ISL: War of table toppers as Chennaiyin FC takes on Atletico de Kolkata
Chennai: Captain Luis Garcia is expected to be back to spearhead Atletico de Kolkata's challenge on the road as they gear up to take on Chennaiyin FC and their star marquee player Elano Blumer in a battle of table-toppers in the Indian Super League on Tuesday.
The standout teams so far in the inaugural edition of the football league, Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC occupy the top two spots in the points table.
While Kolkata have three wins and two draws from five games, the Chennai franchise have three victories and a loss in four matches.
Kolkata were held to a draw by Kerala Blasters in their last game but Chennai will be high on confidence after registering a commanding 5-1 win over Mumbai City FC in their last match.
Against Mumbai City FC, the 2006 World Cup winner Materrazi took the field for the first time in the ISL and the home side controlled for most part of the match, often creating openings by applying pressure on the wings.
Elano, the tournament's highest scorer at the moment, and John Mendoza capitalised on these openings to destroy the opponents.
With Materrazi coming onto the field, the Chennai side showed better co-ordination and cohesion in both defence and attack.
Up against Garcia's ATK, who also have Spaniard Borja Fernandez as a defensive midfielder, it would not be as easy as it was against Mumbai for the likes of Elano and Mendoza to regularly foray into the danger zone.
Jeje Lalpekhlua, who had found the net in the last game, is another option upfront for the home team.
Five-time English Premier League winner with Manchester United, Mikael Silvestre of France will bolster Chennaiyin's defence alongside compatriot Bernard Mendy.
Apart from the well-known foreign stars, the squad also comprises of some recognised Indian footballers like N P Pradeep, Gouramangi Singh and Shilton Paul.
Though Fikru will be missed, the good news for ATK is that former Liverpool midfielder Garcia has recovered from his injury to face Materazzi's side.
Garcia had missed the last two matches for the Kolkata side where they picked four points out of a possible six.
The visitors are fit and fresh after coming off a eight-day gap. ATK also have Indian football stars such as Climax Lawrence, Mohammed Rafi, Sanju Pradhan, N Mohanraj and Kingshuk Debnath.
Kolkata will also miss the services of in-form striker Fikru Teferra as he had been handed out a two-match suspension by the the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on disciplinary grounds.
At the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here, Chennaiyin FC have won all their three matches so far, and their marquee manager-cum-captain Marco Materrazi will be very keen to get the better of the tournament's top team on the familiar home turf.