ISL 2020-21 Kolkata Derby preview: Form favours ATK Mohun Bagan as SC East Bengal looks to go against the tide

ISL 2020-21 Kolkata Derby preview: ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal are poles apart in the current standings, setting an uncanny backdrop for the iconic Kolkata Derby.

ATK Mohun Bagan

ATK Mohun Bagan is currently perched at the top of the ISL 2020-21 table with 36 points from 17 matches. And with barely three rounds remaining, The Mariners are one of the favourites to walk away with the League Winners' Shield.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

There is an uncharacteristic sense of disengagement as two of the oldest rivals of Indian football - ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal – remain poles apart in the current standings of the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21). This sets an uncanny backdrop for the iconic Kolkata Derby which will see its second edition of the season at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday.

ATK Mohun Bagan vs SC East Bengal: LIVE BLOG

The two traditional rivals have seldom remained so distanced in the long history of their strife and the fans on the either side will wish that the difference does not become a factor in the derby clash, which has always been a riveting contest of emotion and nerve.

Podcast - The merger between ATK and Mohun Bagan for ISL 2020-21 seemed like a match made in heaven, but fans didn't look pleased. Our reporters Shyam Vasudevan, Aashin Prasad and Amitabha Das Sharma delve into the reasons behind fans' displeasure and the raging hashtag #RemoveATK in the latest episode of 'The Full Time Show'.

ATK Mohun Bagan, which downed Jamshedpur FC by a solitary goal in its previous outing, is currently perched at the top of the table with 36 points from 17 matches. And with barely three rounds remaining, The Mariners are one of the favourites to walk away with the League Winners' Shield.

In stark contrast, SC East Bengal has dropped to the bottom half and is placed ninth with 17 points gained from as many matches. The team made a poor start and eventually dropped out of the contest failing to recover much in the later stages.

RELATED| ISL 2020-21 top-scorers list: ATK Mohun Bagan's Roy Krishna leads Golden Boot race; Angulo second, Mauricio third

What makes the contest even more significant is the fact that it has entered the 100th year of its existence. Recent research done on the basis of newspaper reports found that the two teams officially met for the first time on August 8, 1921 in Cooch Behar Cup, a tournament that went off circulation quite some time ago. This fact has also been acknowledged by the ISL, which welcomed the two legacy clubs in its fold this season.

RELATED| The Kolkata Derby: They met as early as in 1921!  

Podcast: The lastest episode of 'The Full Time Show' features the Robbie Fowler interview with our reporters Shyam Vasudevan and Amitabha Das Sharma. We also take a deep dive into his controversy-courting maiden ISL coaching sojourn and his season with SC East Bengal.

ATK Mohun Bagan would definitely be looking to repeat the first phase’s success (2-0) it had against the traditional rival and cement its position on top. On the other hand, SC East Bengal will be playing for prestige while looking to provide its fans the opportunity to brag about something this season. Ironically, one of the most-watched events in Indian sports will have to go without the fans on the stands once again owing to the existing pandemic situation.

RELATED| ISL 2020-21 Playoff dates announced; Fatorda to host March 13 final

“The derby is different. The attitude of the players, the level of pressure is different than other matches because you have the possibility to change the season with one victory. It is a dangerous match for us,” ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Lopez Habas said on the eve of the match. “We will be looking for three points like we have done in other matches. It is important for us to stay on top,” Habas added.

SC East Bengal looks a better prepared side compared to what it was when it took on Mohun Bagan in its debut ISL game.

“The first derby was a bit unfair on us, given our preparation time. It was more of a start of a new journey as most players hadn't played the ISL before. You can look at our campaign in two halves. Every day is a learning day here,” SC East Bengal assistant coach Tony Grant said. Grant will remain in command in the derby as head coach Robbie Fowler will have to sit out owing suspension.

RELATED| ISL 2020-21 news: Kerala Blasters parts ways with head coach Kibu Vicuna

“This derby has got a lot of history and memories. We know how much the derby means to the people. Hopefully, we can do our fans proud,” Grant added.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :