ANI Photo | Indian Super League: Mohun Bagan aim to retain top spot, lock horns with struggling Kerala Blasters

Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) faces a stiff challenge to retain its place at the top of the points table as they square off against Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Wednesday.
A 3-1 win in the Kolkata Derby took the Mariners (11 wins, three draws and three losses) to the first place, but they are joint on points with Mumbai City FC in the second, with both teams tallying 36 points each currently. But, Mohun Bagan Super Giant, they have done that in a game fewer (17) than the Islanders (18), as per a press release from ISL.
As for Kerala Blasters FC, four losses in the last five games means that they have fallen below in the standings, placed fifth at the moment. They have 29 points from 17 games after nine wins, two draws and six losses, and a victory here will take them to 32 in 18, still four behind the Mariners and Mumbai City FC.
It is not easy to breach the bastion of Kochi though, with FC Goa having faltered when they squandered a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 here last month. The Mariners are in a phenomenal run of form, unbeaten under the watch of Antonio Lopez Habas, but, to overcome Kerala Blasters FC in their backyard will be no mean task.
*Key Players to Watch Out
Vibin Mohanan (Kerala Blasters FC)
The Kerala Blasters FC midfielder has been donning an important responsibility at the centre of the park for head coach Ivan Vukomanovic. The 21-year-old has made 17 appearances this season with 35 passes per game at 81 per cent accuracy. He has made five clearances, won six aerial duels, and made six interceptions, in addition to making 93 recoveries throughout this season.
He has won 53 duels, made 14 successful dribbles, made six key passes and also created six goal-scoring opportunities.
He has won back possession 9.5 times per game since the restart of the current ISL campaign, the highest such aggregate by any player in the competition in this span. Mohanan has won back possession 19 times in his two games in 2024.
Dimitrios Petratos (Mohun Bagan Super Giant)
With three goals and two assists, Dimitrios Petratos is the joint-highest goal contributor (5) in this fixture, along with former Mohun Bagan Super Giant player Roy Krishna.
Petratos can even equal Krishna as the leading scorer in this fixture with a strike in the coming match. He played a key role in all three goals that the Mariners scored in the derby. Petratos had netted eight times and assisted twice in 15 appearances this season.
He has recorded 48 touches in the opposition’s box, making seven successful dribbles, 30 key passes, and taking 20 shots on target. He has won 27 duels, made 48 recoveries, and notched a goal conversion rate of 20 per cent so far this season.
Petratos has been a threat from both close quarters as well as from distance to the opposition, and he will thrive succeeding amidst an intense atmosphere in Kochi.
Played – 7
Mohun Bagan Super Giant – 5
Kerala Blasters FC – 1
Draws – 1
Trivia: Dimitrios Diamantakos has a shooting accuracy of 72% and a shot conversion rate of 30.3% in the current ISL season.
Team Talk
“Injuries and all other issues, you have to deal with during the season without making excuses. We have tried to deal with all of them, overcome the situations and have a smile on our faces,” Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic remarked before the game.
“I have to analyse the physical state of the players after the derby. We will also be travelling, so the team selection depends on a lot of factors,” Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas said in the pre-match press conference, suggesting that their playing XI could see some changes for this clash.

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