ISL Analysis | Steve Coppell masterminds Jamshedpur’s tactical win in Bengaluru

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ISL Analysis | Steve Coppell masterminds Jamshedpur’s tactical win in Bengaluru

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Faizan Qadiri


Bengaluru FC succumbed to their second home loss in as many games after Rahul Bheke, in injury time, brought down Sameehg Doutie, in the penalty box, and Trindade Goncalves converted the spot-kick. The visitors, in fifth place, are now just two points behind Bengaluru (2nd) with a game in hand.

Preparation is the key for high flying Jamshedpur 

Going into the game, it was blatantly evident that Steve Coppell had done his homework well. Knowing that Chhetri and Miku both have the habit of coming in from the left flank, most of Bengaluru’s attacks tend to start from the right where Udanta has the capability to torment defences with his pace and skill. Coppell, who started the game with a true 4-3-3, ensured that it was Jerry, who was playing in the front three, cut off any option of switching the play to the left for Subhasish Bose as the Bikey and Shouvik were occupied with Bengaluru’s main goal threats. 

That completely eliminated the creation of any sort of real chance for the hosts. Apart from a few crosses, it was mostly mundane in the attacking third. The only real chance that Bengaluru had in the first half came when Shouvik decided to go on a forward foray, only to lose the ball. As the ball reached Erik Paartalu, 40 yards from the Jamshedpur goal, the Australian for once couldn’t find his bearings and failed to pick up a wide open Miku on the left flank. 

Lack of tactical awareness costs Bengaluru yet again

Bengaluru for once in the tournament looked lost for ideas as any sort of momentum they built came to an abrupt end in the final third. With the four centre-backs and three midfield players clogging up the zone in-front of the box, there was no way they would have been able to pierce the defence through the middle. It was just Udanta who was trying to get to the byline and make something happen by dragging at least one centre-back, usually Tiri, out of position and putting crosses in. Bengaluru have been a threat all season from corners but despite having almost 70% of the possession, the hosts could only manage two corners in the first 45. 

Albert Roca did make a tactical change by keeping Chhetri on the left after the break. This resulted in the full backs getting more involved and Jamshedpur getting pushed backyards and yards as time went on. While the visitors did create some chances on the counter as the game progressed, they were pushed well within their own box. Jamshedpur, right from the get-go, looked like they had come to Karnataka for a point and thanks to a mixture of tactics and grit, they will go back to home with all three points and apart from the Bengaluru faithful no one can dispute that it was well earned. 

The showstopper

There could only be one today and he wasn’t even on the pitch. While some fans might not be happy with Coppell’s tactics, there is no disputing that he knows how to get results. After guiding an underwhelming Kerala to the final last year, he looks to be doing the same with Jamshedpur. In the six games, four away from home, that the Men of Steel have played, they have conceded just two goals and scored two. Yet they now sit just two points of second-placed Bengaluru in fifth place with a game in hand. 

After a resolute defensive show in the first half, Coppell sent his men out with an aggressive intent in the second-half and it showed. Three chances in the 10 minutes were enough to put Bengaluru under serious pressure and, for most of the second half, their midfielders looked hesitant in making too many forward runs. Apart from a couple of individual mistakes by Shouvik, the hosts never got a sniff of a goal. When Roca finally decided to go for it with six minutes on the clock, by taking off two defenders for attack-minded players, Coppell, who had brought on Sameehg Doutie a couple of minutes earlier, replaced Jerry with Siddharth Singh, hoping to get something on the counter. They will always be questioned about their style of play but if teams don’t find a way to break down Jamshedpur, forget Goa they could be the real contenders for the title.

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