Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], January 27 (ANI): Two points separate ATK Mohun Bagan and Odisha FC as the two sides go toe-to-toe in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday. The sides are occupying the last two playoff spots, and the victor will be able to establish a safety cushion, leaving the other vulnerable to the teams chasing the final playoff spot.
The primary aim for fifth-placed ATK Mohun Bagan this season is to finish third - a spot they can reclaim with a win against Odisha FC. However, the Mariners have won only one out of their last five ISL games. Additionally, ATK Mohun Bagan have also failed to score in four of their last five matches.
Last week, head coach Juan Ferrando had to settle for a point after his side's goalless draw against Chennaiyin FC. That result followed a narrow 1-0 defeat at home against Mumbai City FC. This season, the Mariners have never gone three consecutive games without a win.
At home, ATK Mohun Bagan have been solid, winning five out of seven games in their backyard. The return of Glan Martins on loan from FC Goa has strengthened the Mariners' midfield behind the prolific striker Dimitri Petratos, who has scored five goals and assisted six in 13 ISL games this season.
"It is an important match. We are ready for the game. Our mentality is always the same and that is to get three points. It is a good opportunity to show our character and try to do our best because we play against a very good team that will finish in the top six, according to me," Ferrando said in a official statement released by ISL.
"They have very good players and for most of the season, they were fighting in the top four. It won't be an easy match tomorrow for sure," he added.
The Juggernauts have won just one game in their last six. With Bengaluru FC's promising charge for the final playoff spot, Odisha FC will be eager to increase their three-point advantage over the Blues.
Before heading into the break, the Juggernauts were in action against Bengaluru FC and suffered a 3-1 defeat. Head coach Josep Gombau will have a revitalised squad at his disposal along with the new addition of Aniket Jadhav, who was signed from East Bengal FC last week.
Midfielder Saul Crespo is likely to start in the middle of the park and could be the marker for Hugo Boumous if he features. Crespo has been a staunch anchor in Odisha FC's midfield this season a battle between him and Boumous will be an interesting one to watch. Up front, Diego Mauricio is expected to start. The Brazilian has eight goals and four assists in 14 games.
"We had a gap after the game in Bengaluru. Now it is time to concentrate on the last six games, which are the most important games of the season. We have to try and finish in the playoff spots," said Gombau. "That is the aim for all teams in contention. We are working hard to get the best out of the last six games starting in Kolkata on Saturday," he added.
Odisha FC have never beaten ATK Mohun Bagan in the ISL. The two have met on five occasions before and the Mariners have won twice, while the last three encounters have ended in draws. (ANI)