Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal Match Preview
“A historic derby match. A match which has meanings way beyond football. Of course football is supreme””It’s fight for honour. It’s a lot more than just 3 points.”
East Bengal meets Mohun Bagan this Sunday in what looks set to prove a crucial game in both teams’ season. Many derbies and rivalries may come and go but the charisma of this derby can never ever fade away.
Mohun Bagan started the campaign positively and on a high note too, securing impressive victories over the likes of Shillong Lajong FC, Aizwal, and Churchill Brothers to secure the pole position in I-League. But a sudden dip in performance and a series of draws and losses have provided a big blow to their title chances. But Mohun Bagan have quickly recovered from that bad phase by registering thumping victories over Bengaluru FC and Abahani LTD. DHAKA in the I-LEAGUE and AFC CUP 2017 respectively. However, it remains to be seen if their good form is a temporary revival or a genuine sign of long-term improvement.
East Bengal on the other hand made a rather dismal start but they have managed to recover on time to make amendments and send a strong message to the other teams.
Consequently, this weekend’s derby is one of opportunity for both sides. But it will also be an intensely tactical affair. East Bengal are sitting on the second position in table with 27 points from 14 matches, 3 points behind leader Aizwal. On the other hand Mohun Bagan are sitting on the 3rd position with 26 points from 13 games, 1 less than their bitter rivals East Bengal.
Date: April 9, 2017
Time: 7:05 P.M. IST
Venue: Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri, West Bengal, INDIA
Broadcast: TEN 2
If Mohun Bagan are to win against East Bengal on Sunday and go an to re-claim the I-LEAGUE title, they will need their dynamic midfield duo of Sony Norde and Katsumi Yusa to be at their best in the remaining five matches. Their playing styles may be as different as chalk and cheese but the Haitian and the Japanese combine well with each other. When they are on song, the Green and Maroon are hard to stop.
While Sony is one of the most skillful players in Indian club football with the ability to change the complexity of a match in a matter of minutes, Katsumi is consistency personified. His game might not be as eye-catching as the Haitian’s but the Bagan captain works tirelessly and controls the midfield. When he is not in the attacking third, laying it off for the strikers or looking to score, you will find him falling back to win the ball back or dropping deep to help out the defenders.
Playing on the flanks, Sony and Katsumi not only utilise the width of the field and allow Bagan to spread their game but they also have the ability to link-up well with the strikers and whip in incisive crosses.
It remains to be seen that who will get a nod in the starting 11 in the strikers role. Jeje Lalpekhlua is in the form of his life and I am sure that the East Bengal will not be foolish enough to write him off. He can be labelled as the Indian version of Suarez or Lewandowski. Balwant Singh is another prominent name. His performances against BFC and Abahani LTD. Dhaka were mind-boggling. He can change the course of the match too.
But the name on everybody’s lips is DUFFY. Roped in by Mohun Bagan following his high goal scoring exploits with Salgoacar FC in the last two seasons, Darryl Duffy has turned out to be somewhat of an enigma. He has settled down well the Green and Maroons and has scored 7 goals for his new team in the I-League, but he has so far blown hot and cold. Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen, however, is convinced that the former Salgoacar FC striker – in spite of his inconsistency – is the right man for the job.
When East Bengal unveiled Wedson Anselme as their prize catch at the start of the season, after having persued him in vain for the past three seasons, the Haitian international was hailed as the missing link in the red-and-golds’ search for the elusive I-League crown. The 31 year old took no time to make his influence count, scoring in his second match – a 2-1 win in Pune against DSK Shivajians – and went on to boost his tally to six with a hat-trick against Minerva Punjab FC.
However, his last goal – probably the best of his six – against Bengaluru FC, came at a heavy price. He set up a memorable 3-1 victory over the defending champions but suffered a groin injury in the process on 25th February which ruled out of action until now.
Although Bengal coach, Trevor Morgan has been insisting on not rushing Wedson’s return to action, he can ill-afford to leave Wedson out of the equation on Sunday, especially after the player demonstrated his match fitness by scoring against East Bengal’s junior side in a practise match on Wednesday.
With odds heavily stacked against the red and golds, Plaza’s performance holds the key to the teams fortunes in their remaining four games. He has been quite a revelation for EB this season. Plaza is currently joint second – along with Mohun Bagan’s Darryl Duffy – in the I-LEAGUE scorer’s list with seven goals. East Bengal need Plaza’s predatory skills as they look to go for broke in quest for the title.
Team News & Likely Line-ups
Injury will force Mohun Bagan midfielder Pronay Halder and left-back Subhasish Bose out of Sunday’s clash against East Bengal in Siliguri. Goalkeeper Shilton Paul will also miss out because of injury. Shibinraj Kunniyil will be the second choice goalkeeper. Azharuddin Mallick and Pintu Mahata are the two U-23 players in the squad.
Debjit, Raju, Kingshuk, Edu, Anas, Pritam, Katsumi, Souvik, Bikram, Sehnaj, Sony, Duffy, Azharuddin ( U-23 )
In the February 12 derby, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen had not shield away from fielding a half-fit Sony Norde, realising the importance of the match. Morgan could adopt a similar approach with Wedson on Sunday in order to give his team a much-needed boost
Rehenesh, Bheke-Gurwinder, Bukenya, Narayan, Romeo, Mehtab, Wedson, Abinash, Plaza, Payne
HEAD to HEAD
So far, out of the 359 derbies played between Mohun Bagan A.C. and East Bengal ( including exhibition matches ) Mohun Bagan won 114 games, East Bengal won 127 games and 118 of the games have ended in a draw