I-League: Tactical Breakdown Of The Kolkata Derby
The day of reckoning has arrived; the second Kolkata Derby of the 2017 I-League is upon us as Mohun Bagan play host to their eternal rivals, East Bengal at the Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri on Sunday (9th April). It promises to be a potentially make or break match - where any slip-up can end the title aspirations of both the sides.
With the first derby ending in a drab 0-0 draw, Sunday's clash is expected to be producing goals as a draw helps the cause of neither teams.
East Bengal go into the derby with 27 points from 14 games, whereas their cross-city rivals, Mohun Bagan have garnered 26 points from 13 games.
Mohun Bagan won't be tinkering with their 4-4-2 formation. With the likes of Pranoy Haldar and Subhasish Bose missing out on injuries, Sanjoy Sen might just be forced to include u-22 Azharuddin Mallick and Raju Gaikwad in the starting lineup.
East Bengal are likely to resort to their signature 4-1-2-1-2 diamond formation with Wedson returning to the squad after recovering from a groin injury. With Arnab Mondal missing the trip to Siliguri, the onus will be on Gurwinder Singh to shoulder the responsibility in the defence. U-22 player Abinash Ruidas might also make a comeback to the starting XI.
Mohun Bagan: D-D-L-W-W
East Bengal: L-W-W-L-L
Head To Head (I-League)
Both teams have locked horns 39 times in the I-League. East Bengal have reigned supreme 15 times compared to Bagan, who have won 11. The teams could not be separated on 13 occasions.
East Bengal are also ahead of their cross-city rivals in the goal-scoring department, netting 43 goals compared to the 33 scored by Mohun Bagan.
Battle of the Masterminds
Trevor James Morgan vs Sanjoy Sen
Both managers will be looking for the elusive three points in the derby and would not be pleased to settle for anything less. Trevor James Morgan will be the one feeling the heat a little more than his counterpart Sanjoy Sen as East Bengal have played a game more than Bagan. A derby loss can have devastating effects on the future of Trevor Morgan as the East Bengal officials are not too pleased with Morgan presently.
With Haitian Wedson Anselme returning from an injury, Morgan can breathe a sigh of relief.
On the flipside, Sanjoy Sen asserted that Mohun Bagan will be playing their attacking brand of football, something which guided them to convincing victories against Bengaluru and Dhaka Abahani.
Analyzing The Defences
Mohun Bagan's defence is Sanjoy Sen's main area of concern, even though the stats tell a different story. Statistics show that Bagan have conceded just 8 goals, the least among the I-League sides. With first choice left-back Subhasish Bose missing out on an injury, Anas and Eduardo will have to step up their game to contain the East Bengal strikers as stop-gap left back Raju Gaikwad have failed to impress in his last two outings.
East Bengal, on the other hand, have their own set of problems when it comes to the defensive line. Gurwinder Singh will be starting with Bukenya at the heart of the defence in place of Arnab Mondal. Rahul Bheke and Narayan Das are expected to start at the flanks and will be vested with the crucial job of taming Sony Norde and Katsumi Yusa.
Analyzing The Midfields
Two midfield lineups offer two different types of control, two different approaches to the game. Mohun Bagan are mainly dependent on their wingers to conjure some magic for them, while East Bengal are mainly dependent upon the central midfield duo of Wedson and Mehtab to dictate tempo.
Mohun Bagan, however, will be missing their robust central midfielder, Pranoy Haldar due to injury.
East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan will have to bring in Abinash Ruidas in the absence of Nikhil Poojari. India international Jackichand Singh is likely to start in the right wing.
Analyzing The Forward Lines
Both the teams are equally good when it comes to their forward line. Mohun Bagan might have to start with Azhar and Duffy upfront but can always resort to Balwant Singh and Duffy when necessary.
East Bengal will likely start with Payne and Willis Plaza upfront as Robin Singh is carrying a niggle.
Key Players To Watch Out
♦ Sony Norde - Mohun Bagan are heavily reliant on their Haitian talisman to conjure some magic down the left flank. His importance to the side can be understood from the fact that he has been directly involved in 5 of the 6 goals Mohun Bagan have scored after the international break in their last two matches. Sony assisted 4 of them, scoring 1 himself.
♦ Wedson Anselme - Much like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal also have a lot of expectations from their Haitian Wedson Anselme. Like poetry in motion when in song, Wedson's hold-up play and ability to score vital goals from the midfield will make him a man to watch out for. However, it wont be easy for Wedson as he will be playing his first game after a long injury layoff.
Some Interesting Facts:
1. This is the third derby match that will be played in Siliguri.
2. Sanjoy Sen has won just 1 of the 6 derbies in charge of Bagan.
3. Trevor Morgan has lost just 2 derbies out of the 13 derbies in charge against Mohun Bagan.
4. Last 3 derby matches in Siliguri has seen just 5 goals. East Bengal scored 3, whereas Bagan scored 2.
5. East Bengal are unbeaten in the last 5 derby matches. (Including the CFL walkover)
Kickoff - The match is scheduled to kick off in the evening at 7.05 PM.
Follow Abhishek Mukherjee on Twitter- @theabhishekway