Pune: High on confidence after their back-to-back wins, a resurgent FC Pune City take on another in-form team Chennaiyin FC in a Hero Indian Super League fixture here on Tuesday.
A win for either side at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium would take them to the top spot in the league standings at the halfway point of the group stages.
Pune began their campaign on a disastrous note and they looked like one of the weakest teams in the tournament after suffering a 0-5 thrashing at the hands of Mumbai City FC in their second match.
But, they bounced back quickly with three wins in their next four matches and are now at third spot at the league standings with 10 points from six matches, having won thrice, drawn once and lost twice.
Pune go into Tuesday's game on the back of a remarkable 3-1 away win against Atletico de Kolkata, becoming the first team to inflict defeat on the current league leaders.
For Chennaiyin FC, the match will be the third consecutive game they have gone into the fixture knowing a win would take them to the top of the league. The previous two ended in draws and Chennai will be looking to get back to winning ways.
ATK are on 12 points from seven matches while Mumbai are on 11 from the same number of games.
The home side though will be without Dutch midfielder John Goossens, who scored a last-gasp winner against NorthEast United FC, after he injured himself following an aerial clash with his team-mate goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya in their last match.
However, Pune will be boosted by the availability of former Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant who is expected to play against Chennai.
Chennaiyin FC also would look for a win to jump to the top spot and the battle of supremacy between the second and third place sides is expected to be a engrossing affair.
For the visiting side, Brazillian star Elano Blumer will will the key player once again, having scored eight goals in seven matches.
Head coach Marco Materazzi said he expected his marquee player Elano to continue with his form.
"He (Elano) is a very important player for us. We have other quality players also like Bruno and Cristian Hidalgo. But Elano of course is class. Not everybody gets more than 50 caps for Brazil. Hopefully he will maintain his great goal-scoring form in ISL," Materazzi said at the pre-match press conference.
"Tomorrow is a very important game for us as we have the chance to go top at the end of the first phase. Pune are a quality side and they showed that by winning away at Atletico de Kolkata in their last game," said the 2006 World Cup winner Italian.
Pennant's signing should give Pune more attacking edge down the flanks as the pacy English player could supply the assists for the likes of Dudu Omagbemi and marquee player David Trezeguet to score.