ISL Analysis | A clincal FC Pune thrashes Atletico de Kolkata 4-1

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ISL Media

ISL Analysis | A clincal FC Pune thrashes Atletico de Kolkata 4-1

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Subhayan Dutta


Defending champions Atletico de Kolkata got a reality check at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, as they went down 1-4 to FC Pune on Sunday. Riding on a brace by Marcelinho on either side the half-time, Pune got their first win of the campaign with Rohit Kumar and Emiliano Alfaro also chipping in.

ATK’s lack of plan B could come back to haunt them

Atletico de Kolkata have arguably the most balanced team in the ISL, which comprises the perfect blend of experience and youth, physicality, and skill. However, under new manager, Teddy Sheringham, the defending champions don’t seem to be exploiting the available talent well. Of course, the return of Robbie Keane would be a huge help, but given Atletico’s past fortunes with marquee players, they won’t be too optimistic with him.

With an English coach at the helm, ATK were expecting a similar brand of football that will have more of wing players trying to feed the tall, well-built centre-forward, which in this case was the towering Njazi Kuqi. However, despite the hosts getting in a staggering 28 crosses, most of them to the Finnish striker and later to Robin Singh, their strikers could only manage one shot on target.

ATK’s tactics were quite obvious after fifteen minutes of the first-half and Pune successfully dealt with them time and again. Sheringham, quite surprisingly, had no other plan to try and barring some individual spark from Zequinha, the defending champions were left outwitted on their home turf.

Clumsy defending brings the end of ATK

One of the biggest critiques of ATK this season has been their poor recruitment at the back. After parting ways with Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo, who was one the more significant players in last season’s title win, the defending champions chose to recruit a number of youngsters like Keegan Pereira, Prabir Das, Nallappan Mohanraj, Augustin Fernandes - all of them predominantly full-backs.  However, the youngsters are tremendously inconsistent and it was what cost ATK the game today. But they weren’t the only ones who struggled today. When Arroyo’s direct replacement, Thomas Thorpe, wasn’t having a good day with poor interceptions and clearances, the coach hardly had anyone to fall back on.

A huge area of improvement for Kolkata would be their recovery after they lose the ball up the field and have to organise for a counter attack. Their lost sense of positioning and disastrous inability to cope with aerial duels would be explored repeatedly by opponents if Sheringham doesn’t rectify the problem soon. Barring the one goal that Pune managed to squeeze in from two set-pieces in the whole match, FC Pune have attempted five shots at target putting in four of them, which shows ATK’s atrocious defence. Special mention should be of the full-backs, Prabir Das and Keegan Pereira, whose tracking abilities will come under scanner after today’s game. While Pereira was hugely responsible for FC Pune’s second ball, Das gave away the ball innumerable times.

The showstopper

Without a doubt, Marcelinho was the best player on the pitch today. Coming into the den of the defending champions, FC Pune knew that they wouldn’t get to dominate the game in terms of possession owing to the talented midfield that the hosts possess. As such the plan appeared to be to play on the counter and be clinical in the with their end product. That is where Marcelinho excelled and his display would be the perfect way to sum up his team’s performance today.

The Brazilian didn’t put a foot wrong in the entire game, and whenever ATK’s clumsy defence gave him any sort of space, he accepted the gift with open hands. He had two shots on target, scoring as many goals and although he got only 8% of the touches of what FC Pune got in the whole game, his contribution could be seen in every goal that Pune scored (2 goals & 2 assists).

Marcelinho was the reason Delhi made it all the way to the playoffs last season and if he can maintain these kinds of performances, day in and day out, Pune might just have a chance of making it to the playoffs this time around.

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