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Kolkata Derby: Who are the potential gamechangers for East Bengal against ATK Mohun Bagan?

2:53 pm AEDT 25/11/21
Franjo Prce East Bengal Jamshedpur ISL 8
All eyes will be on East Bengal's backline on Saturday evening...

The 2021-22 Indian Super League (ISL) season's first Kolkata derby is upon us as the two Kolkata giants get ready to lock horns on Saturday at the Tilak Maidan in Goa.

The two rivals have met each other only twice in the ISL and on both occasions, ATK Mohun Bagan came out as winners. Thus, the Red and Golds will be eager to register their maiden derby win in the ISL on Saturday.

While ATK Mohun Bagan had the perfect start to their campaign with a 4-2 win over Kerala Blasters, East Bengal managed to salvage just a point against Jamshedpur FC despite taking the lead. With the addition of Hugo Boumous to their attack, the Mariners are looking stronger than before.

Jose Manuel Diaz's side have a tough job at hand as they gear for the all-important Kolkata derby and here are the key figures in the East Bengal who could prove gamechangers against their rivals.

Who will be the game changers for East Bengal in the Kolkata derby?

Arindam Bhattacharya

The Bengali custodian, who won the Golden Glove award in the ISL last season while being at ATK Mohun Bagan, has jumped ship this season to join rivals East Bengal. This is the first time in his career that Arindam Bhattacharya is playing for the Red and Golds and in his maiden season, he has been named the captain of the side.

A seasoned campaigner, Bhattacharya will be a key figure for East Bengal under the goal post. Considering how lethal ATK Mohun Bagan's attack is with players like Roy Krishna, Hugo Boumous, Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh, the East Bengal goalkeeper will have a busy outing on Saturday night at the Tilak Maidan.

Franjo Prce

Like Arindam Bhattacharya, Manolo Diaz will also bank upon Croatian central defender Franjo Prce to keep the dangerous ATK Mohun Bagan attack at bay. The Croatian made a mark on his debut for East Bengal by scoring the club's first goal of the season against Jamshedpur FC on Sunday.

Other than his ability to go up, Prce is solid at the back. The East Bengal defence under his leadership, did a commendable job to keep the Jamshedpur attack, comprising of Nerijus Valskis, silent for most of the game. Prce will be once again trusted with the job to lead the Red and Golds' backline against the Green and Maroons.

Antonio Perosevic

If Franjo Prce gave Manolo Diaz the much needed dependency in the backline then his compatriot Antonio Perosevic showed glimpses of his brilliance upfront. Perosevic, who is predominantly a winger, was used as a second striker by the Spanish coach against Jamshedpur in the last game. And the Croatian had his moments in the game where he went past the opposition defenders with ease and created chances in the Jamshedpur box.

ATK Mohun Bagan's defence has looked shaky at times this season, be it in the AFC Cup or in their ISL season opener. They have to remain cautious in handling Perosevic's movements, especially his ability to cut inside to the penalty box from the flanks.