The battle on international waters is over and the troops will return to honour their domestic commitments as the Indian Super League enters its fifth matchday. ATK sit at the top of the table, having won three of their last four encounters and will be travelling to Pune where Odisha FC awaits with a stiff challenge.
It will be interesting to witness Odisha’s Aridane Santana and ATK’s David Williams going toe-to-toe to extend their goal tally and take their teams through. But the highlight of the matchday is a monumental encounter between Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters where Indian captain Sunil Chhetri look to move past his disappointing performance in the World Cup qualifier against Oman and secure a win for his club.
South Indian derby to garner all the headlines
A cracker of a fixture at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium between Bengaluru and Kerala is set to leave the temperatures soaring. Chhetri, who has endured a quiet season so far, having registered a single goal, will look to unleash his full potential against Odisha.
He will be assisted by Erik Paartalu who seems to be on a good run of form after a spectacular goal in a 3-0 victory over Chennaiyin FC. Although head coach Carles Cuadrat’s side hasn’t lost any match so far, they have dropped significant points courtesy of three frustrating draws in four encounters.
On the other hand, their rival, the Blasters have been dealing with their defensive issues, having conceded more goals than what they have scored in the tournament so far. Their Nigerian forward Bartholomew Ogbeche has scored two out of the three goals that the team has scored overall this season. This game will surely be closely contested and the balance of power might shift in anyone’s favour.
Battle on the Eastern front
Odisha’s first home game of the season will be played in Pune against league leaders and two-time champions, ATK who are inadvertently tipped to get the better of the sixth-placed Odisha. It is a star-studded affair in the Indian Super League as leading goalscorers of the campaign, Williams and Santana will be gunning to add more to their name and propel their respective sides to a well-deserved victory.
ATK’s attacking prowess consists of Roy Krishna and Edu Garcia as well who led the charge from the front in their conquest over Jamshedpur FC in the last game. Odisha have been struggling to get their foot in as they’ve only managed a single victory in the season and have been heavily reliant on Santana to help them out of trouble. Given ATK’s relentlessness, Odisha might find it difficult to charge through.
An affair of the misfits
The ongoing ISL season hasn’t been kind to both Hyderabad FC and Chennaiyin FC as they both rest at the bottom of the table. Chennai will be looking up to their Lithuanian forward, Nerijus Valskis to score their first goal of the season while Hyderabad, having conceded the most goals in the league (10), will look to airtight their defence and extend their goal-scoring spree.
The Brazilian Marcelinho Leite Pereira has been the only ray of hope for Hyderabad having netted two across four matches, but the 32-year-old will require a lot more out of his teammates to keep Chennai at the bottom of the table.
In the other matches from the week, a feast of goals is also expected in the fixture between FC Goa and Jamshedpur when Ferran Corominas and Sergio Castel, both tied at three goals in the tournament so far will face off in a battle that is expected to turn the tides. Goa are currently the third unbeaten team in the tournament so far and will look to keep off from any sight of losing.
NorthEast United FC host Mumbai City FC who will be eager to bounce back from two consecutive home defeats but the prospect of an attacking NorthEast side at home will be a big challenge to overcome. NorthEast United are also undefeated so far and will expect nothing less than to pounce on a struggling Mumbai side.
Featured image courtesy: Twitter/@Kerala Blasters