East Bengal vs Odisha: Preview and Prediction
It will be a battle of the beasts as East Bengal take on Odisha in the final of the 2024 Kalinga Super Cup. The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar will bear witness to this monumental clash between the two sides on Sunday at 7:30 PM IST onwards.
East Bengal has been a delight to watch under manager Carles Cuadrat, with their most clinical performance arguably coming against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in their final group game. The Torchbearers tactically outclassed a resurgent Jamshedpur 2-0 in their semi-final game, underlining just how good they look under Cuadrat.
Odisha will fancy their chances as the defending champions as well, with their Spanish gaffer Sergio Lobera well-versed in winning Cup competitions in India. They have had the added advantage of playing the competition in front of their home support, something they will also want to make the most out of in the final as well.
They had a controversial entry in the final as their opponents Mumbai ended up seeing 3 red cards on the night and the Juggernauts came away with a 1-0 victory.
Both teams come into this final clash having not lost a game in the competition yet and having topped their individual groups. East Bengal have been a revelation in the process, having scored the most goals in the competition so far – 10 goals.
They have beaten Jamshedpur, Mohun Bagan Super Giant, Sreenidi Deccan, and Hyderabad so far in the competition and would like to go one better after finishing as the runners-up in the 2023 Durand Cup.
Odisha on the other hand, have bagged a total of 8 goals thus far and have conceded the least – 3 goals only. They made light work of both Bengaluru and Inter Kashi in their first 2 group games and then eked out Goa in a 3-2 thriller in their final group clash.
With Lobera at the helm of affairs and talismanic striker Diego Mauricio finding the back in their semi-final fixture, there is little doubt that they will go into the final as favorites.
Head to Head Record
The two finalists of the Kalinga Super Cup have met each other 7 times so far, with Odisha having the final laugh on 5 of those occasions and East Bengal just managing a solitary win so far.
The two sides last faced each other in December 2023 in the Indian Super League in Kolkata, with the match ending in a 0-0 stalemate. Goalkeepers Amrinder Singh and Prabhsukhan Gill for Odisha and East Bengal respectively were definitely key to the result that night, with both pulling out multiple saves throughout the night.
East Bengal’s PV Vishnu and Nandhakumar Sekhar had both caused headaches to the Odisha defence that night, with the referee also turning down a couple of penalty calls in the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Kirirangan during the game for the Torchbearers. For the Juggernauts, Isak Vanlalruatfela was definitely the most impactful player on the pitch with him drawing Gill and the home side’s defence to action on multiple occasions.
For East Bengal, the return of Naorem Mahesh from the AFC Asian Cup will be a huge boost to Cuadrat ahead of the final. He will no doubt be instrumental in partnering up with Cleiton in the final, who is already the tournament’s top scorer and cause headaches to the Odisha defense.
With neither side facing injuries currently, it will come down to the Spanish tacticians from both sides to pick their playing XIs depending on training performances.
Predicted Starting XIs
East Bengal(4-3-3): Prabhsukhan Gill; Mohamad Rakip, Jose Pardo, Hijazi Maher, Nishu Kumar; Saúl Crespo, Vishnu T, Souvik Chakraborty; Cleiton Silva, Javier Siverio, Nandhakumar Sekar
Odisha(4-3-3): Lalthuammawia Ralte; Carlos Delgado, Mourtada Fall, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Amey Ranawade; Ahmed Jahouh, Isak Vanlalruatfela, Lenny Rodrigues; Cy Goddard, Roy Krishna, Diego Mauricio
This game is essentially going to be a face-off between East Bengal’s offense and Odisha’s defense. The battle of Cuadrat and Lobera, seen in the 2019 ISL final still remains one of the biggest tactical battles to date in Indian Football and the fans would be witnessing another masterclass from both head coaches on Sunday.