Northeast United vs East Bengal: Preview and Prediction
Both teams will come into the game with different forms, even though they both drew their last league game.
Northeast United have had miserable form in the league so far, having last won a game in October. The Highlanders are placed 8th on the table currently, having secured 13 points in 13 games so far.
East Bengal, on the other hand, will travel to this away clash brimming with confidence. After their triumphant run in the Kalinga Super Cup, they also gave a good demonstration of themselves in the Kolkata Derby which they played last week.
The Torchbearers currently sit just below Northeast United in the 9th spot but have two games in hand. A win will help them leapfrog into the 6th spot, which is no doubt something that manager Carles Cuadrat will have on his mind.
Northeast United played out a drab 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur in their last game, courtesy of a Mohammed Ali Bemmamer screamer.
They gave a decent account of themselves in the 2024 Super Cup, having beaten Kerala Blasters and Shillong Lajong in the group stage but failed to make it to the knockouts.
Head coach Juan Pedro Benali will want to ensure they stay on track in the league, as strings of losses and draws since October have made their current position untenable. A leaky defense is going to be his primary concern as they have shipped in 19 goals so far – joint-third highest in the league so far. Another damning stat on his plate would be the fact that his side has not kept a clean sheet in their last 14 games.
East Bengal, on the other hand, drew 2-2 to eternal rivals Mohun Bagan Super Giant in their last fixture. The Red and Gold brigade went ahead twice thanks to strikes from Ajay Chhetri and Cleiton Silva but conceded both times as well.
In the 2024 Super Cup, East Bengal was a different beast to watch as they won all their games including the final and Carles will no doubt be keen to keep the momentum going into the league. East Bengal’s last win in the league was coincidentally against Northeast United only in the reverse fixture, back in December.
Head to Head Record
Across all competitions, the two sides have faced each other 8 times. Northeast United has had the final laugh on 3 occasions, while East Bengal have claimed 3 victories to their name as well.
Interestingly, East Bengal have not lost to the Highlanders in their last 5 clashes( 3 wins, 2 draws) and are also unbeaten in their last 4 away games across all competitions.
In the reverse fixture in Kolkata, the home side made light work of the visiting team, thrashing them 5-0. Borja Herrera, Cleiton Silva and Nandha Kumar were all on target that night.
For Northeast United, no major injuries or suspensions plague the side. Gani Ahmed Nigam is currently on 3 yellow cards, so the winger needs to be wary if he gets an opportunity to feature in the match.
For East Bengal, midfielder Souvik Chakrabarti will be back in action, having served his suspension in the Derby. Apart from him, Naorem Singh and Cleiton Silva are both on 3 yellow cards and could face suspensions if they pick up one more in this clash.
Saul Crespo picked up an injury against Mohun Bagan Super Giant and is unlikely to feature in Guwahati.
Predicted Starting XIs
Northeast United (4-3-3): Mirshad Michu; Bekey Oram, Asheer Akhtar, Michel Zabaco, Buanthanglun Samte; Macarton Louis Nickson, Mohammed Ali Bemammer, Hamza Regragui; Jithin Madathil Subran, Néstor Albiach, Redeem Tlang
East Bengal (4-4-2): Prabhsukhan Singh Gill; Mohamad Rakip, José Pardo, Hijazi Maher, Nishu Kumar; Ajay Chhetri, Souvik Chakrabarti, Sayan Banerjee, Nandhakumar Sekar; Cleiton Silva, Naorem Singh.
East Bengal’s momentum certainly sees them as favourites but one can never write off Northeast United at home. With Bemmamer in form, it is certainly going to be interesting to see if Benali’s side can spring any surprises.