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ISL Preview: Chennai eye repeat performance; Kolkata look to do the impossible

Photo Courtesy: ISL's official website
Photo Courtesy: ISL’s official website

Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC take on each other in the second leg semifinal of the 2015 ISL, as both sides look to book a date with FC Goa in the final of the competition.

Atletico de Kolkata

The defending champions have a very difficult task ahead of them in second leg as they need to overturn a three goal deficit on Wednesday, following a heavy defeat in Pune in the first leg.

Kolkata were dismal in the first leg as they failed to cope with Chennaiyin’s dominance. Although they created a fair number of chances in the first leg, Antonio Lopez Habas’ men failed to find the back of the net due to a combination of bad luck and poor finishing.

The Royal Bengal Tigers were especially poor at the back in Pune, as the Chennaiyin attackers – Jeje Lalpekhlua, Stiven Mendoza and Bruno Pelissari – craved open their defence. After their captain Borja Fernandez forced out of the pitch due to an injury in the 42nd minute, Kolkata became even more vulnerable at the back.

Betters will certainly not be putting their money on Atletico de Kolkata to progress to the ISL finals as the defending champions’ chances of overturning a three goal deficit are pretty slim. Even if Kolkata manage to score three goals at the Salt Lake stadium on Wednesday, it is unlikely that they will be able to keep a clean sheet.

To make things even more difficult, Kolkata will be without the services of Borja Fernandez and Ofentse Nato in the second leg, with both players getting ruled out due to injuries.

Despite the odds being heavily stacked against them, Kolkata boss Habas insists that his side will be giving their best in the second leg.

“I’m planning every day; it’s about attack, attack and defend. We have 90 minutes to win the game. We have to find a way to win the game,” the Spaniard told ISL’s official website. “In 90 minutes, many things can happen. I’m planning to attack and attack and not let the opponents have the ball.”

Chennaiyin FC

The Super Machans, on the other hand, will be pretty relaxed ahead of this fixture due to their three goal advantage from the first leg.

Strikes from Chennaiyin’s attacking trio Pelissari, Jeje and Mendoza saw the MS Dhoni co-owned side ease past the defending champions in the first leg in Pune.

Marco Materazzi’s side dominating performance in the first leg was especially impressive considering the fact that were without their key players including Elano Blumer, Eder and Alessandro Potenza.

Chennaiyin, who were at the bottom of the table in mid-November following three successive defeats against FC Goa (0-2), NorthEast United (1-2),  and Atletico de Kolkata (1-2), have been playing very well of late, recording back-to-back wins in their last five games.

Although the Marina Machans place in the final is all but guaranteed, Materazzi insists that the game is still not won and his side will not be taking the second leg lightly.

“I am aware that we can be surprised. So we are not taking the game lightly. We should not forget that Atletico are still the champions,” the former Italy defender told ISL’s official website.

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