Atletico De Kolkata hosts FC Pune City in the final game of the season for both the sides. Antonio Habas returns to his old stomping ground and with FC Pune City out of the semi final spots, he would look to end the season with a bang. ATK on the other hand have already secured their place in the semi finals and would look to finish the group stage off on a high note.
Atletico De Kolkata
Atletico De Kolkata will look to try and conclude their group stages after a ‘will they? Won’t they? ’ run up in their road to the semi finals. ATK confirmed their place in the semi finals after their draw against Kerala Blasters in their last outing, but they haven’t been in the best of forms. Kolkata have dropped points more often than not, drawing a whopping seven games. There have been plenty of occasions where they let a lead slip, all owing to a leaky defensive performance and the lack of a proper midfield stronghold. Kolkata appointed Jose Molina as their new head coach at the start of the season and it was given that the squad would take time to adjust to the tactics of their new coach. But Molina’s tactics and strategies haven’t been a crowd pleaser. The Spaniard has been accused of shutting up shop far too quickly at times and rightly so. The way Molina wants his team to play requires quite a lot of pace while attacking and a midfield stronghold, qualities which this ageing squad of players fail to produce day in day out.
Marquee man Helder Postiga too hasn’t lived up to his billing; the former Portuguese international who missed quite some matches with injury in the beginning, has scored only twice this season. His hold up and ball distribution has been slow which has affected the squad plenty of times. Captain Borja Fernandez too hasn’t been able to replicate his form of previous seasons, showing that age clearly has taken a toll on his game. Bright spots for Kolkata have been the performances of Sameegh Doutie and to an extent Iain Hume, who although hasn’t been in his best of form, has taken Kolkata out of trouble singlehandedly at times. Another revelation has been Debjit Majumder between the posts, with his flurry of brilliant saves the local boy has been one of ATK’s best performers. Kolkata have qualified and will be in a relaxed mood but would be trying hard for a much needed win to gain a good momentum going into the semis.
Predicted Lineups: Majumder; Das,Mondol,Tiri,Kotal;Borja,Nato,Ralte,Ruidas; Hume,Beloncoso
FC Pune City
The Stallions from Pune were right in contention for a semi final spot but a recent string of two consecutive losses and results elsewhere not going their favour ended all their hopes for a semi final berth. Habas’ men had a tough time this time around and according to the Spaniard a difficult fixture schedule which involved a lot of travelling was partly to blame. Pune roped in Habas for their side after his two brilliant seasons with Atletico de Kolkata, but the Spaniard couldn’t weave his magic with his new side this season. Pune started off their campaign with a loss, which probably set the tone for the rest of the season. They have won just four times this season, drawn two and lost six of their thirteen matches.
Their first setback of the season came when their marquee man Eidur Gudjohnsen was ruled out with an injury, which led to them searching for a new name with very little time. They brought in Mohammed Sissoko as a replacement but the former PSG and Liverpool man failed to make the anticipated impact on the league. Pune had sparks of brilliance every now and again with stints from players like Jonatan Lucca, Tato and Arata Izumi , but these sparks failed to produce the fire necessary to cope with match after match. As they go into their final game of the season with nothing to lose but a sense of pride, Antonio Habas will be hoping to trump his previous employers once again after their 2-1 win against the Kolkata outfit.
Predicted Lineups: Bete; Das,Gourmangi,Ravanan,Bheke;Lucca,Sissoko,Pitu, Lyngdoh, Oberman; Rodriguez
The Hard Tackle predicts Atletico De Kolkata to take their revenege and win against FC Pune City 2-1.