ISL 2022-23 semifinal: How can Hyderabad FC beat ATK Mohun Bagan to reach the final?

Manolo Marquez. R.Parthibhan/Focus Sports/ ISL

Hyderabad FC travel to Kolkata to face ATK Mohun Bagan in the second leg of their Indian Super League semifinal on Monday, March 13 at the Salt Lake stadium. Here is how Hyderabad FC can reach the ISL final:

What is the situation?

The defending champions played out an entertaining 0-0 draw in the first leg in Hyderabad, with either side now requiring a win to go through. A draw at the end of full-time will result in extra-time (since away goals are no longer a factor), with penalties to follow if the teams are still locked in a stalemate after that period. Hyderabad have only ever defeated ATK Mohun Bagan twice in their history - both of which came at home.

The defending champions lost the second leg of their semifinal against ATKMB last season, with Laxmikant Kattimani putting in a stellar performance to keep the score down to 0-1. To defeate ATKMB this time around, Manolo Marquez' side will need to create their own slice of history.

ATKMB have an impressive record at home (7 wins from 10 home games this season), but they face the league's second-best away side in Hyderabad (7 wins from 10 away games this season).

Grab the attacking impetus right from the off, courtesy a fully fit Bart Ogbeche

Since the game features the two best defences in the land, it wasn't much of a surprise to see Hyderabad hold their shape right from the start. However, with Bart Ogbeche expected to shrug off the minor knock he was carrying in the first game, Manolo Marquez has an ace up his sleeve in Kolkata.

The defending champions did create chances, taking 14 shots of which only three were on target (xG 0.54, xGOT 0.67). However, with Javi Siverio left to do a fair bit of running (since Ogbeche wasn't fully fit) against Slavko Damjanovic and Pritam Kotal, he had very little left in the tank. Marquez can also solve this by pushing Borja Herrera a bit higher, atleast in the beginning. It will afford Ogbeche a chance to do what he does best - occupy the small pockets of space and put the ball in the back of the net. A central threat might catch ATK Mohun Bagan off-guard - and an early lead could afford Hyderabad the advantage.

Hyderabad's ability to defend a lead is unparalleled - they have only dropped points once after taking the lead the whole season, which was an inconsequential game at home against Jamshedpur FC late in the season.

Defend the long balls and neutralize ATKMB's aerial threat

Juan Ferrando noted that with Hyderabad's fullbacks always pushing high up the pitch, his team resorted to long balls in the spaces vacated by them in a bid to hit Hyderabad on the counter. Odei Onaindia and Chinglensana Singh dealt with most of those aerial balls, but Marquez' men did suffer a bit from set-pieces, which might require Joao Victor to come into the side to offer a burlier presence than Herrera.

Marquez is unlikely to switch-up his team's best mode of attacks from Akash Mishra and Nikhil Poojari out wide, but can ask Sahil Tavora to drop deeper so that Hyderbad's centre-backs are well prepared to deal with attacks in the channels.

Should ATKMB opt for the reverse and move centrally through Dimi Petratos, the need for Victor's presence in defensive midfield becomes all the more important.

Maximise Mohammad Yasir's ability to create space

Mohammad Yasir was arguably the best attacking player on the pitch in the previous game, and he got plenty of change from taking on Subhasish Bose down Hyderabad's right flank. Even if ATKMB do double team him with Puitea, Yasir's ability to evade his markers and cut inside will cause plenty of chaos. Hyderabad's strikers tend to drift into the half-spaces on the left channel, but would perhaps be better off drifting into the right channel and utilizing Yasir's ability to draw defenders in.

Siverio and Ogbeche drifting into the right could also pull defenders away, and Yasir's proficiency with long-range strikes when in space is well known. Focusing on attacks down the right could also lead to an overload with a quick switch of play to one of Halicharan Narzary and Akash Mishra down the left wing - with Asish Rai in danger of being caught out of position.

What did the coach say?

"Everybody knows that we play 4-2-3-1 and that's the formation we keep. We don't change much, and I think when things are working it's better to not change. It'll depend in the first few minutes on who scores the first goal whether it's ATK Mohun Bagan or us because then obviously, the other team has to attack and then it'll finally open the match."

"We want to be brave from the first minute, but we are facing one of the best teams in India. Sometimes you want to attack but the opponent is strong, and they have quality players. I don't know if they'll recover players like Ashique (Kuruniyan) or (Glan) Martins, they have a very good team so let's see."