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ISL Preview: Atletico push for semi-final spot as Pune look to improve form

Photo courtesy: ISL
Photo courtesy: ISL

Atletico de Kolkata play hosts to Pune City FC in the 48th game of the Hero Indian Super League, with the Bengal Tigers looking to book a place in the semi-finals of the competition.

Atletico, who emerged triumphant in the inaugural campaign of the ISL, had a pretty shaky start to the new season, recording two narrow wins and a draw in their first three games.

Things became even worse for the Sourav Ganguly co-owned team as they suffered successive defeats in their next three games against Pune City, NorthEast United and Delhi Dynamos.

However, a late run of good results has seen Atletico climb back to the top of the Indian Super League, and now Antonio López Habas’ side are right on course to qualify for the semis.

Still, they will need to get maximum points from their last two games if they are to guarantee themselves a place in the playoffs of the ISL. This is because the gap between the first six teams – Atletico de Madrid, FC Goa, Delhi Dynamos, NorthEast United, Chennayin and Pune City – is too narrow for anyone’s comfort and a single bad result could prove costly.

Photo courtesy: ISL
Photo courtesy: ISL

Pune City FC, meanwhile, will also be under pressure to win their remaining games as they are currently in fifth place, just a point below Chennaiyin FC.

Although they still have a good chance of making it to the last four, their recent run of form has been worrisome.

The Stallions have failed to record a single victory in their last five matches following a pretty decent start to the season.

Their last victory came against the Kerala Blasters in late October, but since then they have only managed to pick up 3 points from a possible 15.

The Hrithik Roshan co-owned team were able to record a narrow 1-0 win over Atletico de Kolkata when the two sides met at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex earlier this season.

However, they will certainly find it difficult to repeat this feat considering Atletico’s current form and the fact that they are playing away from home.

Nevertheless, Pune City, who finished in sixth place last season, will certainly be giving their best at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday as they look to make it to their first ISL semi-final.

Players to watch out for

Canadian striker Ian Hum, who is Atletico’s leading goal-scorer with six goals so far this season, will probably be the key player for the Bengal team against Pune City on Friday.

South African winger Sameehg Doutie, who has also been very impressive this season, is the other player to watch out for.

Former Chelsea and Juventus striker Adrian Mutu will be expected to perform For Pune FC on Friday even though he hasn’t been doing that well this season, managing only two goals so far.

Pune city will also be counting on former Cardiff City and Wolves defender Roger Johnson, who has been impressive at the back this season.

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