Hosts Delhi Dynamos will be desperate for a win against title holders Atletico de Kolkata on Saturday after drawing their previous two home matches in the Indian Super League (ISL).
It is Dynamos’ third successive home game and a win will take them at the summit of the standings, overtaking leaders FC Goa. They have 14 points from eight matches.
Consequently, a win for Atletico (13 points from 9 games) will also take them top of the pile.
Dynamos were held to frustrating 1-1 draws by NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC in their previous two home matches, both times slipping to take the pole position in the standings.
Dynamos have only won one of their three home games so far, and they were saved the blushes last time against Mumbai City FC by an injury-time strike from local lad Robin Singh.
But what will be more worrying for Dynamos player-coach Roberto Carlos will his team’s inability to score, managing only seven strikes in eight matches.
Carlos promised goals and free-flowing Brazilian way of football when he took charge but his team has produced anything but.
The Brazilian has publicly dispelled all concerns about his misfiring strikers and his team’s lack of fluidity going forward but deep down knows full well that his boys need to get their act together if they harbour any ambitions of qualifying for the semifinals.
Their campaign has rode on a sound and co-ordinated defensive unit under the leadership of Norweigian great John Arne Riise.
Carlos, himself a top defender in his heydays, knows how important it is to keep clean sheets and has employed Frenchman Florent Malouda and himself, though occasionally, in front of the four-man defence as a screen only conceding seven goals.
Malouda, being more mobile of the two, has also contributed in attack, but apart from Brazilian Gustavo Dos Santos none have impressed.
Carlos will, however, be putting faith on Indian international Robin who will be fresh from scoring India’s match-winning goal against Guam in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
Another positive for Dynamos should be the similarity of their opponents’ campaign with them.
The defending champions have done little to justify their lofty tag and have been inconsistent throughout.
They will be boosted by the arrival of new Serbian forward Deja Lekic, a replacement for Josemi, and the availability of marquee Portuguese Helder Postiga who is back after healing from a prolonged muscle problem.