Bengaluru FC will look to keep intact their flawless record at home this season when Carles Cuadrat’s side host new league leaders FC Goa at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Thursday. With both teams having sealed a spot in the play-offs, the fixture will play a big role in determining where the two sides finish on the table.
Both Bengaluru and Goa have had a contrasting run of form after the League resumed in January. Sergio Lobera’s men are unbeaten in six games, and for all their prowess in attack, have managed to keep clean sheets in five of those fixtures. Bengaluru FC, meanwhile, in their attempt to rotate the squad and preserve players, have managed just the one win against North East United, while going down to Mumbai, Chennaiyin and Delhi.
But while the Bengaluru boss admitted that his side have been taking away lessons from performances that have been left wanting, managing the squad ahead of the key play-off games has been the priority. “We have achieved our first target of making the play-offs, we now have two more games to manage before the high-intensity games kick in. When we took the lead in Delhi, I had a feeling that we would see the game through. But it wasn’t to be, and that’s football. Interestingly, the last time we took a lead in a game and lost was in the final of the ISL against Chennaiyin.”
The Blues will have their work cut out in defence, coming up against an attack led by league top scorer, Ferran Corominas. The Spaniard has been complimented well by Jackichand Singh, Edu Bedia and Brandon Fernandes as Lobera’s side have gone about dismantling teams with relative ease.
In what will be a definite miss for Bengaluru, defender Albert Serran is serving a suspension after picking up a yellow card – his fourth of the season – in the game against Delhi Dynamos. The boss didn’t hesitate to admit the kind of void Erik Paartalu’s absence will have and said that they were looking for options to bring in as a replacement. The Blues’ hard-tackling Australian midfielder sustained a knee injury while going in for a challenge in the game against Chennaiyin two weeks ago was recently ruled out for the season by Cuadrat. “Erik is a very big miss and his injury reiterates why I am keen on managing minutes and appearances for my players. We do have the option of bringing in a replacement and we will be exercising that,” he added.
On whether he was worried that Miku hasn’t been among the goals since his return from injury, Cuadrat said the striker would need time to get back to the level he is capable of. “Miku is having a pre-season of sorts and it is evident. But we have two more games and roughly fifteen days for him to get completely ready and we are certain he will.”
The game kicks off at 7.30 pm and will be telecast live on the Star Sports network, Hotstar, Colors Kannada TV and Jio TV.