Defending champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) will be looking to carry on with their winning momentum against Mumbai City FC when the two sides meet at the Salt Lake Stadium in an Indian Super League (ISL) match in Kolkata on Friday.
Mumbai are currently seventh on the points table with 13 points and have no chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. Atletico, on the other hand, have quite easily made the last four and now firmly sit at the top of the table with 23 points, but ideally the Nicolas Anelka-coached Mumbai would want to seal their lacklustre campaign with a bang.
Mumbai promised a lot at the beginning with the likes of Indian captain Sunil Chhetri and Anelka leading the attack but somehow they just failed to take off, winning just three of their 13 games so far.
On the other hand, Antonio Lopez Habas’ Atletico were struggling during the middle of the league as they kept losing key players to injuries but rallied back with a hat-trick of wins.
Habas is keen on maintaining their current form and doing well against Mumbai.
“We have to play Mumbai next, we take one game at a time. That is my philosophy,” Habas said earlier when asked about the knock-out stages.
When one takes into account the head to head encounters, Atletico have won two of the three contests -- their last coming in the first leg this season where they trounced the Ranbir Kapoor co-owned side 4-1.
But coming to the game, Habas would know it would not be easy to beat them again. Mumbai are a team who have been inconsistent but on their day they can trample any team in the competition.
It will be interesting to see how Habas plans his defence against the likes of Sony Norde, Chhetri and Anelka as the troika can be a real threat combining together.
But it is not the forwards that Mumbai have a problem with, winning or losing will depend on how they contain the likes of Iain Hume and Sameegh Doutie who have been ATK’s finest players this season with the former netting nine goals so far.
Habas might, however, opt to rest the duo and keep them fresh for the semis but even if he plays the likes of Serbian striker Dejan Lekic upfront he will still have Mumbai on their toes.