Coach Carles Cuadrat expects nothing short in a game that will need Bengaluru FC to dig their heels in if they are to grind out a result against ATK when the two sides meet at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday.
Unbeaten in their opening three games, a win would put the Blues equal on points with league leaders FC Goa, but Cuadrat called for his side to stay sharp in all areas of the pitch as Kolkata possess the kind of quality to turn a game on its head.
“Both Kolkata and us have picked up seven points from our last three games and it’s going to be a game against a tough team that has the kind of players to decide which way the game ends,” said Cuadrat, while addressing the press on the eve of the game.
Steve Coppell-coached ATK began the season with a little stumble, suffering two home defeats on the spin. But since the blip, they seem to have recovered well with wins against Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin FC and a draw against Jamshedpur to move to fifth on the table.
“The league is a short one and it doesn’t allow you too much time to build momentum. Kolkata have had a few good results going their way and will come at us hard to keep the run going. They used the international break to restructure a few things and you can see the difference it has made to their results," said Cuadrat.
As many as five ATK players have donned the Bengaluru blue in the past, but the most notable on that list will be John Johnson. The English defender spent five seasons with the Blues and the reunion of sorts with Sunil Chhetri, Miku and Udanta Singh, will be an intriguing contest, if anything.
Cuadrat, while acknowledging Johnson’s contribution to Bengaluru and his importance on the pitch, said he was pleased with the way new signing Albert Serran has partnered Juanan Gonzalez at the heart of defence. “Albert is a top professional and has seamlessly fit into our system. Johnson will be on the pitch tomorrow but in another shirt, that’s how football is.”
Coppell’s recent changes include starting with striker Kalu Uche and the Nigerian looked good to get more than just the one goal he scored in the win over Chennaiyin FC. There’s also the constant threat of former FC Goa man, Manuel Lanzarote who creates the bulk of ATK’s chances in attack.
Bengaluru, meanwhile, haven’t tinkered with the way they have started games and whether Cuadrat changes that against a team that doesn’t move the ball around as much as some of the opposition Bengaluru has come up again, is left to be seen.