NorthEast United FC will face their toughest test of this Indian Super League season when they take on Bengaluru FC in the top-of-table clash on Wednesday.
Bengaluru FC have been the best side in the league so far. They have remained unbeaten in eight matches, wining seven of them, including six on the trot to occupy the top spot in the points table.
But they will still be on their guard as they are challenged by the next best side, NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium.
NorthEast United coach Eelco Schattorie will be doubly motivated to end Bengaluru's unbeaten run.
The home side have not exactly been in red-hot form this season, particularly at home. They have registered a single win in their four matches on home soil but Schattorie will hope they can get a positive result as they attempt to break the 20-point mark at the start of the second leg.
It will not be easy for the team, particularly with matches coming in thick and fast.
"I think Bengaluru have an advantage here (because of the fixtures). But they don't have their best player (Miku) available, so I think that's a disadvantage.
"But they have shown that they can win games even without him. They have conceded just six goals so far so breaking them open will be difficult," said Schattorie, who will bank upon striker Bartholomew Ogbeche to deliver the goods.
In midfield, Jose Leudo and Rowllin Borges will have to shoulder additional responsibility as they come up against a solid midfield pivot consisting of Dimas Delgado and Erik Paartalu.
Bengaluru have maintained a 100 per cent record on the road, winning each of their four away games. Despite the continued absence of Miku, who has been a vital cog in their team, the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and others have stepped up to the challenge.
Bengaluru coach Carles Cuadrat will be pleased with the collective effort of his squad in front of goal. Players such as Rahul Bheke and Nishu Kumar have contributed with a goal or two as Bengaluru continued their march into the play-offs.
"NorthEast United FC have done really well this season. From all their games that I've watched this season, I can see that there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes. They've been working hard and they have done well with their scouting. They've brought in some good players and you can see that the club is growing," said Cuadrat.