ANI Photo | ISL: Relentless Odisha FC takes on resilient East Bengal unit

East Bengal FC will look to extend their unbeaten streak when they host the high-flying Odisha FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Friday in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24.
The Red and Gold Brigade have drawn thrice and won once in their previous four ISL encounters, which includes their biggest-ever victory in league history, i.e. a 5-0 outcome against NorthEast United FC. However, since then, they have played successive goalless draws against Punjab FC and Mumbai City FC and will be eager to regain their scoring touch on their home turf against the Juggernauts.
Some positive outings in the first half of the campaign have seen East Bengal FC sniffing around the top six spots in the points table. These are encouraging signs for a team that was languishing in the lower half of the standings lately, and the influence of Carles Cuadrat and his men in the same has been critical.
They have been impressive going forward, in the presence of a lethal striker in Cleiton Silva and quick, fleet-footed wingers in Naorem Mahesh Singh and Nandhakumar Sekar. Their midfield has players like Borja Herrera and Saul Crespo who can spring a surprise with their eye for an assist from advanced positions, and Cuadrat will be giving it his all to ensure that they hold this streak of unbeaten results dear to them after the game against Sergio Lobera and Co.
Odisha FC comes into this match after a convincing 3-0 victory against Hyderabad FC away from home. They simply swept aside the Thangboi Singto-coached side as a brace by Roy Krishna supported by a goal by Mourtada Fall ensured that they were on top of the proceedings from the get-go. In addition to being fifth in the ISL points table, Odisha FC have also made it to the AFC Cup knockouts and that speaks volumes of how well this side has come together after a slightly shaky start under a relatively new squad designed by their Spaniard head coach.
The East Bengal FC team is taking baby steps towards getting to a position from where the playoffs qualification could become easier for them. They are in the seventh position right now, but the sixth-placed Chennaiyin FC have three more points (12) than them after playing two additional games (11). An inspired outing against an in-form Odisha FC unit can help them bridge the gap between them and the higher-ranked sides in the standings, and also reinvigorate the spirit of the squad as the league break nears.
The team will be keen to make the most of the home advantage too, and somehow find ways to get past the Odisha FC backline marshalled by the centre-back duo of Mourtada Fall and Carlos Delgado.
Lobera is accustomed to building title-winning champion units that are relentless in their pursuit of success. On that note, his tenure with Odisha FC in the ISL didn’t begin as flawlessly as he would have liked, with the team dropping 10 points in their first nine games. However, gradually, they are coming onto their own, with all the elements of a Lobera-coached side unfolding lately.
Fall being lethal from set-pieces, Ahmed Jahouh locking in consistent creative performances, and two forwards in Diego Mauricio and Roy Krishna delivering tangible outputs game after game – all of these have been hallmarks and prevalent in victorious units he has given shape to in India previously.

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