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ISL: Kerala Blasters vs Atletico de Kolkata - What we can expect - Preview and Prediction

Gupta Vishal
ANALYST
Preview
3.41K   //    20 Nov 2014, 23:22 IST
Kerala Blasters host Atletico de Kolkata in a top of the table fixture in the ISL

A resurgent Kerala Blasters lock horns with an in-form Atletico de Kolkata team in Match 37 of the Hero Indian Super League. Although both sides are riding high on the back of comfortable wins, the Blasters would look to upset Atletico, who sits four points above them, and solidify their claims for a place in the coveted top four.

Venue and Kickoff

Kochi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is arguably one of the loudest stadiums in the country. The Keralites have flocked in huge numbers wearing their colours to support their team, and have been highly vocal. Flaunting stadium attendances of more than thirty thousand, Kerala Blasters would look to ride the wave of momentum generated by their enthusiastic fan support.

Kickoff: 7PM IST

Probable Lineups

Kerala Blasters (4-3-3): David James, Sandesh Jhingan, Cedric Hengbart, Gurwinder Singh, Nirmal Chhetri, Penn Orji, Stephen Pearson, Godwin, Iain Hume, Milagres Gonsalves, CS Sabeeth.

A 1-0 win against Delhi Dynamos, courtsey of a Penn Orji strike, elevated the Blasters to a comfortable third. The Blasters are likely to use their tested formation of 4-3-3, which was used very effectively against Delhi. 

David James is expected to lead the Kerala Blasters, while slotting in as the last line of defense. Standout performer Sandesh Jhigan is expected to operate in a right-back role with the center-back pairing of Cedric Hengbart and Gurwinder Singh deployed alongside him. 

Stephen Pearson is another player responsible for Kerala's amazing turn of fate. The Scottish international has been very effective ever since he shifted to the centre of midfield, where he has dominated games. Penn Orji is expected to make a comeback into the team and replace Romey. 

The attacking trio of CS Sabeeth, Iain Hume and Milagres Gonsalves is likely to start as the trio pressed from higher up the park against Delhi Dynamos, and would look to ruin Atletico's chances by doing the same. 

Atletico de Kolkata (4-2-3-1): Roy, Sahni, Arnab Mondal, Josemi, Mohan, Borja, Oftense Nato, Luis Garcia, Jofre, Lester, Fikru.

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There cannot be a shadow of doubt that Luis Garcia has been the standout performer for Atletico de Kolkata. Riding on the back of a Garcia goal, the Sourav Ganguly franchisee defeated NorthEast United and would be looking to inflict the same fate on Kerala. 

Subhasis Roy who has been solid so far, is expected to start as the guardian between the sticks. The resolute defensive pairing of Arnab Mondal and Josemi is once against expected to start and would look to restrict the Kerala forwards.

Midfield is perhaps Kolkata's area of expertise, as the visitors would be lining up an attacking trio in front of two defenisve pivots. Luis Garcia, is again expected to dictate the flow of the game and provide Fikru with chances. 

Fikru is expected to continue as the lone striker. Operating right up top, Fikru has been sensational so far and has thrived on the ammunition provided by Garcia. 

Probable line-ups: Kerala Blasters vs Atletico de Kolkata

Key Battles

Cedric Hengbart vs Fikru 

In an encounter which would see the pace, trickery and finesse of Fikru versus the class and experience of Cedric Hengbart, the defender would look to rue Fikru’s goal scoring chances by engaging the latter in a tough physical battle. 

Stephen Pearson vs Luis Garcia

Both Stephen Pearson and Luis Garcia have been the standout performers for their corresponding sides, and with Luis Garcia playing as a creative midfielder while Pearson stays deep, an interesting tactical battle is set to take place in midfield. 

Predictions

Kerala Blasters 0–2 Atletico de Kolkata 

Although Kerala Blasters might pose a diffcult away challenge for the visitors, the skill, quality and talent due to the presence of game changers such as Fikru and Luis Garcia, would sway the momentum in favour of Atletico de Kolkata. A resounding performance should be rewarded in the form of a comfortable win for the visitors.

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