ATK Mohun Bagan vs SC East Bengal: Stakes high in ISL Kolkata Derby

KOLKATA, India - Feb. 18, 2021 - PRLog -- Cold statistics often confirm a trend but don't necessarily point towards an inference. Particularly in the case of any acrimonious football derby where several factors determine the contest's eventual outcome.

Hence it is wise not to declare ATK Mohun Bagan outright 'favorites' to do a double over SC East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby on Friday solely on the strength of their ISL standings.

Table-toppers ATKMB (36 points from 17 games) are certainly better placed than a gradually-improving SCEB (17 from 17) and undoubtedly are the favoured team on paper.

But the storied 'Boro Match' (Big Match), in its 100th year, has witnessed countless triumph-against-all-odds stories where conventional wisdom went for a toss to rule out SCEB's chances.

For SC East Bengal to win, only a fighting mentality won't be enough, though they only have bragging rights to play for.

Meticulous planning and its accurate execution against a well-rehearsed team is what their suspended coach Robbie Fowler would demand from the stands, unable to inspire them from the dugout.

Complicating matters is the absence of his deputy Tony Grant, who like Fowler has also been hauled up for his foul mouth against referees.

Considering the defensive as well as goal-scoring woes the Red and Golds have faced all season, how they tackle these key fumbling departments yet keep Roy Krishna-spurred Bagan at bay could determine which way the battle would tilt.

A draw would help neither but potentially damage the prospects of Asian Champions League (ACL) berth-chasing, Bagan, more as it would hand second-placed Mumbai City (34 points) a chance to catch up with them on points.

Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Habas is well aware of these varied permutations and combinations. Being a two-time ISL winner, he has drilled his team exactly to his no-nonsense, happy to win ugly rather than 'entertain' specifications.

His 'balanced' approach may not get the seal of approval from most green and maroon supporters but has been undeniably effective. And with four straight wins, they seem to be peaking at the right time, unlike Mumbai.

Much of Habas' offensive strategy has been Krishna oriented while his water-tight defense has been backed up by reliable Arindam Bhattacharjee in goal.

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