ATK Mohun Bagan vs Odisha: Knockout 2- Preview and Prediction
The knockout round of the 2022-23 Indian Super League brings up another neighborhood rivalry where the two football sides belonging to the football-devoted regions will share the same battlefield.
The sovereignty of ATK Mohun Bagan will be challenged by the visitors from Odisha as the Eastern supremacy of the Indian top-flight league will be on the line for the second knockout clash. This forthcoming high-voltage clash will take place at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium this Saturday.
The Mariners have made it to the playoffs after kick-starting the ISL campaign as title favorites. The Kolkata-based outfit suffered a hefty injury crisis in their roster throughout the ninth edition however, they still managed to stand by their neat record of finishing among the Top 3 in all appearances.
The Green and Maroon Brigade is entrusting the Spanish gaffer Juan Ferrando and his knights to bring glory to the City of Joy for the first time since their grand merger.
Meanwhile, grand celebrations have erupted in Odisha and the entire state is in a party mood as the Eastern Dragons have made it to the playoffs for the first time in club history. It completes a cycle as the Spaniard general Josep Gombau was the same man who coached them in their debut season and now becomes the first manager to achieve the playoffs qualification.
Odisha’s hopes were almost over after their defeat against Jamshedpur in the final league fixture however, fortunes favored the braves and Goa’s failure led to a miraculous climax for the Juggernauts.
The ATKMB side will be turning up for the knockout fixture with a high-spirited roster that has thrashed two of the biggest rivals in a span of two matchdays. They edged past the old foes Kerala Blasters in a 2-1 encounter at home and then went on to carry forward the triumphant run in the Great Kolkata Derby. Two second-half strikes from Slavko Damjanovic (68′) and Dimitri Petratos (90′) sealed the second Boro triumph of the season for the Mariners.
On the other hand, Odisha’s undefeated streak of four games came to an end when they faced Jamshedpur in their most recent appearance. The Juggernauts ended up on the losing side of a do-or-die fixture as the 2021-22 ISL Shield winners stunned the Kalinga Arena crowd by registering a 2-0 triumph. It also marked the first time in the month of February 2023 when the offensive unit of the Bhubaneswar-based outfit failed to break the goal deadlock.
The two of the latest entrants into the ISL universe have squared off against each other at the Indian top-flight league on six occasions to date. The Mariners have displayed sheer dominance in this rivalry by winning three and drawing the remaining three face-offs while the Eastern Dragons are yet to taste a victory over the Kolkata heavyweights.
The first encounter of the 2022-23 season between these two combatants resulted in a goalless tie at Kalinga Stadium. The head-to-head streak of three straight draws finally ended in the returning fixture when the Australian forward Petratos’ brace starred in ATKMB’s 2-0 heroics at home.
The Australian central defender Brandon Hamill will be available for this forthcoming game after recently serving a one-match suspension. However, Brandon may not be able to directly barge into the ATKMB starting XI as his position now belongs to Slavko Damjanovic who scored the opening goal of the Kolkata Derby. Meanwhile, the Irish holding midfielder Carl McHugh is likely to return to the matchday squad after being rested for the East Bengal clash.
The major miss for the Juggernauts in the playoffs is going to be the stalwart defender Osama Malik who has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury. The 29-year-old Kalinga guardian Amrinder Singh has played each and every minute of Odisha in the league stages and is aiming to continue it in the playoffs as well. Josep Gombau is likely to field an unchanged lineup with a 4-3-3 formation for the doomsday night of club history.
Predicted Starting XIs
ATK Mohun Bagan (4-2-3-1): Vishal Kaith; Asish Rai, Pritam Kotal, Slavko Damjanovic, Subhasish Bose; Glan Martins, Carl McHugh; Manvir Singh, Hugo Boumous, Ashique Kuruniyan; Dimitri Petratos
Odisha (4-2-3-1): Amrinder Singh; Shubham Sarangi, Narender Gehlot, Carlos Delgado, Sahil Panwar; Saul Crespo, Thoiba Singh; Nandhakumar Sekar, Pedro Martin, Isak Vanlalruatfela; Diego Mauricio
The key prediction aspects such as head-to-head record, current form and home advantage favoring the Green and Maroon Brigade claim to advance to the penultimate round. ATKMB is in formidable form at home while the presence of passionate Mariners in a large number also brightens up their chances to conquer the knockout contest.
Considering the fact that both of these combatants have an identical playstyle, the final scoreline difference is likely to be not more than a solitary goal.