The Indian Super League 2018/19 season started on Saturday as two-time winners ATK faced two-time finalists Kerala Blaster in the season opener in what was a clash of giants. Kerala Blasters won the contest 2-0 following the goals from Slavisla Stojanovic and Matej Poplatnik. The high voltage encounter did not disappoint in terms of quality which the fans have witnessed over the past season and certainly lived up to the hype.
Let us take a look at 3 talking points from ATK vs Kerala Blasters:
Two Heavyweights - Different styles:
Kerala Blasters were off to flying start as they were creating chances for fun in the opening minutes of the game. The team looked full of confidence and the chemistry between the players was top notch. Fluid passing with great understanding made the start even more spectacular to watch.
However, on the contrary, ATK lacked the chemistry and coordination with players putting mispasses for a considerable number of times. Striker Balwant Singh was left isolated up the pitch as the midfielders failed to create any sort of chances for him. While this is just the beginning of the season, but if ATK fail to buckle up then this could be a long and tough season for them.
ATK’s start was a wayward one compared to what Kerala Blasters produced on Match day 1. The Steve Coppell side’s defensive organisation was shaky and as both the Centre Backs John Johnson and Gerson Vieira looked clueless while defending the open spaces. The gaps were huge and the lack of coordination was clear. Kolkata’s midfield duo of El Maimouni Noussair and Pronoy Halder also lacked the tenacity to influence the speed of the game and create openings for the forwards as the team completely depended on set pieces for any chances.
Kerala Blasters fielder eight players who were playing their debut matches for the club and none of them disappointed. ATK were clear favourites ahead of the game but the Kerala lads stunned everyone with the hunger and passion to play good football and win the game.
Sahal Abdul Samad, Matej Poplantik, Dheeraj Singh, Md Rakip, Stavisla Stojanovic were brilliant with their respective contributions. They kept ATK’s midfield at bay, kept moving the ball with fluidity, created chances and kept things tight for the majority part of the game. And certainly it didn’t look like they were playing their first official match together.
If things keep on improving from the opening game for Kerala Blasters then they are bound to have a fruitful season ahead.