The Indian Super League side from the 'Mecca of Indian football', Atletico de Kolkata, will be looking forward to becoming the first ever team in the history of the Indian football tournament to lift the coveted title twice. However, that can only take place if the Sourav Ganguly co-owned side can dish out a really great performance this season.
ATK became the inaugural champions of the tournament in a dramatic fashion after beating Kerala Blasters right at the death in the 2014 edition of the Indian Super League. In 2015, they made it to the knockouts phase but lost out to FC Goa in the semifinals and also a place in the final. Can ISL 2016 be any different?
"It's [ISL's] a tournament that has caught onto people. I remember the semi-final versus Chennai in Kolkata (ISL 2015), where we had 75000 at the Salt Lake Stadium," recalled Ganguly. "I'm looking forward to two months of outstanding football and hopefully the best team will win [in ISL 2016].
"I think we [ATK] are a good side. I thought we were a good side last year as well, better than the side we had in the first season. We won in the first season but lost in the semis in the second season," the former India cricketer added.
Let's look into certain key aspects of Atletico de Kolkata ahead of ISL 2016
Atletico de Kolkata left for Spain, like every other year, to participate in the preseason training camp at the Los Angeles de San Rafael in Madrid. They participated in a friendly match against local Spanish team Club Atletico (CA) Pinto, which ended 4-3 in favour of the home side.
Following their return from Spain after a month-long plan, ATK plied their trade against a local team of 11 players in Kolkata and came out 4-0 winners.
Coach - Jose Molina (replaces Antonio Habas)
Iain Hume, Helder Postiga (forwards), Arnab Mondal (defender), Ofentse Nato, Borja Fernandes (midfielders).
What to expect in ISL 2016
With Antonio Habas having parted ways with the team, Jose Molina is expected to have some initial challenges in fielding a team with all the right combinations. Nevertheless, with the core of the team having been retained, ATK will be expected to continue the similar style of play as that of last season.
The home matches of the team, this time, has been shifted to the 22,000-seater Rabindra Sarovar Stadium, meaning less fans. Will that be another worrying factor for the team? That remains to be seen.
Also, the lack of a good quality foreign goalkeeper in the squad this time around could come as a worrying sign for Atletico de Kolkata. Spaniard Dani Mallo have not played in the ISL yet, but the Indian duo Debjit Majumder and Shilton Paul have. Who will be the first choice keeper for ATK in ISL 2016? It remains to be seen.
October 2 - Against Chennaiyin FC at Rabindra Sarovar Stadium.