ISL Analysis | Atletico de Kolkata churn out slim win over beefy Mumbai City FC

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ISL

ISL Analysis | Atletico de Kolkata churn out slim win over beefy Mumbai City FC

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Subhayan Dutta

12/17/2017

Atletico de Kolkata finally got their first win (1-0) of the campaign following a hard fought battle against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena. The visitors hung by the string of a thread as Mumbai unleashed a late onslaught but couldn’t break through the unshakeable defence.

ATK v Mumbai - a battle between two bulls

Brute strength and sturdy built are the main components that characterize a bull, and the game between Mumbai and Kolkata pretty much felt like two such animals locking horns at regular intervals. No matter how witty their moves were, or how impeccable the passes were, it all ended with some player physically domineering the other and keeping the ball away from danger. Both sides focused more on shoring up their defence and looked to score mainly from set-pieces or crosses.

The only way the lackluster play could bear a fruit was from a mistake, which Mumbai finally committed in the second-half to give ATK a lead. The game also lacked any will to win from either sides whatsoever, to try something new to get goals. Both Teddy Sheringham and Alexandre Guimaraes have rejected to experiment with different avenues despite having a dry patch in front of the goal so far. The speed-less games came to life only when the ball was in the air and most of the 41 fouls that the game saw were from it. The constant tackles only led to continuous interruptions in the game with the referee showing enough patience initially, before ending the game with eight yellow cards.

Are things finally falling into places for the defending champions?

Teddy Sheringham came into the game facing fierce criticism after he failed to win a single game in his first four matches in charge. His tactics had been discarded as too hackneyed by the critics with almost every opponent pretty much reading through their game even before they can even make their moves. However, the introduction of Robbie Keane has not only come as a welcome sight for sore eyes, but it appears it has also rejuvenated the two-time Champions. 

Now, with Ryan Taylor coming into the fore along with Keane, it appears that the pieces are finally falling into place for the defending champions. While the counter-attacking approach, for the most part, was ineffective due to Robin Singh’s limited movements up top, Kolkata did look dangerous whenever the foreign imports got involved. While the former Newcastle man exhibited his ability to create chances from almost anywhere of the field, Keane showed his ability to hit the target using both his legs with equal dexterity.

The new lease of life up front combined with unshakeable spine of Conor Thomas, Rupert Nongrum, and Tom Thorpe, could make ATK a serious contender for a spot in the top four, if they can keep getting some goals.

The Showstopper

Though it was Zequinha’s solo effort down the left flank that led to the scrappy goal - the only one of the game - one cannot deny the impeccable deliveries of Ryan Taylor that forced Mumbai to defend in numbers. Every time the 33-year-old send in a curling cross into the box, the Mumbai defence looked at sixes and sevens.

It started as early as the fifth minute when the former England Under-21 international sent in a juicy ball into the box but ATK’s Irishman failed to make a telling contact with the ball. His next dead ball, four minutes later, almost forced Rafa Jorda to put it into his own net. Thorpe, too, had almost a goal in the 17th minute, that brought the best out of Amrinder Singh, who had to come up with a full stretch save to keep the scoreline level. Deliveries like this continued throughout the game and it was a pity that Kolkata couldn’t get a free-kick within 30 yards of Mumbai’s goal because with the kind of form he was showing in Mumbai, only a brave man would bet against him. Standing in midfield, Taylor also made 3 interceptions with a respectable 60% passing accuracy.

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