Fresh from their Kolkata derby win, ATK Mohun Bagan will aim to continue their red-hot form in the Indian Super League when they take on Odisha FC at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa. It has been a contrasting season for both the teams so far, while the Mariners have won both their matches and kept consecutive clean sheets, Odisha are yet to register a win and have conceded three goals in two matches.
For ATKMB, a third-straight win on Thursday would put them on top of the table. While an upset win for OFC would propel them to the top half of the table.
Odisha FC came from behind to secure their first point of the campaign against Jamshedpur FC but there will be concerns over their backline that has appeared shaky. Stuart Baxter's side has conceded 29 shots so far, joint-most by a team this season.
ATK Mohun Bagan on the other hand have been thriving off their counter-attacking play with three goals in two games in what has been a perfect start to their Hero ISL campaign. The side has an average possession of 40% which is the joint-least by a team while their average passes per match of 237.5 is also the lowest by a team this season.
Roy Krishna, with two goals in as many games, will look to continue his fine form. Antonio Habas' side, having scored all their goals from open play, will once again aim to hit their opponents on counter-attacks. Baxter is, however, well aware of this and wants his side to keep things tight at the back.
"You respect them because they have good and experienced players," Baxter said. "While throwing players forward, we're aware of the fact that, in transition, they get into the game quickly when we're spread out. It's up to the players on the day to make sure we take away the spaces they want and we defend well one-versus-one."
Odisha FC will also have to be effective at the front as they face a side who are yet to concede a goal this season. The Kolkata giants have allowed only two shots on target this season, having faced 24 shots in two matches. This can be put down to the immense experience in their backline, with Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal and Tiri boasting a total of 229 ISL appearances.
"The idea is to attack and defend," Habas had said after their derby win against SC East Bengal. "This is football and we attack and defend during transitions. This is an idea for us. I don't understand football as an only attack or only defence." After netting a brace coming off the bench against Jamshedpur, Odisha striker Diego Mauricio could be in line for a start. Baxter will also hope forward Marcelinho regains his form, with the Brazilian having struggled so far.