ISL 2017: Pune City vs ATK Match Preview

Atletico De Kolkata

Saturday Night Football is back this week with a serving of Pune City versus ATK in a game that is sure to get the juices flowing. In something which will shock no one, this game is hard to call as Pune can move to within a point of Chennaiyin in second with a win or ATK can jump three places to fifth which put them a point behind their hosts this evening. So, without further ado, let’s see what’s gonna be happening tonight…

Last time out…

Pune were dealt a late sucker-punch away at Chennaiyin as they fell to John Gregory’s side. Pune will be the ones who will look back on the opening twenty minutes and know that they should have made their spell of dominance pay. Popovic’s side squandered a one on one which was then cleared, Ashique should have scored, Diego hit the underside of the bar and that wasn’t even half of it. The match pendulum went back in favour of Chennaiyin as they were awarded a penalty after a daft tackle from Adil Khan on Gregory Nelson gave Rene Mihelic the chance to convert from the spot. Unfortunately, it was not a chance he could take as Kaith kept the Slovenian’s spot-kick out.

The two halves couldn’t have really been much different if we tried, to be honest. Chennaiyin restricted Pune to only one attempt on target in a second-half performance that was duly rewarded with a goal in the final ten minutes. Mihelic, who missed the penalty, was withdrawn for Augusto who made sure he staked his claim for a place in the starting eleven with the assist. Nelson put it beyond Kaith and there wasn’t enough time for Pune to salvage anything which left them third in the table.

Sheringham’s ATK came away with a valuable three points in what was a very close encounter with NorthEast United. Avram Grant’s side defended admirably throughout but a moment of magic decided the game. Arguably, the Highlanders had the better of the opportunities in the first half as Danilo had a shot well saved in what was a half which was a void of many clear-cut chances; Zequinha fired over with ATK’s best chance, but to call it the best chance sort of sums up how it played out.

Both teams threw caution to the wind after the break as a draw wasn’t really of much use to either of them. Danilo was at it again but once more, he couldn’t get past Majumder in the ATK goal and soon after the ball was down the other end, however, a bad miss from a free header and a strong save from Paramba kept the score at 0-0. That was until Zequinha volleyed one in from the edge of the box. We could argue all day about the best keeper in the world, but whatever conclusion we come to, I can safely say even he wouldn’t have saved it, it was that good. The ball broke to him after NorthEast could only half clear Robin’s attempt and the rest, is history. ATK moved onto twelve points, NorthEast remained on seven.

Previous encounter…

Marcelinho was the difference when the two sides met earlier in the campaign as he scored two and set the other two up in a game that saw ATK concede four of the nine goals that they’ve shipped this season. With forty minutes left the game was finely poised at one goal apiece but then Pune came to life as goals from Kumar, Marcelinho and Alfaro gave them goals in a phenomenal twenty-nine-minute spell.

I’ll give you some stats to show how one dominated the proceedings; 59% possession, 15 more shots, 133 more accurate passes, two more corners. The thing is, those stats belong to ATK which goes to show that Pune came away with the three points after literally the perfect away game. Clinical.

The game itself…

The introduction of the transfer window has given both sides the chance to tweak their squads as we enter the business end of the season. Pune have brought in Lolo and Marko Stankovic to give them a bit more stability moving forward; Lolo, who was most recently at Hercules CF has spent all of his football career thus far in Spain mainly operates as a holding midfielder, but can also fill in at centre-half if need be. Stankovic, who moves from SV Ried in Austria, has spent all of his career in his native country bar a brief fling in Italy, he will add a bit of steel in midfield whilst also being able to play further forward if required.

ATK have been shrewd in the transfer market as they’ve brought in David Cotterill and Martin Paterson from abroad alongside former Delhi Dynamos keeper Porei who will give Majumder some competition after the departure of Jaaskelainen. Both Cotterill and Paterson will add more firepower to their ranks as they’ve scored the joint fewest in the ISL, something that Sheringham will be eager to change.

ATK have only scored more than one in a game once this season and that came in a defeat at Chennaiyin so that’s something that needs rectifying, although, they have only conceded more than one in a game twice this season which came in that aforementioned Chennaiyin game and also the previous encounter with Pune. Strong. Pune average 1.8 goals a game so if we round up, the game could quite easily be 2-1 to Pune. We’ll see.

Ones to watch…

Marcelinho – He was sorely missed against Chennaiyin and he’ll be welcomed back to the team with open arms against ATK. When you look at his stats, it’s not difficult to see why someone like him is difficult to replace; he scores 0.8 goals per game, gets fouled twice a game, has scored six and created four in a season which has been superb for the Brazilian. As long as he can keep a lid on his temperament, he’ll do some damage today.

Ryan Taylor – He makes ATK click. The last game in particular against NorthEast which was a tight encounter, he really shone and whilst Zequinha got a lot of credit for his wonder goal, Taylor’s contribution can’t be overlooked. 76% of his passes found their intended targets against NEUFC and he covered nearly every blade of grass as he popped up in both areas as he carries on impressing in the ISL. Personally, I’d put Taylor on Marcelinho to keep him quiet, but that’s just me.

One more thing…

All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Pune @ 5/4. This is a house bet, I repeat, this is a house bet. We’re up to two, let’s get back up to three.

About the Author

Jake Flock
Football and writing are my two biggest passions, so seems right to combine the pair, don't you think?