Preview: Will FC Goa Overcome A Jaded Atletico De Kolkata?

FC Goa Crest

So, FC Goa will take on the highly physical and masterful Atletico De Kolkata today evening. FC Goa need to attack from the whistle while Atletico De Kolkata will try to quieten the crowd with their momentum killing strategies.

However, I don’t expect FC Goa to stumble in this one like Chennaiyin FC did yesterday. Despite doing all the hard work, Chennaiyin threw it away in the end and I believe that was a combination of multiple things such as an incomplete squad and injuries along with emotional, mental, and physical fatigue.

Why FC Goa Won’t Falter Like Chennaiyin

Kerala Blasters Win against Chennaiyin

Kerala Blasters Win against Chennaiyin

There is a big difference in how Chennaiyin came into their game and how FC Goa are coming into theirs.

Chennaiyin were plagued by injuries and the loss of pace.

They sorely missed Stiven Mendoza yesterday and I think Materazzi would’ve been better off bringing in a pacey striker in instead of a defender like Alessandro Nesta.

I have a feeling the strategy he used yesterday i.e. big burly defenders as an outlet through diagonals, has been in his pocket for a considerable amount of time.

After all, he brought in Nesta for exactly this eventuality. With Mendy and himself playing in forward roles, they would’ve been short on bodies in defence and Nesta solved that problem for him.

FC Goa have no such issues. They don’t have any injuries (as far as I know, correct me if you know something), and their players are all on a high because they haven’t lost a single game in their last 9 games.

Also, Zico has a well-balanced squad at his disposal which is something Materazzi couldn’t rely on. Materazzi had players playing out of positions for a while now. Sooner or later, it had to come back and bite him in the arse and so it did.

Three Times No Cigar; Fourth Time Lucky?

FC Goa vs. Atletico De Kolkata

FC Goa vs. Atletico De Kolkata

FC Goa has played Atletico De Kolkata 3 times already this season and they haven’t managed to notch a single win in those games.

The first match occurred when they were on a poor run, the second was inconsequential for them because they had qualified, and the third was the ISL semi final in which Atletico De Kolkata were set up to frustrate.

I expect Habas the Henchman to continue that trend so it’ll be up to FC Goa to break them down. Even though they haven’t beaten Kolkata till now, they have the capacity to and they showed it in the first leg.

It was FC Goa who were attacking and putting pressure on Kolkata even though Kolkata were playing at home. What’s more, FC Goa essentially did it for most of the 90 minutes.

Atletico De Kolkata’s Negative Strategies

Atletico De Kolkata's Attack Bears Fruit

Atletico De Kolkata’s Attack Bears Fruit

I have to be honest with you. I have a bone to pick with Atletico De Kolkata. My issue with them is their negative and physical style of play.

They are making football look drab, dull, and boring in a country that needs it to be as entertaining as possible right now.

I won’t be surprised if Habas the Henchman is actually setting out to stretch the game into extra time and penalties because that’s the only way he knows his limited team will get one over FC Goa.

In a way it makes sense because I would peg his players to be the fittest in the league after Northeast United FC. FC Goa don’t come close in terms of fitness. So, the longer Kolkata stretches the game the better their chances will be to win.

I would like nothing better for Habas the Henchman to prove me wrong though. I would like nothing better than to see Atletico De Kolkata coming out of the traps like the hounds of hell are after them.

I want them to take the game to the Goans. I want them to show us all the beauty of their football. I am afraid that this is only a pipe dream similar to the pipes and truncheons that aggressive players from Kolkata will be carrying.

I have one thing to say to Atletico De Kolkata players and senior management. Please, oh pretty please; come out of the lockers to play football not some Aztec version of the game. There’s no place for tlachtli in India please.

What’s The Status of the Two Squads?

Narayan Das Keeps Good Company

Narayan Das Keeps Good Company

FC Goa seem to have most of their players ready and raring to go except for Narayan Das.

He’s ruled out for this game because he got injured early in the last match.

This means that Zico will have to deploy Zohib Amiri, the way he did in the middle of the last game.

I see only one other left sided defender in the Goan team and I doubt that Zico will want to use Andre Santos in that capacity.

While FC Goa’s squad is mostly fit, Atletico De Kolkata’s is in some sort of a trouble. Habas the Henchman has revealed that Fikru Lemessa won’t be available for the second leg just like he wasn’t available for the first one.

Fikru Unavailable

Fikru Unavailable

This means that they don’t have his physicality to rely on. Also, there may be a few other injuries in their squad. Who it is exactly is still not clear.

Although, I think the coach may be referring to Arnab Mondal and Biswajit Saha who were missing the last time out.

While they have four other strikers in their squad, I would expect either Mohammad Rafi or Baljit Sahni to lead the attack. Apart from that, expect Luis Garcia and Borja to start in the middle of pitch just the way they did in Kolkata.

On the flip side, I don’t think we’ll see Sanju Pradhan again as he looked slightly off his game in the first leg. Habas the Henchman may choose to replace him with Cavin Lobo who showed some special enthusiasm when he came on in the last game.

In the end, the Kolkata team’s makeup depends entirely upon the situation with their defenders. If they come back then that’ll free up Ofentse Nato and Lester Fernandez. If this happens then Nato would automatically slot into midfield in the place of Rakesh Masih.

FC Goa’s Rockets and Atletico De Kolkata’s Handbrake

Artificial Turf vs. Natural Grass

Artificial Turf vs. Natural Grass

FC Goa will want to grab the initiative early in this game. They know they have the advantage of playing at home and they’ll want to leverage it as much as possible.

They didn’t have this when playing in Kolkata. However, a bigger problem for the ball playing team of FC Goa was the artificial turf that Kolkata chooses to call a football pitch.

They have a nice, warm, humid climate in Kolkata, you know. The kind of climate that is perfect for growing grass. I wish they would take their position as the home of Indian football a little more seriously and promote the damn game.

I do get a little worked up that a region so full of football fans doesn’t know good football or good pitch. More importantly, artificial turf isn’t good for players’ fitness either. It magnifies the jolts on joints such as knees.

You know how they say that you should jog on mud or grass (Kaccha stuff) as opposed to concrete tracks for the benefit of your joints? Well, artificial turf and natural grass is a bit like that. The former look pretty but the latter function better.

However, if you were to create a hybrid of synthetic fiber and natural grass then it takes on the qualities of both artificial turf and natural grass. Many leading football stadiums in the world use such hybrids. Perhaps, Kolkata should consider this as well and not get caught in financials?

Coming back to the point, FC Goa will have the natural surface to play on again and I expect them to dominate because of it.

Atletico De Kolkata will want to prevent that, obviously, and they are masters at doing that. They have this low key and subtle way of taking the bite out of the game. They’ll rotate fouls and freekicks while slowing the game when they have possession.

They’re very good at pulling the handbrakes on another team’s momentum. Keep an eye out for this one and you’ll see it for yourself. This one will be another one of those attack vs. defence affairs.