Kolkata: East Bengal FC will eye their first win at home this season after recording their best ever Hero ISL start after six matches as they go up against a well-rested Odisha FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata tomorrow. Odisha are currently three points ahead of East Bengal FC with a game in hand.
Charis Kyriakou has played a vital role in the East Bengal midfield so far. The Cypriot defender-turned-midfielder is his side’s most successful passer this season, averaging 24 successful passes per match, and also has the most shots on target (3).
The morale in the hosts’ camp will be high after they returned home with all three points and a clean sheet against Bengaluru FC last week. However, their defence will have to be at their best to secure points in the next game, as the Torch Bearers have faced the second-most shots (99) and second-most shots on target (27) this season.
“I don’t care about last year or the year before,” said Constantine when asked about the goalfest in the last two seasons against Odisha FC. “They have a very good side that is coached very well by Josep [Gombau], and he has an idea of how he wants the game to be played. We have watched them and prepared for them. I cannot predict the number of goals, but I hope it’s a clean sheet and a win for us,” he added.
A two-week break since their last fixture will have allowed Odisha FC some extra time to recover from their defeat against Hyderabad FC. Only a solitary goal decided the outcome of that match, even as the Juggernauts dominated possession and completed more passes than the defending champions in their own backyard.
No team in the Hero ISL has scored more goals against East Bengal than Odisha FC (15). Keeping that in mind, head coach Josep Gombau would expect his attackers to be clinical in the final third. Diego Mauricio has started every game this season but has failed to score in the last four matches, and failed to get a shot on target in his last two Hero ISL games.
Mauricio was taken off at half-time against Hyderabad FC and replaced with Pedro Martin. The Spanish striker could be in contention to start the game against East Bengal.
“After the Hyderabad game, we had a long break. We got more time to rest, took a few days off and then returned to training,” said Gombau, talking about the break. “We are ready for tomorrow’s game. The team is training very well, and we are all excited to play at this stadium. Hopefully, we will get a good result,” he added.
Odisha FC and East Bengal FC have kept just one clean sheet each this season. The two sides have met four times in the Hero ISL. The Juggernauts have won thrice, while the Torch Bearers won one. In the four games played between these two sides, a staggering total of 28 goals have been scored.
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