East Bengal vs Odisha: Preview and Prediction
Matchday 11 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League brings yet another intriguing battle where a high-voltage contest of football is guaranteed. East Bengal will be summoned by their neighborhood challengers Odisha where the supremacy of the East will be on the line. This forthcoming Eastern Derby between two contrasting combatants will be taking place at the historic venue of the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Friday.
The Red and Gold Brigade which has currently occupied 7th position in the points tally is struggling to leap the mid-table. Carles Cuadrat will be hoping to overcome his team’s prime weakness of inconsistency and bring them back on the triumph chariot as early as possible.
On the other hand, Sergio Lobera took his time to instill his footballing ideology in the Kalinga roster and he is gradually turning them into strong title contenders. Along with Goa and Mumbai City, East Bengal is one of the three sides that have not been defeated in their last five ISL fixtures.
The Red and Gold Brigade seems to have worked on their frailties during the break as they are unbeaten since returning from the mid-November halt. However, the Kolkata-based outfit got reality checks following their emphatic 5-0 victory over NorthEast United at home.
Punjab and Mumbai City sides gave tough times to the EB attacking unit in the past two matchdays as they couldn’t score a single goal in both of their recent ISL appearances.
After the initial setbacks, it is safer to say that Lobera has finally found the winning formula for the Eastern Dragons. The Juggernauts are thriving on an unbeaten run of five games in which they dropped points only once that too against the heavyweights Mohun Bagan Super Giant.
Matchday 10 witnessed Odisha thoroughly dominating the 2021-22 ISL champions Hyderabad and eventually settling down for a convincing 3-0 triumph over the Nizams in Bhubaneswar.
This enthralling rivalry to establish supremacy in the Eastern region began in the 2020-21 season with the inclusion of East Bengal in the Indian top-flight league. However, the EB side has never managed to keep competitiveness as the head-to-head record depicts the domination by the Kalinga Warriors, leading 5-1 in 6 encounters.
The very second chapter of this rivalry was a contest that will be remembered by the ISL fans for a long time. It was a 10-goal saga played at Kalinga Stadium where seven players graced their names on the scoresheets and the home team emerged victorious by a 6-4 scoreline.
The Bhubaneswar-based club continued their dominance in the previous season after registering wins and scoring 3 or more goals in both fixtures. Interestingly, Nandhakumar Sekar who was part of the Odisha roster till the previous season scored goals against his current club on both occasions.
Cuadrat was heavily criticized by the EB Ultras for his decision to not start Nandhakumar Sekar against a strong defensive lineup of Mumbai City. However, the Spanish manager was forced to bring back the 28-year-old winger as a substitute for the second-half action owing to a forgettable offensive performance in the first half. Hence, Sekar replacing Vishnu PV on the wings is likely to be the only change from the Red and Golds camp.
Lobera made multiple changes in his lineup for the Hyderabad fixture and all of his changes fared quite well in the favor of Kalinga Warriors. Roy Krishna is in great form after recently netting a magnificent brace and will be leading the Odisha attack in the absence of Diego Mauricio.
The 26-year-old Mizo winger Jerry Mawihmingthanga being inducted into the Odisha lineup in place of Pranjal Bhumij on the right wing is expected to be the only change in this winning Juggernauts setup.
Predicted Starting XIs
East Bengal (4-1-4-1): Prabhsukhan Singh Gill; Nishu Kumar, Lalchungnunga, Hijazi Maher, Mandar Rao Desai; Souvik Chakrabarti; Naorem Mahesh Singh, Saul Crespo, Borja Herrera, Nandhakumar Sekar; Cleiton Silva
Odisha (4-3-3): Amrinder Singh; Amey Ranwade, Mourtada Fall, Carlos Delgado, Jerry Lalrinzuala; Ahmed Jahouh, Puitea, Lenny Rodrigues; Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Roy Krishna, Isak Vanlalruatfela
The prediction aspects such as current form and head-to-head record favor the contention of Eastern Dragons to win this contest. However, the Red and Gold Brigade has proved themselves to be one of those sides who are always tough to beat in front of the home crowd. Hence, it is heavily speculated that the scoreline at Salt Lake Arena may remain equivalent at the full-time whistle.