Match Preview: ISL semi-final Chennaiyin v Kolkata [1st leg]

The second semi-final of the 2015 Indian Super League will be contested between Chennaiyin FC and Atletico de Kolkata. The first leg is scheduled to be played at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium on Saturday before the second leg goes underway at the imposing Salt Lake Stadium the following week.

Atletico Kolkata are the defending champions and have continued performing at a high level this season as well. They did the double over the Chennai outfit this term. The current edition of the ISL started with a game between the two sides on the opening day with Kolkata winning 3-2 courtesy of twin strikes from their marquee player Helder Postiga, but the Portuguese forward had to go off injured and didn’t make another appearance for the rest of the tournament. They won the second game between the two sides 2-1 at the Sal Lake Stadium on 18th November.

However, Postiga’s spot was aptly filled by Kolkata’s close season acquisition Iain Hume, who has gone on to net ten goals for the reigning ISL champions. The clash between the two sides will see the league’s top two goalscorer go head-to-head, where Kolkata have Hume, Chennaiyin have Stiven Mendoza, who has netted 11 times, in their ranks.

The potent strikers that both teams possess will definitely be a huge factor in the result of the encounter, especially with the kind of form both of them are in. Nonetheless, it is worth a mention that two sides also have the league’s two outstanding defensive midfielders. While Kolkata have Borja Fernandez, Chennaiyin have Raphael Augusto on loan from Brazilian giants Fluminense.

Antonio Lopez has preferred to use the 4-2-3-1 through most of the tournament and his system has worked wonders as they have conceded just 17 goals. On the other hand, in the stewardship of Italian World Cup winner Marco Materazzi, Chennaiyin have experimented with several formations and possess the meanest defence in the league that has conceded only 15 goals.

The two sides are evenly matched throughout the pitch, promising a battle of attrition. At home, Chennaiyin will start as favourites, and will probably seal the first leg with a narrow 2-1 win.