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Blues brace for tactical test against NorthEast United

Bengaluru FC players in training at the Dempo SC training facilities in Carambolim, Goa. (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)
Bengaluru FC players in training at the Dempo SC training facilities in Carambolim, Goa. (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)

Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat said his side fixture would be in for a tactical battle when they take on what has been a very compact NorthEast United side at the Fatorda Stadium, in Margao, on Tuesday. Both teams come into the game unbeaten and on the back of wins, and the Blues’ Spanish boss is banking on his side’s clarity with plans for the fixture to get them across the line.

“It is going to be a tactical game because NorthEast are a very well-organised team and so are we, as the results show. It will be interesting how they set up and what we are going to do to get the three points,” said Cuadrat on the eve of the game.

Gerard Nus’ NorthEast side are sitting third on the table with 8 points from four games and their run includes wins over Mumbai City FC and SC East Bengal. The Highlanders have been tough to break down and swift on the counter, with their centre-back pairing of Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox keeping things tight. The Bengaluru boss admitted that his attack will have their task cut out.

“NorthEast is a team that waits for the right opportunity during the games. They don’t take a lot of risks, they are very compact in the defence and they wait for the right moment to punish the opponent. Until now it has been working for them because they haven’t lost a game so far. We will work and try to beat them. We have been creating chances but need to do better with the quality of our last pass,” he added.

After two successive draws to begin their campaign, the Blues were solid in a 1-0 win over Chennaiyin last week in what was a thorough team effort. Telling contributions came from all areas on the pitch and it was a Sunil Chhetri penalty that settled things in Bengaluru’s favour. Cuadrat rang in as many as three changes to the starting line-up in that game and hinted that he could shuffle things once again on Wednesday.

“Yeah, of course, I will look to rotate players but I am not going to give away any clues about the team news. The players are doing very well, they are fit and we have no injuries.”

While NorthEast have been compact, Bengaluru too have been disciplined and Cuadrat hopes the team builds on it. “We have two clean sheets in three games. We are showing a lot of consistency in defence, we look like a very well organised team. We had a small bad period against FC Goa, but we were also very compact against Goa – a team that’s always going to be high up on the table.

“Over the last three years at Bengaluru FC, we have been a very consistent team with a very clear plan in our tactics. It is very difficult to play against us. But at the same time, I know that we have room for improvement and we are trying,” said Cuadrat.

The match kicks off at 7.30 pm on Tuesday, and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Disney+Hotstar and Jio TV.

(Bengaluru FC)