FC Pune City vs. Atletico Kolkata Review: FCPC Beat ATK; Top League


So, you’ll be getting a downsized review of the match between FCPC and ATK today. The reason is that a moped driving ATK fan (I am guessing an ATK fan since it was in a Bengali dominated neighbourhood in Delhi) ran into my tank of a bike today. I mean my bike didn’t even wobble and all I did was lifted up my left leg to allow the speeding “mopeder” hit my gear lever.

The guy fell so I had to stop or it would’ve been hit and run except that I was hit and I would’ve run. By the way, in case you’re wondering, my “tank of a bike” is a Pulsar 200. What can I say, when you go against a moped, every bike is a tank of a bike, even a Boxer.

As for those of you who are whiny and have a self-entitled attitude, please feel free to complain to the ISL Blog customer service centre against this humble blogger. I agree with you by the way. Today’s amateur bloggers are virtually useless. They disappear when they want, have battles with mopeds whenever they want. I mean you must want your money back… oops. Well, complain anyway, maybe you’ll get 100% refund!

ATK Were Already Down To FCPC

FCPC - Jackichand Singh

FCPC – Jackichand Singh
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

By the time I sat down, six minutes were already over so there won’t be any team news today except whatever I deign to mention during the rest of the report.

You can take this up with the ISL Blog customer service centre too.

More importantly, by the time I started watching, ATK were already a goal down.

From what I heard from the commentators, it was a special goal from Jackichand Singh. I promptly went and checked the replays and found that the finish was very sweet.

The ball came to Jackichand who finished it well first time itself. He came in running off the shoulder of the last defender and hit the ball with his left leg across the goalkeeper into the far corner of the goal. FCPC 1 – 0 ATK

FCPC Run Rampant Over ATK

FCPC - Yendrick Ruiz

FCPC – Yendrick Ruiz
Credit: Vipin Pawar / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

From the time I joined the country in watching this match, I saw FCPC in the ascendancy but at the same time, ATK weren’t looking fazed.

FCPC were rampant for the next 15 minutes but ATK looked very mature to me in the way they were handling the pressure.

The moment I wrote that, ATK started playing like schoolboys. First, Borja Fernandez took out Tuncay just inside the box which should’ve been a penalty.

That was followed by a FCPC double chance.

FCPC countered with Sanli Tuncay showing some great skill on the ball. He crossed the ball from the right to Yendrick Ruiz who nodded the ball goalwards from point-blank range. His header, however, was blocked off by a defender. The ball then fell to Jackichand also in point-blank range. He also headed the ball goalwards but it was against blocked by a defender with his chin.

The Game Gets Disrupted

FCPC - Sanli Tuncay

FCPC – Sanli Tuncay
Credit: Pal Pillai / ISL/ SPORTZPICS

The game got disrupted after that period of FCPC domination.

It began with Lenny Rodriguez getting injured and substituted for Bikash Jairu.

This was followed by a period with constant possession changes and breakup in play.

ATK seemed to be targetting Tuncay particularly too.

Even so, both teams were guilty of fouling pointlessly but I think that strategy was more in favour of FCPC than ATK. ATK needed momentum while FCPC needed disruption. I wonder why ATK were doing that.

Could it be a natural reversion to type? In fact, the evidence was all over the game. Despite the disruptions, FCPC’s attacks were more potent. There was only one good chance of note from ATK in that period and that too was a snapshot from a very acute angle.

Strange Tactical Decision From Habas Begins Second Half

ATK - Jaime Gavilan

ATK – Jaime Gavilan

The second half began with a substitution from Habas the Henchman. He took off Javier Lara, who had an indifferent first half, and brought on Jaime Gavilan. Look, I don’t know how Gavilan all that well.

What I do know is that he is more of a complete midfielder as opposed to Lara who is an out and out attacking midfielder.

I think Habas felt that his team were losing the game in the midfield so he tried to fortify the middle of the pitch. However, in my eyes, it didn’t make jack of a different.

For a good part of the early second half, FCPC were all over the ATK half. They were attacking from all possible directions.

In fact, ATK were having trouble getting out of their half and hacking the ball out doesn’t count!

Broken Open Play With Multiple Fouls And Substitutions

ATK - Sameehg Doutie

ATK – Sameehg Doutie
Credit: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

15 minutes into the second half and with FCPC still dominating, Jackichand started struggling on the pitch.

FCPC put Manish Maithani on for their goal scorer.

This must’ve been a shot in the arm for ATK because they no longer had to worry about the effervescent pace of Jackichand.

ATK made their change at the same time as well.

Whether the change was due to the removal of Jackichand making ATK more confident or it was part of the tactical plan is up to you to decide.

ATK brought on Sameehg Doutie, an attacking player, and took off Ofentse Nato, a defensive player. That substitution was followed by the entrance of Sushil Kumar Singh for Nadong Bhutia.

A Rare Chance For Hume And ATK

ATK - Iain Hume

ATK – Iain Hume

There was a good chance for Iain Hume, probably his first, in the 80th minute. It was an acute angle but it was still the best chance ATK had had till then.

Hume received the ball inside the box on the right from an even more right sided player, Doutie. He got a shot off and tried to squeeze the ball under the keeper but Steve Simonsen’s knee blocked it.

FCPC continued their onslaught with Lyngdoh’s freekicks continuing to cause ATK trouble.

Lyngdoh dropped the ball into the middle of the box onto the head of Adrian Mutu (who had come on earlier). However, Mutu could only head the ball over the crossbar.

A similar chance fell to Borja in the 90th minute from a corner. Borja put the free header over the crossbar a la Mutu.

Tactical Analysis: First Impressions + Projections

Habas the Henchman gave too much respect to FCPC. I think a very subtle thread of fear took hold of ATK even before they came to Pune because they didn’t play with any freedom at all. Their game play was almost always cautious. When that happens, the passing becomes slower, more deliberate, and hence less effective.

What that does is dries up the supply for the striker. When the passing is slow, the defence finds it easier to make interceptions and players are not encouraged to move into open positions and tactical holes. As a result, the defence is never pressured. You tell me, how many good chances did ATK have in that game?

How do I know that ATK showed too much respect to FCPC? Well, you don’t play two defensive minded midfielders if you’re not scared of the other team. ATK played Borja and Nato both in the same midfield. Is it a wonder that Iain Hume got no service whatsoever from ATK midfield?

On top of this, Habas the Henchman decided to take off an attacker for a slightly less attacking midfielder. Then, he kept Adil Nabi off and brought on Sushil Kumar Singh and Doutie. Even after those substitutions, you could see ATK passing the ball side to side but when they passed it forward, turnovers were the result.

FCPC won because of three players. Jackichand Singh because of his pace and trickery. Those skills made are partly the reason why ATK deployed two defensive midfielders. The second player was Sanli Tuncay. Tuncay’s skills include heading, tenaciousness, and trickery with the ball. He was another reason for the two defensive midfielders.

Finally, the third player was Didier Zokora who gave FCPC’s defence backbone and gumption. Even in the 94th minute, it was Zokora who was clearing crosses and harassing passers. Another player who deserves a mention here is Eugeneson Lyngdoh, whose set piece skills are truly marvellous.