Mohun Bagan Super Giant vs East Bengal: Preview and Prediction
The Kolkata Derby between Mohun Bagan Super Giant and East Bengal is all set to thrill, spill and bring the best out of Indian football fans as the two giants lock horns on Saturday at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata from 7:30 pm IST on Matchday 13 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season.
East Bengal is fresh from a triumphant return to form, winning the Kalinga Super Cup last weekend. With the Red and Gold Brigade also having multiple exits on the last day of the winter transfer window, they will field a slightly different team than the one that beat their arch-rivals 3-1 in the Kalinga Super Cup a few weeks back.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant, on the other hand, will be keen to wipe away their disappointing run in the Kalinga Super Cup and return to winning ways at the business end of the league season. They too will have a different playing XI from the one that lost to East Bengal, with a whole host of their Indian contingent returning from AFC Asian Cup 2023 duties.
MBSG is currently placed 5th in the league table, having lost their last couple of league games with 19 points from 10 matches. On the other hand, East Bengal is coming from a string of draws in the league and is currently placed 8th on the table with 11 points in 10 matches.
With East Bengal coming into the iconic Derby having won all 5 of their games in the Kalinga Super Cup, Mohun Bagan Super Giant managed to win 2 of their 3 games only in the same competition. For the Mariners, coach Antonio Habas will take charge and be keen to return to winning ways in the league at all costs. Losses to fellow title-chasers Mumbai and Goa before the league season paused have seriously dampened their title charges.
For East Bengal, momentum is on their side but Carles Cuadrat will know how difficult goalscoring in the league has been for his side. They have managed to net only 11 goals in 10 league games so far, having failed to find the back of the net in their last three league games against Punjab, Mumbai City, and Odisha which all ended in 0-0 stalemates.
Head to Head Record
For a clash this iconic, it is East Bengal who has the historic bragging rights as well as that of the season so far. The Torchbearers have nicked 141 wins while the Mariners have 128 to their name.
This season, the two sides have faced each other thrice and the Red and Gold Brigade have won two of those encounters while Mohun Bagan Super Giant has won one.
The last time these two rivals faced each other was in their final group game of the Kalinga Super Cup, where East Bengal came from a goal down to win 3-1. Hector Yuste had bagged the opener for the Mariners, but East Bengal’s talisman Cleiton Silva came clutch with a brace and Nandhakumar Sekar scored the other goal as they sailed through to the semi-finals.
The two sides also faced each other twice in the Durand Cup this season, with East Bengal winning 1-0 in the group stage but Mohun Bagan Super Giant making their mark in the final with the same scoreline and also becoming the most successful team in the competition’s history in the process.
For Mohun Bagan Super Giant, the return of first-choice goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, defender Subhasish Bose, midfielders Anirudh Thapa, Deepak Tangri, Liston Colaco, Sahal Abdul Samad, and forward Manvir Singh from the AFC Asian Cup 2023 will bring much-needed depth in their lineup.
It is rumoured that injured defender Anwar Ali could also return to the playing XI for the Mariners while Joni Kauko is also set to join the Mariners, but it is unlikely that the Finnish midfielder will be fit for the Derby.
For East Bengal, the departures of midfielder Borja Herrera and forward Javier Siverio made the headlines on transfer deadline day. They have signed former Barcelona starlet Victor Vazquez as a potential replacement while the arrival of forward Iago Falque fell through due to his injury concerns.
East Bengal will also be able to utilise the services of Lalchungnunga and Naorem Mahesh Singh with the latter returning from national team duty recently and making his impact felt in the final of the Kalinga Super Cup with a sublime assist.
Predicted Starting XIs
Mohun Bagan Super Giant (4-2-3-1): Vishal Kaith; Lalrinliana Hnamte, Brendan Hamill, Sumit Rathi, Subashish Bose; Deepak Tangri, Anirudh Thapa; Manvir Singh, Hugo Boumous, Dimitri Petratos; Jason Cummings.
East Bengal FC (4-3-3): Prabhsukhan Gill; Mohamad Rakip, Jose Pardo, Hijazi Maher, Nishu Kumar; Saul Crespo, Ajay Chhetri, Vishnu PV; Naorem Mahesh Singh, Cleiton Silva, Nandhakumar Sekar.
One can expect an exciting battle between the Kolkata giants in the Derby, replete with all the action and drama you associate such a high-voltage clash with. East Bengal go into the Derby with a lot of momentum, so it would not be a surprise to see them end the night with a broad smile on their faces.