Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC come face to face in a highly anticipated top-of-the-table clash as both sides look to exert their dominance in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Thursday.
After an explosive start to the ISL, Atletico de Kolkata seem to have lost their bearings a littlew as they have not been able to record a win in their last three fixtures.
The Sourav Ganguly co-owned side easily looked like the best team in the ISL after registering two comfortable wins over Mumbai City FC (3-0) and NorthEast United (2-0) in their first two fixtures.
After that, they drew against Delhi Dynamos (1-1), before again registering a win against FC Goa (2-1). However, they have been quite poor in the last three fixtures, picking up only two points, with two draws and a loss against Kerala Blasters FC (1-1), Chennaiyin FC (1-1) and FC Pune City (1-3) respectively.
Despite their recent setbacks, Atletico de Kolkata boss Antonio López Habas says he is not worried, as he is sure that his team will again start producing positive results.
"We always think positive, we fight hard for good results," said Habas, according to ISL's official website, adding that he is will stick to similar tactics against Chennaiyin FC.
"We always have the same plan, we try to play with discipline, we fight hard and always keep a good respect for our opponents."
Meanwhile, Kolkata striker Fikru Teferra, who feels that his side's tight schedule contributed to their lack of focus in the last three fixtures, insists that his side need to win on Friday to cement their position at the top of the table.
"We had to play too many matches in the past, almost within two-three days, but now we have got some rest, we are ready to go for the best [result]. We must win tomorrow, my focus is on three points, I will try to do my best for the team," the 28-year-old Ethiopian international said on Thursday.
Chennaiyin have also not been in the best of form of late, as they have only managed draws in their last three fixtures against Atletico de Kolkata, NorthEast United FC and FC Pune City.
A win in this fixture would see Chennaiyin displace Atletico de Kolkata from the top of the table for the first time this season.
And Chennaiyin player-manager Marco Materazzi says that he and his side are excited to face Kolkata at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday.
"Kolkata is the best city to play football, we are going to play against one of the favourite teams of the tournament and the huge crowd, we want to play in front of 60,000 fans," Materazzi said.
Despite his side's drop in form, the Inter Milan legend is positive that Chennaiyin will qualify for the semifinals of the ISL.
"If we can match our tally from the first half of the campaign, we will be in the playoffs," Materazzi added.
Meanwhile, Chennaiyin striker Elano, who is currently the top scorer in the ISL with 8 goals so far, insists that he is under no pressure when his side face leaders Atletico de Kolkata on Friday, after a rare off day last time out when he missed a penalty.
"I don't take any pressure, I try to be happy, I am thankful to my coach for this kind of support, but I try to relax and enjoy the game," Elano said.
Where to Watch Live
The ISL match is scheduled for a 7 pm IST (2.30 pm BST, 9.30 am ET) start with live TV coverage in India provided by a lot of channels including Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2, Star Sports 3, Star Gold, Asianet Movies, Suvarna Channel and Jalsha Movies. Viewers can also watch the ISL match via free live streaming online on Starsports.com.
US viewers can live stream the action on FoxSoccer2go, while Europe viewers can catch the action live on Eurosport or their online Player. Middle East and North Africa viewers can watch the game on Bein Sports or via live streaming on Bein Sports Connect.
South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa audience can catch the ISL match live on SuperSport or their online option. Australia viewers can catch the match live on Fox Sports 2 or via their live video option online.