Kolkata: Smarting from a 0-3 mauling and plagued with injuries, Atletico de Kolkata will have to play out of their skins if they are to reach their final destination, when they take on Chennaiyin FC in the return leg semifinal of Indian Super League (ISL) on Wednesday.
Continuing their dream run, CFC dished out a clinical performance to thrash the inaugural edition's champions in their 'home' leg semis in Pune on Saturday, a record fifth successive win for a team battling flood back home.
Bruno Pelissari's 'serpentine' free-kick was followed by a goal from Jeje Lalpekhula and Golden Boot leader Stiven Mendoza in the second period for ATK's rout in Pune.
The red and whites would now have to win by a margin of four goals to make their second successive final and in the event of a win by three goals, the fate would be decided via penalty shootout, and ATK would bank on the home support at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Compounding ATK's misery, their captain Borja Fernandez limped off the ground in the 42nd minute. The former Real Madrid midfielder, who was seen with his hamstring tightly strapped, is now a doubtful starter.
ATK may also miss the services of their key defender Ofentse Nato who is also down with hamstring injury and it would be interesting to see whether coach Antonio Habas would risk marquee player Helder Postiga who has remained in the squad after coming back from a one-and-a-half month injury rehab in Spain.
Postiga, who had missed the ISL since scoring a brace against the same team in the very first match, could have added the much-needed spark but, by Habas' own admission, the Portuguese World Cupper's injury would take about "five months" to heal.
In such a scenario, the ISL winning coach's key men up front will be the trio of Iain Hume, Sameehg Doutie and Jaime Gavilan, who were instrumental in handing the team a hat-trick of wins including a 2-1 against CFC in the return leg, before their winning momentum was halted by Mumbai City FC in the last league match.
ATK's defence, manned by the duo of Tiri and Arnab Mondal, will have to bring their A-game if they are to contain the electrifying forwards of CFC.
Battling odds back home the southern outfit, on the other hand, have picked up form when it mattered and have not looked back since losing in Kolkata.
Mizoram's Jeje Lalpekhula, with five goals in the last four matches, is making a big difference to the side in their recent surge and the I-League winning Mohun Bagan forward will look to make his experience count on Wednesday.
Jeje along with Mendoza, who sits on top of the tally with 12 goals, are in imperious form and the return of Brazilian Elano Blumer, who was suspended for the last match, would make CFC even stronger.
In the defence, Bernard Mendy's towering presence is one of the main reasons why CFC have the tightest backline - they have conceded just 15 goals from 15 matches this season.
Despite the massive advantage going into the second leg, CFC head coach Marco Materazzi does not want to relax.
"They have a good team and also 60-70,000 people behind them. So we will wait till tomorrow. I wish I could chill but I don't think you can do that till the last minute. We will talk when the game is over," he said.
(with agency inputs)