Chennai look to break Kolkata jinx in first leg
Chennaiyin FC host Atlético de Kolkata in the first leg of the second semi-final of Hero Indian Super League 2015 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune. The match was moved to Pune after devastating floods in Chennai. Saturday’s mouth-watering fixture promises to be exciting as both sides head into the game on the back of a good run of results. Chennaiyin FC have won each one of their last four encounters, while ATK have won three of their last four matches. However, the reigning champions defeated the Super Machans 3-2 in the inaugural game of the season and then again beat them 2-1 in their second fixture of the league stage. The league’s top-two scorers will also feature in this game with Stiven Mendoza spearheading the southern-outfit’s attack while Iain Hume will be leading the line for the defending champions. The two teams head into the game with no fresh injury concerns, however, Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Elano will both miss the match for Chennai on account of yellow card accumulation.
Form Guide (Last 5 matches)
Chennaiyin FC: L-W-W-W-W
Atlético de Kolkata: D-W-W-W-L
Head-to-head: Chennaiyin FC have never beaten Atlético de Kolkata. The two fixtures last season ended in draws while both matches earlier this year ended in ATK’s favour.
The Colombian hitman missed last year’s semis through injury for Chennai and will be looking to set the record straight this time. He will also look to tighten his grip on the Golden Boot Award. Mendoza will have to shoulder additional responsibility in the absence of Elano, who is suspended for the game. His 11 goals and four assists means that he has been involved in 15 goals – the most by any player in the league.
Tiri will have to bring his A-game on Saturday if he is to contain an electrifying Mendoza. The 24-year-old has been one of ATK’s most impressive players this season and has made 132 clearances – the most by any player from Kolkata. He is also prudent in possession and has a passing accuracy of 82%.
Bruno Pelissari vs Borja Fernandez
Bruno Pelissari will be Chennai’s main creative spark from midfield in the absence of Elano. Pelissari has come to life of late. He was a key player in Chennai’s late surge into the semis. In the three matches he started in the business end of the league stage, Chennaiyin scored 11 goals. The Brazilian youngster has made an assist and scored once this season.
Borja Fernandez’s box-to-box style of play will be vital to ATK’s chances of getting a result in their away leg. The Spaniard’s unique style of play that sees him practically cover every blade of grass on the pitch has been a source of inspiration for Atlético during the league stage. He has provided four assists and made 66 tackles for ATK which is the most by any player from Kolkata. Borja’s screamer against FC Goa also tells us about his scoring ability.
Bernard Mendy vs Iain Hume
Bernard Mendy’s presence in the Super Machans backline has been one of the main reasons why Chennai have the tightest defence of the Hero ISL. The powerful Frenchman has been a commanding figure at the back for Chennaiyin, making 25 tackles and 57 clearances. Mendy, who was the Hero of the Match in Chennai’s last two games, also boasts a brilliant passing accuracy of 87%.
Iain Hume has had a spectacular season for ATK and is second only to Mendoza in goal-scoring charts with 10 goals. The Canadian striker’s never-say-die attitude on the pitch has turned him into a firm fan-favourite. He is also a massive threat from set-pieces and possesses a huge leap that sees him outjump defenders twice his size. Hume’s unselfishness in front of goal has also seen him provide four assists this year.
Last year we won two games against Kerala [in the league stage]. But you all know what happened then [Chennaiyin lost to Kerala in the semis]. The semi-final is a different game. They’re a good team and have an excellent coach and have the right attitude but I think it will be a good game in spite of the result: Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materazzi
It is 50% for us and 50% for Chennai. It’s football. It’s not an advantage for us. It’s 90 minutes of football:ATK head coach Antonio Lopez Habas
Chennaiyin FC: Karanjit Singh, Nidhin Lal, Apoula Edel Bete, Éder Monteiro Fernandes, Justin Stephen, Bernard Mendy, Abhishek Das, Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte, L. Dhanachandra Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Mailson Alves, Alessandro Potenza, Gilbert Oliveira, Elano Blumer (marquee player), Godwin Franco, Thoi Singh, Harmanjot Khabra, Raphael Augusto, Bruno Augusto Pelissari de Lima, Zakeer Mundampara, Manuele Blasi, Fikru Teferra Lamessa, Jayesh Rane, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh, John Stiven Mendoza Valencia
Atlético de Kolkata: Amrinder Singh, Juan Calatayud, Kunzang Bhutia (Lachungpa), Arnab Mondal, Denzil Franco, Nallappan Mohanraj, Syed Rahim Nabi, Dejan Lekic, José Luis Espinosa Arroyo (Tiri), Rino Anto, Lalchhawnkima, Augustin Fernandes, Sheikh Jewel Raja, Clifford Miranda, Borja Fernández, Ofentse Nato, Jaime Gavilan Martinez, Sameehg Doutie, Arata Izumi, Javier ‘Javi’ Lara Grande, Valmiro Lopes Rocha, Baljit Sahni, Nadong Bhutia, Hélder Postiga (marquee player), Sushil Kumar Singh, Iain Hume.
– ISL Media