Atletico de Kolkata
Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune
12 December 2015
Chennaiyin FC, who finished third in the league stages, host Atletico de Kolkata in the first leg of the second semi finals but the decision to shift the venue hasna t gone down well among the Chennaiyin FC supporters, with the city slowly recovering from the flood. After being stranded due to the flood before their final league stage game, the Hero Indian Super League authorities thought ita d not be worth the risk to host the second semi-finals in Chennai and decided to shift the game to Pune.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Marco Materazzia s side have managed to qualify for the semis for the second consecutive season and will look to qualify for the finals for the first time, after losing out to Kerala Blasters in a dramatic second leg in the previous season. Chennaiyin FC, who had been hard done by refereeing decisions last year in the semis, will have motivation in surplus to qualify for the finals, having failed to defeat the defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in either of the league stage matches.
Chennaiyin went down in both the matches after a close fight, Atletico de Kolkataa s marquee player Helder Postiga found it too easy to score past the Chennaiyin defence in the first match, but the injury meant the Chennaiyin FC players could breathe easy, and soon had two glorious opportunity to level the scores. The second match remained the same as Chennaiyin again collapsed after taking the lead in the 27th minute through Raphael Augusto, but Atletico found a new star in the making in their ranks as they managed to overturn the score around the hour mark. The second defeat to Atletico marked the last of defeats in a four match winless streak for the side from Chennai, Chennaiyin soon found their winning streak as they finally found their winning combinations after finding an alternate creative spark to Elano.
Elano had been the main creative spark for Chennaiyin FC last season, but most managers have already earmarked the dangers of Elano. Despite being heavily marked throughout the season Elano still managed damage the opposition defence this season though not as consistently as the previous season. Chennaiyin are likely to field a 4-3-3 formation with quite a few players absent in the first leg due to suspensions or injuries. Elano and Mehrajuddin Wado will sit out the first leg due to suspension after accumulating four yellow cards throughout the season, while Raphael Augusto, who had been one of the key players this season, is doubtful due to his injury.
Karanjit Singh is likely to return in goal, as Materazzi is likely to field a back four of Bernard Mendy, Mailson, Alessandro Potenza and Dhanachandra Singh. Apoula Edel Bete has been inconsistent this season, whenever called up and will have to sit out the first leg in the absence of key creative players. Maneul Blasi, Thoi Singh and Harmanjot Khabra are likely to form the three man workhorse midifeld behind a front three of Jeje Lalpekhlua, Stiven Mendoza and Bruno Pelissari. In the absence of Elano and Raphael Augusto, the duty to step up will fall on the shoulders of the young Colombian Stiven Mendoza, who is in the race for the golden boot with eleven goals, and will be facing fellow golden boot chaser Iain Hume in the match. Mendoza will hope to extend the difference between the two during the match, but worryingly he hasna t been able to score against the side from Kolkata this season and will be determined to change that.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Karanjit; Mendy, Mailson, Potenza, Dhana; Blasi, Thoi, Khabra, Jeje; Mendoza, Pelissari
Atletico de Kolkata
Defending champions Atletico de Kolkata will look to defend their title in the best possible manner by qualifying for the final to defend the trophy themselves, but Chennaiyin are the last hurdle in their way to finals and having defeated the side from Chennai in both their league stage matches they will be pretty confident.
Atletico de Kolkata finished second and hold the advantage of playing the second leg at home, but the flood in Chennai meant that the first leg is being played at a neutral venue handing even more advantage to the side from Kolkata. Chennaiyin FC are bound to use that as a motivation, but Atletico de Kolkata, who too had suffered a mid-season blip, before going on a sparkling unbeaten run of five match before the streak snapped at the last league stage game against Mumbai City FC. Atletico will be eager to prove that their loss to Mumbai City was something that they have already put behind them.
Atletico de Kolkata also have another advantage of added rest after their league stage campaign ended way earlier than their opponents who had been stranded in Chennai due to the floods and had to travel by bus to Tripati to travel to Pune. Though, both teams should be refreshed completely for the match the additional rest should work in favour of the side from Kolkata.
Atletico de Kolkata, who had struggled to score goals initially in the absence of Postiga, have finally found their creative spark in Sameehg Doutie, who sparked the goals for the side from Kolkata. Atletico de Kolkata are the second highest goal scoring team after FC Goa, but one could hardly have guessed them after their initially six games, where the team struggled to score goals in the absence of their marquee player. Antonio Lopez Habasa s move to play Jamie Gavilan a bit deeper worked like charm.
Atletico are likely to continue with a 4-2-3-1 formation, Iain Hume will be the front man with Sameehg Doutie and Izumi Arata will play on either flanks. Gavialan is likey to play as the number 10 behind Hume, while Ofentse Nato and Borja Fernandez are likely to play in the double pivot. The back four is likely to see one change with Augustine Fernandes returning to the lineup in place of Napallan Mohanraj, while Rino Anto, Arnab Mondal, Tiri will retain their place in the team. Amrinder Singh too would return in goal in place of Juan Calatayud.
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1):Amrinder; Anto, Arnab, Tiri, Augustine; Nato, Borja; Doutie, Gavilan, Izumi; Hume.
Stiven Mendoza (Chennaiyin FC)
The young Colombian will have to shoulder the responsibility in the absence of Elano and Raphael Augusto, who had been an integral part in Chennaiyina s late surge to the semi, and the injury is bound to work as a definite setback but Mendozaa s eleven goals had been a key part for the Chennaiyin run to the semis.
Sameehg Doutie (Atletico de Kolkata)
Sameehg Doutiea s meteoric rise to being a key player for Atletico de Kolkata can only be credited to the managementa s astute scouting for young foreigners. The side from Kolkata had been struggling for goal and the introduction of the winger provided the drive and creativity to side, who went on to score the second highest goals. Since being introduced to the team, Doutie has been irreplaceable to side that needed a young winger who could reshuffle the opposition defence.
Chennaiyin FC 1-2 Atletico de Kolkata
Chennaiyin FC are a tough side to play, but Atletico de Kolkata are the slight favourites for the first leg with injuries, suspension, neutral venue likely to hit Chennaiyin hard. Atletico de Kolkata on the other hand will be motivated enough to see through the first leg. TheHardTackle predicts a narrow defeat for the hosts.
Images Courtesy: ISL Media