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Bengaluru look to close gap as Chennaiyin visit Bambolim

Bengaluru FC forward Sunil Chhetri in training. (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)
Bengaluru FC forward Sunil Chhetri in training. (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)

Marco Pezzaiuoli and his Bengaluru FC side are back in Indian Super League action on Wednesday as they take on Chennaiyin FC at the GMC Athletic Stadium, in Bambolim. The Blues are on a six-game unbeaten run, having picked up two wins and four draws in that period, with the first of those victories being the 4-2 win over Chennaiyin FC late last year.

However, the fixture comes just two days after a COVID-hit Bengaluru played out a 1-1 draw with FC Goa, and Pezzaiuoli reckons his side will need to bank on their character against a Chennaiyin FC side that will be tough to break down.

While Pezzaiuoli’s side shared points with Goa, Chennaiyin FC come into the game off the back of a narrow 2-1 defeat of NorthEast United. Bozidar Bandovic’s side shrugged off a loss of form, winning two of their last four encounters. Pezzaiuoli maintained that Chennaiyin are a strong and compact team, and will pose a tough challenge to his side.

“Chennaiyin switch up the way they play, changing formations multiple times and try new things. I think they have all foreigners available to them, which is also an advantage, because we don’t have all our foreigners available. In Nerijus Valskis, they also have a new striker, who has experience playing in the League,” said the Blues’ boss, speaking to the press.

Bengaluru will continue to miss key players through injury, while Pezzaiuoli confirmed that at least one more player has tested positive, and will be unavailable for Wednesday’s clash. Despite the setback, the Bengaluru boss insisted that his side have shown resilience over the last few weeks, and that Wednesday’s match can be won with the kind of mentality his team has shown.

“It’s tough to not know which players I have available to me until three hours before we board the bus for the game. Some of my players exit their quarantine on the morning of the match, and these are only some of the problems we have faced. When you consider them, we did well under the circumstances against FC Goa. The boys have shown incredible mentality and character and those that are ready to take the pitch will be giving 100%,” Pezzaiuoli said.

Chennaiyin FC currently sit in fourth position with 18 points from 12 games while the Blues are in eighth place, only four points behind. Bengaluru will be without midfielder Danish Farooq, who picked up his fourth yellow card of the season against FC Goa.

“We have a few problems in terms of personnel. Ashique came off with a stuff quadricep and Cleiton suffered a contusion on his knee, and they will be late calls on Wednesday. We are also not sure if Musavu-King can play any further part this season, because of his injury. There are problems every day, but I have a huge amount of respect for my team for their personality. They have shown a lot of character,” said Pezzaiuoli.

Considering his side played only two days ago, Pezzaiuoli said he could take a defensive approach to the game. “Tactically, we may need to drop back, defend and look to catch Chennaiyin on the counter. There are a lot of factors affecting this game, and we will go with what best suits the situation.”

Kick-off between Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC is scheduled to take place at 7.30 pm on Wednesday, and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.

(Bengaluru FC)