, Simon Grayson’s men have the opportunity to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season by picking up their first win over ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League.
They will also be desperate to take advantage of the fact that Odisha FC and Chennaiyin FC had to share spoils between each other. They now have the chance to go two points clear of Odisha FC and out of reach of Chennaiyin FC.
With that being said, they will be well aware of the fact that they are going to face arguably their toughest challenge of the season on their trip to Kolkata. Bengaluru have never beaten ATK Mohun Bagan before and the Mariners are extremely strong and formidable on home turf. With their final three league games being against Kerala Blasters, Mumbai City and FC Goa, a win is important for the players to get the confidence needed to finish their season strongly.
Bengaluru secured a 3-1 win over Chennaiyin in their last ISL encounter. Sivasakthi Narayanan, who has been a major revelation this season, scored a brace of goals while Rohit Kumar rounded off the score line in the first half hour of the contest. Although the Marina Machans pulled one back through Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, it wasn’t enough.
Sivasakthi has managed to relegate the legendary Sunil Chhetri to the bench and has cemented his spot in the starting XI for Simon Grayson’s side. The 21-year-old has scored four and registered one assist in the four games so far and looks menacing alongside Roy Krishna. Krishna himself has scored two goals and assisted one in the last three games.
“We are coming into this game with confidence after winning the last four games. I believe that records are there to be broken, so why not get our first win in Kolkata? We are very respectful of the opposition and they are in a good position in the league,” said head coach Simon Grayson.
“I’m sure Juan and his team will be well aware of how well we can play and the threats we pose. It will be two good teams going head-to-head at the business end of the season,” he added.
ATKMB vs BFC, Indian Super League 2022/23
Date: 5th February, 2023
Time: 7:30 PM IST
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
ATK Mohun Bagan Indian Super League form:
Bengaluru FC Indian Super League form:
ATK Mohun Bagan wins: 4
Bengaluru FC wins: 0
ATK Mohun Bagan Team News:
Juan Ferrando will have to make do with a lot of absentees for this game. Deepak Tangri has suffered a major injury which is set to keep him out for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, reliable defender Florentin Pogba is also no longer available along with their midfield maestro Joni Kauko.
Ashique Kuruniyan picked up a red card in the stoppage time of the second half against Odisha FC and he will miss the clash with his former side while Hugo Boumous is also suspended for this fixture.
Bengaluru FC Team News:
Bengaluru FC have a fully fit squad and don’t have to contend with injuries. However, Danish Farooq has joined Kerala Blasters and his services will no longer be available.
ATK Mohun Bagan possible starting lineup:
Vishal Kaith (GK); Asish Rai, Pritam Kotal, Brendan Hamill, Subhasish Bose; Glan Martins, Carl McHugh; Manvir Singh, Federico Gallego, Liston Colaco; Dimitri Petratos
Bengaluru FC possible starting lineup:
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Alan Costa, Sandesh Jhingan, Parag Shrivas; Prabir Das, Suresh Singh, Javi Hernandez, Rohit Kumar, Naorem Roshan Singh; Roy Krishna, Sivasakthi Narayanan
This could be a difficult result to predict. While ATK Mohun Bagan have the historical advantage over Bengaluru FC and are dominant on home soil, they are missing a number of key players due to injury or suspension. They have also been inconsistent and have made quite a few sloppy errors.
On the other hand, Bengaluru FC are flying high and have their eyes set on picking up their fifth consecutive win. They also have a fully fit squad at their disposal and although the head to head record may paint them as the underdogs, in reality, they have enough means and resources to get the job done and secure a statement win over the Mariners.