Famed coaches, marquee foreign signings have come and gone and yet East Bengal have failed to finish on the podium at the end of their league campaign. With the arrival of Alejandro Menendez last summer, the fans have begun to believe that their glory days are just around the corner.
The team has overcome the initial hiccups this season and have put together a good run of results. Going down to Chennai City did complicate matters for them but with eight matches to go, they still can turn things around.
They are fifth on the league table with 22 points, eight adrift of league leaders Chennai City but with a game in hand. Therefore, Menendez's men can ill-afford to drop points against Mohun Bagan this weekend.
In the previous campaign, their title hopes rested very much in their own hands. However, a draw against Gokulam Kerala and Shillong Lajong in the business end of the season stifled their hopes of winning silverware. They cannot drop any more points as the season enters a crucial phase.
Beating the Green and Maroon on Sunday will certainly not be easy. Mohun Bagan will enter the game with not as much pressure as they only have faint hopes to clinch the title.
Moreover under Khalid Jamil, the team seems to have found a spring in their step with two back-to-back wins against Minerva Punjab and NEROCA respectively. They will be also be desperate to win back the bragging rights which they surrendered on December 16 after going down 3-2 in the reverse fixture against East Bengal.
If East Bengal once again crumble under pressure then they will have only themselves to blame. The 99-year old club have some tough challenges coming up in the form of NEROCA (home), Real Kashmir (away), Churchill Brothers (away) and the game against Mohun Bagan can be treated as a prelude to those fixtures. A win in the derby will not only help them climb to the third spot but will also amplify their confidence going into those games.