East Bengal will host Bengaluru FC in their first encounter of the I-League this season at the Barasat Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday. The fixture has been one of the most anticipated ones in the domestic football club league of India over the seasons, and Saturday's match, a top-of-the-table clash, will be no exception.
Both sides have started their season on a high note. While Bengaluru FC sit atop the table after four games – three wins and a loss, East Bengal stay second with eight points – two wins and two draws.
The Kolkata side were on the verge of winning the first Kolkata Derby of the calendar year against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan on 23 January, but a late equaliser from the defending I-League champions made sure that the fate of the game is a 1-1 draw.
Nevertheless, East Bengal did not back down in their following fixture, and they eked out a win against newcomers DSK Shivajians on 26 January. However, the Red-and-Golds coach Biswajit Bhattacharya is not willing to take things lightly. "We need to work on the defence. I believe in my players and they try their best on the pitch by giving their heart and soul," Bhattacharya was quoted by Goal ahead of the match.
"However, we have made silly mistakes because of which we have lost four points already. So we are very serious as we need to solve these mistakes," he added.
Bengaluru FC, meanwhile, suffered a shocking 2-0 loss against Mumbai FC at the Cooperage on Wednesday, but Ashley Westwood remains upbeat as there are many matches remaining in the season. "If you look at the League as it is, we're through a quarter of it and if you win three out of every four games, you'll win the League," the Bengaluru FC coach said ahead of the game, through a club press release.
"So, there's no real pressure on us. Statistically you normally win only 25% of your away games; we've won 66% of them so hopefully it will pay dividends at the end of the season."
For East Bengal, the best news of the week remains the arrival of Chennaiyin FC hotshot Bernard Mendy on loan at the club. However, the Frenchman will not be available for 30 January's game.
East Bengal won: 3
Bengaluru FC won: 1
Where to watch live
East Bengal vs Bengaluru FC is scheduled to kick-off at 4:05 pm IST (10:35 am GMT, 5:35 am EST) on Saturday, 30 January.
In India (and the rest of the Asian subcontinent), viewers can catch the game on Ten Action. Online streaming will be available on tensports.com.
Viewers in Germany, Austria, Russia, Switzerland and Gerogia can catch up with the game with online streaming will be available on LAOLA1.
Other countries can catch up with the I-League live score on FlashScore.