ATK Mohunbagan (ATKMB )and North- East United FC( NEUFC) lock horns in an enticing clash in the first leg of Semifinal 2 of the ISL. The Highlanders extended their unbeaten run to 10 games after beating Kerala Blasters FC. They secured the third spot in their last match and will be looking to continue their rich vein of form. They have been in a wonderful run of form under former East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil and have remained 10 matches unbeaten on the trot. Meanwhile, ATK Mohun Bagan will be looking to alleviate their disappointment of not winning the League Shield with a win against the Highlanders. They were denied the chance to play in the AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE next year after a mediocre show against Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai City FC.
Why you should watch the match
The match will be a Juicy one to watch with this being happening at the semifinals of the Hero ISL 2020-21. Already a big reason to watch this game. Apart from this, the meeting between these two sides has borne results in both the fixtures and is expected to occur the same again. ATKMB will look to topple the North East giants and play the final in their debut season after the merger of Mohun Bagan and ATK. On the other hand, NEUFC will definitely fancy their chances of entering into the final for the first time with a big advantageous win in the first leg.
The mariners come into the match on the back of a poor and shattering display against the table-toppers Mumbai City FC. They were lackluster in the defense in the first half and this allowed the Islanders to score two free headers from set-pieces. They were handed a 2-0 defeat by the Mumbai outfit and dented their chances of making it into the AFC champions league. Also against the penultimate match of their group stage against Hyderabad FC, they were a bit out of form and that seems to the main area of concern for Habas and his team.
The defence has not been performing well since then and because of the lacking of creativity in the midfield, the goals have also started to dry up. But it is a knockout match and ATKMB can’t afford to show any kind of deficiency in their play and need to come up with an excellent display.
Last 5 matches Form:- WWWDL
The Highlanders are playing this High voltage fixture after coming out on top against a potentially knockout match against Kerala Blasters. They snapped a 2-0 win from the Ishfaq Ahmed-coached team with VP Suhair and a wonder strike from Lalengmawia sealing the deal for the team. They have been high-flying this season after Khalid Jamil took over the team from the hands of Gerard Nus.
NEUFC has scored 18 goals from the 10 matches and most importantly has remained unbeaten in those assignments. It seems the attack has taken shape for them and also the defense has succeeded in stopping leaky goals throughout the match. They need to just handle the pressure of a knockout game, an area where Jamil needs to focus as his team has never played such a high-intensity clash. Especially with such a young side, he has to impart the learnings of keeping calm in these kinds of matches.
Last 5 matches Form:- DWDWW
Head to Head
The two sides have only met twice since the inception of the ATK MOHUN BAGAN side in the ISL. In the first match between the teams. ATKMB won 2-0 comfortably with Roy Krishna chipping in and Benjamin Lambot’s own goal completing the formalities. In the return fixture, the Highlanders took sweet revenge as they snatched a 2-1 win over the Kolkata-based Franchise. Federico Gallego starred in that match with a goal and an assist. The other goal was scored by Luis Machado and the North East side pocketed the match. Till now it’s even Stevens between the sides.
Antonio Lopez Habas will be boosted by the return of Subhasis Bose in the left-back. It will help them to end their defensive woes. For a side that has the title of considering the least goals this season. It’s been quite disappointing to see their defense perform so awfully. There is a little bit of concern about Sandesh Jhingan playing in the match as he picked up an injury in the last encounter Vs Mumbai. As of now, no other injuries are there on the team.
GK- Arindam Bhattacharya;
Defence- Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan,Joshua Tiri, Subhasis Bose
CDM- Carl McHugh, Lenny Rodrigues
Attackers- Manvir Singh, Marcelo Leite Pereira, David Williams
Forward- Roy Krishna
Khalid Jamil’s side has no injury concerns and suspensions going into the semi-finals. Deshorn Brown will play as the primary striker with support from Luis Machado. Federico Gallego is expected to take the pitch in the latter part of the game.
Defence- Chowdhury; Nim Dorjee, Benjamin Lambot Dylan Fox
Midfield – Provat Lakra Lalengmawia, Khassa Camara, Imran Khan, VP Suhair
Deshorn Brown Luis Machado.
Players to watch out for
1) Roy Krishna
The Fijian talismanic striker has been in red hot form this season and has been involved in 18 of ATKMB’S 28 goals. He has been sublime upfront and has delivered ATKMB with the goals when they needed the most from him. He has found the back of the net 14 times from 20 assignments and has also given 4 assists. It is of no wonder that Habas will want Roy Krishna to be on the top of his form to snatch a win against NEUFC.
2) Carl McHugh
The Englishman has been a pillar of the ATKMB’S Midfield in this Hero ISL 2020-21. He has always ensured that the Mariners always have the midfield in control. He has played a pivotal role in delivering inch-perfect crosses as well as free kicks and corners. If the Mariners are to win this match, McHugh has to keep control of the midfield over his NEUFC counterpart Khassa Camara.
3) Luis Machado
The Portuguese man has been in excellent form this season and is always a threat in the opposition box. He has scored 7 goals for the Highlanders, the highest for his team. His creativity up front is also a precious wealth of NEUFC and Jamil would be hoping that his No. 10 will again polish his scoring boots against ATKMB in the semifinals.
4) Benjamin Lambot
The Belgian has been the pillar of NEUFC’S defense along with Dylan Fox. He also has the ability to score goals up front and that makes him one of the main men for his team. To keep the likes of Roy Krishna and Williams at Bay, Lambot needs to be on the top of his game.
The match would be an exciting one to watch. Both teams will be trying to gain an advantage over other in the first leg. The control over midfield in the match will have a big role to play in determining the winner of the match. Thus both teams would be trying to gain possession over the Midfield. Habas and Jamil are up for an excellent duel this weekend.
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