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Blues look to turn corner as 2021 begins with Mumbai City FC clash

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)

Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru FC side host Mumbai City FC in what is the Blues’ first game of the calendar year, at the Fatorda Stadium, in Goa, on Tuesday. Bengaluru are currently fifth on the League table, seven points adrift of second-placed Mumbai City and the Spaniard says he expects another good encounter against a Sergio Lobera-led side.

While Bengaluru come into this game with back-to-back, and only, defeats of this campaign, Cuadrat is positive that the team has all the right attributes to turn the tide against Lobera’s men. “Analysing the two games that we lost, we could have got points from both of them. We were creating several good chances and that’s the positive thing. We had several openings to get a goal and we had different players involved rather than depending on just one player. Football is a game of dynamics and we will try to change the dynamic tomorrow.”

Mumbai City FC, fresh off a 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters on Saturday, have scored 13 times this season, and sit two points off the top. However, Cuadrat mentioned that his side have a plan to try and halt the Islanders’ charge for the summit. “Lobera and I have played against each other a lot of times in the League. Since moving to Mumbai, he has made his team play the same kind of football he did at Goa. Mumbai are in a good position right now, and have been able to get points consistently, which makes them a strong opponent. But we have a plan of our own and we will try to execute it. I am expecting both teams to put on a good show tomorrow.”

Since losing their opening fixture to NorthEast United, Lobera’s men have put together an unbeaten streak of seven games that has seen them sit on second position and a point behind leaders ATK Mohun Bagan. In Adam le Fondre, Mumbai have the League’s second highest scorer and the Bengaluru backline will have their work cut out.

Cuadrat also stressed on the importance of scoring first in games like this, which could put the Blues in a better position to take all points. “The first goal is very important, not only in ISL but in any league in the world. When you score first in a game, you force the other team to open up and then you get space behind to score on the counter-attack. When you concede first, it gets difficult because the other team becomes compact.”

The Blues, known for their defensive strength, have conceded more goals than expected and Cuadrat says his side have been working to get tighter at the back. “While we do not concede too many chances in our games and have a good defensive structure, we have unfortunately been conceding too many this season. The team knows that there is room for improvement and we are working on that. Hopefully, we improve in the next few rounds of the League.”

While Erik Paartalu misses the game after picking up a suspension for getting four yellow cards and Ashique Kuruniyan is a long term absentee as he recovers from an injury, the Blues’ boss mentioned that all other players are available for selection. “Udanta [Singh] had some muscle issues earlier. In the game against ATK Mohun Bagan, he had a problem that saw him come off at half-time. He is fit and available for the game tomorrow.”

Kick off between the Blues and Mumbai City FC is scheduled for 7.30 pm on Tuesday, and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV.

(Bengaluru FC)