Both Atletico de Kolkata and Delhi Dynamos will have a point to prove when the two unbeaten teams of the ongoing season clash in an intriguing Hero Indian Super League clash at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
History is against the inaugural edition champions ATK as they have conquered every opponent but Delhi Dynamos.
In four matches between these two teams, ATK have scored just twice, the fewest they have managed to score against any opponent and Jose Molina’s team will have its task cutout.
But ATK have managed to stay unbeaten from four matches, with one win against Kerala Blasters FC and draws against Chennaiyin FC, Mumbai City FC and FC Goa.
ATK squandered a one-goal advantage at half-time and the Goans levelled from an ‘unlucky’ penalty to force a 1-1 draw.
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“We have been unlucky in our last match but that’s football,” marquee player Helder Postiga, who’s recovering from a rib injury, told reporters.
The Portuguese World Cupper’s absence after he sustained the injury in Kerala has hurt ATK and they badly need the 34-year-old to regain his fitness.
“I’m feeling much, much better. It’s up to the coach to take a call,” Postiga said.
ATK will also hope that Iain Hume is back in his elements as the winner of Golden Ball for Kerala Blasters FC in ISL-2014 has only scored once from four appearances.
Hume had scored 11 goals last season and Molina will want the 32-year-old fires alongside South African Sameehg Doutie, who scored against FC Goa.
Based on past records in the ISL, it will not be easy for the hosts to break down Delhi Dynamos.
Should ATK fail to collect full points against the visitors — which can possibly take them to the second spot –it will be for the first time at home in any of their first three fixtures.
Delhi Dynamos had started with a 3-1 away win against defending champions Chennaiyin FC.
But Gianluca Zambrotta’s side has only managed three successive draws against the likes of Kerala Blasters, NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC.
The last match was particularly difficult for Delhi as they had to fight back twice from a two-goal deficit to hold Mumbai 3-3.
“Fortunately, because of some mistakes from the Mumbai City FC team we could come back from 3-1 down,” Zambrotta admitted.
Should Zambrotta aspire to walk away with full points from Kolkata, he will need Brazilian winger Marcelinho to fire. The Brazilian’s pace and trickery has troubled most defences, reflecting in his three goals and two assists so far.
If only marquee player Florent Malouda can reproduce the form that took Delhi Dynamos to the semi-finals last season, the visitors can enjoy a massive upperhand.
Malouda’s average passes per match this season has dropped to 37.5 from 65 last season but given the former Chelsea mid-fielder’s unquestionable quality, Zambrotta will hope it’s only a matter of time before Malouda ups the ante.