In the Indian Super League today, Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) lock horns against the men from NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium, and both teams will have to take risks in equal measure in order to cement their semi-final berth in the tournament.
The hosts ATK, who emerged as champions in the inaugural edition of the league, started this edition with five wins in a row and were cruising along nicely before succumbing to two losses in their last four fixtures. Thus, they will look to avoid any further slip-ups which can cost them a place in the top four.
Placed fourth with 13 points from nine matches, a boost for their confidence will be the fact the Iain Hume who was going through a lean patch finally managed to find the back of the net in their last game in which Javi Lara also scored a spectacular goal from distance.
A 2-2 tie in the last match against Delhi Dynamos, one where they lost the lead twice can be attributed to errors from the backline which featured Tiri and Henrique Sereno for their lapse led to the Malouda goal and cost the franchise valuable three points.
A win will ensure the the Jose Molina coached side not only secure the second spot in the points tally but also improve their home form where they have only won once in their four matches.
Three points and three places separate the two teams at the moment, and more than Kolkata, it will NEUFC who will be eager to clinch the three points at stake. Akin to their rivals, they started off in great form, winning three of their first four encounters but subsequently failed to register a win in any of their next five fixtures, with the last loss coming against FC Goa where the surrendered an early advantage.
NEUFC are languishing second from bottom with 10 points, and will settle for nothing less than a win, with an eye on the semi-final spot for a victory will take them to the top four.
The match will mark the return of Emiliano Alfaro who was suspended in the last match after picking up his fourth yellow card. Nelo Vingada, will be of the hope that this bolsters the performance of the visitors and they get back to winning ways.
Head-to-head: Atletico de Kolkata 2-2 NorthEast United FC
Atletico de Kolkata: Hume, Ralte, Postiga, Lara, Borja, Pearson, Robert, Arnab, Sereno, Prabir and Debjit.
NEUFC: Alfaro, Velez, Katsumi, Romaric, Seityasen, Rowllin, Robin, Zokora, Gustavo, Nirmal, Subrata.