KOCHI: After a near-perfect start to their Indian Super League campaign, ATK Mohun Bagan have run into some trouble in recent times.
While the defeat against their title rivals Mumbai City was a bitter pill to swallow, letting a victory slip away against FC Goa in their previous match would have been demoralising.
This has meant that they now trail league leaders by five points and with the Islanders showing no signs of slowing down, Antonio Habas' team will know that any further slip-up will prove costly in the race for Champions League football next season.
While the last two games for them were against teams in the top four, their next assignment is against a side who are also struggling at the moment.
Last season's finalists Chennaiyin FC have been struggling for form and they just can't shrug off suggestions that without Rafael Crivellaro, they are not the same.
With the league already past the halfway stage, every point counts and that's why the match takes added significance for both sides.
A win for Bagan would help them trim the gap to Sergio Lobera's team to just two points while Chennaiyin can break into the top four if they win.
It was uncharacteristic of Bagan to concede a late goal against FC Goa as they are masters of defending narrow leads. Questions arise on whether it is down to pressure or fatigue but Habas suggests that there is no need to panic.
"There is no pressure. In the championships, you have good moments and sometimes bad. We have played the last two games against the top two teams (FC Goa and Mumbai City FC) who are capable of winning the league. We are in the top half of the table. Maybe we need to improve," said Habas.
As for Chennaiyin, they recently signed former FC Goa midfielder Manuel Lanzarote as the replacement for Crivellaro but their head coach Csaba László still can't shrug off questions about the influential Brazilian.
"I know my team and I know the actual situation in the team. We lost our captain Rafael Crivellaro. Rafa was an important piece of the puzzle in the system and he was voted one of the best players last season," said Laszlo while admitting that they are missing him.
Defensively, the former champions have looked good but it has been in attack where the team has found most wanting.
In the last game against SC East Bengal, they failed to break down a team who were down to ten men after just 31 minutes but Chennaiyin still couldn't score.
"We are fighting with injuries. We are fighting with some kind of bad luck. But we are not complaining. I can take everything positively. You have to take the best out of the team," said Laszlo while trying to sound optimistic.