A tricky test awaits the Northeast United FC as they prepare to host in-form Atletico de Kolkata in what promises to be cracker of a contest in the Indian Super League here on Thursday.
The John Abraham co-owned franchise will have the packed home crowd on its side but they will need more than that to get the better of the visitors who are high on confidence after the 3-0 drubbing of Mumbai City FC in Sunday's tournament opener.
To start with, Northeast United FC pulled off a hard fought 1-0 victory against Kerala Blasters in a packed Indira Gandhi Stadium here even as the latter too fought valiantly till the end. (Related: Northeast United will put up brave fight against Kolkata, says John Abraham)
If the hosts are to challenge Kolkata's supremacy, they will have to think of ways to counter the attacking midfield trio of Borja Fernandez, Jofre and Luis Garcia United FC who flexed their muscles against Mumbai.
While Borja scored an absolute blinder against Mumbai, Garc?a ran the show from his position behind the two strikers in the middle of the park.
As far as United FC's attack is concerned, Koke, who had scored the sole winner in the first game, will be the man to look out for. The Spanish striker is always a threat and tends to exploit the gaps between the centre-backs and the full-backs. He also has an ability to provide dangerous passes from the flanks.
For both sides, it will also be very important to strike a balance between defensive duties and playmaking responsibilities.
A lot will depend on how Denzil Franco, who performed admirably in his side's last outing against Mumbai City FC, turns out when up against Koke and Co.
After an outstanding job at the post, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury will hope for another good outing against the Northeast outfit.