ISL: Bengaluru FC, ATK face off in battle of attrition
With both Bengaluru FC and ATK having qualified for the Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs, there is a likelihood that the coaches would opt to give rest to several of their first team players
Bengaluru: ATK will look to do the double over Bengaluru FC when they face defending champions Bengaluru at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday evening (February 22).
The Kolkata outfit edged Bengaluru 1-0 back in December wherein they dominated the game from start to finish.
Also read: Chennaiyin end Mumbai City's playoff dream
With both teams having qualified for the play-offs, there is a likelihood that the coaches would opt to give rest to several of their first team players.
Bengaluru FC haven’t been in a good run of form as they picked only a point from their last two away games in Chennai and Kerala. In the midweek AFC Cup qualifying fixture in Maldives, the Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat against Maldives’ Maziya although they did score a crucial away goal.
The good news is that Sunil Chhetri and Juanan are back in contention for a start as they have served their suspension. However, Albert Serran is ruled out after having picked his fourth yellow card.
“If you remember, ATK are the only champions to reach the playoffs after winning the title. All the other teams have struggled after winning the trophy. But, here we are; three seasons, three playoff spots,” said Cuadrat.
Meanwhile, ATK will look to bounce back after their 3-1 defeat on home soil by Chennaiyin FC last weekend. Antonio Habas, the ATK coach, would want his team to return to winning ways ahead of the crucial playoffs.
The bad news for the Kolkata side is that experienced centre-back Anas Edathodika has been ruled out for six months owing to an injury he picked up in the last match. Attacking midfielder Javier Hernandez too is suspended which means David Williams could be handed a start.
“We have to win tomorrow. The mentality does not change. Bengaluru is a big club. They are the champions. It will be difficult for us. We respect the opponent.
“No special plans for Sunil (Chhetri). My plan is against Bengaluru FC and not just one player," expressed Habas.
Will ATK inflict Bengaluru’s second home defeat of the season or would the Blues pull one over the high flying Kolkata outfit?