ISL: Bengaluru FC test for resurgent ATK

Kolkata: Hosts ATK will look to stretch their winning run when they take on last year’s runners up Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here Wednesday.

ATK have managed to bounce back with two wins and draw after succumbing to back-to-back defeats at home in the first two games.

In their last match, ATK upset defending champions Chennaiyin FC 2-1, where their key attacking duo of Manuel Lanzarote and Kalu Uche showed good coordination, falling into coach Steve Coppell’s scheme of things.

While Uche struck the first goal, the ATK captain set up John Johnson for the second.

ATK, on Wednesday, will look to secure their maiden win against the Sunil Chhetri-led side.

Bengaluru FC will also be up against a player who had been a key member of the side since the club’s fairy-tale journey from 2013.

Having switched allegiance to ATK, English defender John Johnson will now be seen thwarting the duo of Miku and Chhetri.

“The strategy is just to try and win every game. Bengaluru are a top side and they’ve proved it so far this season. They proved it last season. We look forward to it. We want to play the best teams and see how we cope. So, we are looking forward to that game now,” Coppell said.

Speaking about the turnaround, the veteran Englishman said: “Obviously, the first two games we lost and so it was a big win for us. The team is still evolving. You know, it’s still taking shape.”

“The more we play, the more players are put under the microscope. The more you see who responds well and who doesn’t respond well, you can shape the team, even more, going forward. It’s happening to me,” he said.

For Bengaluru, Chhetri and Miku have been at their sublime best scoring five of the six goals in their unbeaten run from three matches this season.

In their last fixture against FC Pune City, the duo were heavily involved as Bengaluru struck three past their opponents to begin their three-match away sojourn.

Last season, Bengaluru won seven out of their nine matches in the league stage — the most by any team.

Having won their first away match of the season, Bengaluru FC have now five away wins on the trot.

The Blues will further be boosted by Dimas Delgado’s return to full fitness as the Spaniard midfielder has the ability to pierce resolute defences.

Bengaluru FC also have consisted the least number of goals, only two this season, with Albert Serran and Juanan at the heart of their defence as Coppell will have a tough task ahead.

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