Bengaluru take on ATK in Christmas Day clash

Cuadrat Wary Of Stern Test As Blues Look To Open Gap Over Hosts With A Chance To Go Top Of The Table

Kolkata: Bengaluru FC will be keen to end the calendar year on a winning note when they take on third-placed ATK in a Christmas Day fixture that holds the promise of being an intriguing contest, at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata, on Wednesday.

Carles Cuadrat’s Blues, sitting with a point more than Antonio Habas’ team, could provisionally leapfrog FC Goa to the top of the table should they come away with a win. However, the Bengaluru boss is wary of the hosts and the threat they possess this season.

“We have a lot of respect for ATK. They have won the League twice and after two rather disappointing seasons, have gone on to rebuild the team with a combination of very good foreign and Indian signings. About this being a tough fixture, I think every game this season in the League is tough, and even Habas would agree. ATK have done well in getting foreign players who have played together before, and that is showing in their results. David Williams, Roy Krishna and now, Mandi – have all played together in Australia and they bring an understanding with each other to the table, which is important,” said Cuadrat, while addressing the media on the eve of the game.

In Fijian Krishna, ATK possess the current leading goalscorer (8 goals) of the season, and the ATK captain has stitched a formidable partnership up front with Australian David Williams. “We do have a plan in place to contain the ATK attack and we’re going to have to see how it unfolds. Like I said, ATK were smart in getting players who know each other well. This will be a tough test, and one that I’m hoping we will come out on top form. It would be nice to give our fans a present on Christmas day,” added Cuadrat.

Bengaluru, meanwhile, have been the most frugal side when it comes to conceding goals this season, having let in only five in nine games. And Cuadrat will hope The Juanan Gonzalez-led back-four will rise to the occasion. The goals haven’t exactly been flowing for the champions, but Cuadrat was confident that his side will bring the fight to the two-time winners on Wednesday. “When we were down 2-1 to Mumbai, and scored at the end, you could see my boys rushing to pick the ball out from the back of the net because they wanted to win the game. There are players and teams who consider a point good enough, but not my boys. They want to fight for every win, for every trophy and do as much as they can to succeed.”

Bengaluru put behind their first defeat of the season – the 3-2 loss to Mumbai at home – and went on to notch an impressive 2-0 win over NorthEast United in Guwahati last week. ATK, meanwhile, managed to rescue a late draw after trailing Hyderabad FC away from home, with Krishna leading the rescue act.

Having picked up one point from their last two games, ATK will be desperate to make up lost ground in what is turning out to be a keenly contested race in the top half of the table.

The game at the Salt Lake Stadium kicks off at 7.30 pm and will be telecast live on the Star Sports Network and Hotstar.

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