ISL Analysis | FC Goa carve open Bengaluru’s defence with tactical masterpiece

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ISL Media

ISL Analysis | FC Goa carve open Bengaluru’s defence with tactical masterpiece

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SportsCafe Desk


Bengaluru's winning run came to a halt today as they lost to Goa, who exhibited beautiful passing to unlock Bengaluru's defence at will. Though the visitors equalized with two second-half goals, after being 3-1 down at the break, Goa's 63rd-minute strike turned to be the final nail in their coffin.

How FC Goa tactically outwitted Bengaluru

Bengaluru FC experienced their first real challenge in the debut campaign when they travelled to FC Goa’s den. The Gaurs, under new coach Sergio Lobera, are definitely a serious contender this season due to one simple reason - they know their strengths and weaknesses. In an extremely fluid setup where the offensive players can take each other’s position, Lobera has indoctrinated the passing philosophy amongst his players, despite being in charge for a short period of time.

Goa did their homework sincerely as they knew that the high-flying newcomers roared on their ability to press high and outrun their opponents. Goa’s biggest strength has been their ability to pass their opponents to death, no matter how tight the spaces and their high backline used the same to extract the attacking trio of Sunil Chhetri, Miku, and Udanta Singh away from the three-man midfield.

The brilliant combined passing accuracy of Bruno Pinheiro and Mohamed Ali was an incredible 85%  as Goa’s centre-halves kept the entire team safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t fall victim to callousness. Consequently, Goa’s two-man midfield, which essentially became three with Brandon Fernandez dropping down, let Corominas, Lanzarote, and Desai to explore Bengaluru’s defence with sublime one-touch football under pressure. The visitors were left clueless with no players in their close vicinity to mark. And the fact that Goa attempted nine shots on goal is a testament to their abilities in the final third.

Goa’s inability to deal with attack continues

Amidst all the beautiful passing and positioning, which is so easy on the eye, Goa are also petting a huge curse in their style of play - their inability to defend. All the goals that Goa conceded today were from defensive errors and if not for their brilliant ability to create innumerable chances, they would now be looking at yet another frustrating loss.

Bengaluru managed to come back from two goals and a man down to equalize, something that will concern Lobera for sure, who has a major chunk of the season to endure before qualifying for the playoffs. While the first one came from an unbelievable concentration lapse by defensive leader Pinheiro, Bengaluru’s second goal exposed Goa’s weakness from aerial duels.

The biggest chink in the armour is goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani. The former Dempo custodian maintained his consistency of blundering in front of the goal for the third time in as many games. After he was responsible for two goals against Mumbai City FC last game, it was his disappointing attempt to punch away a ball, which was at least another couple of arm’s lengths away, from a corner that saw Erik Paartalu get the second.

Bengaluru’s indomitable will

The newcomers have already created a storm in their first campaign by convincingly beating Mumbai and Delhi in the first two games. FC Goa were seen as the first real test for the side that had won the I-League twice in three seasons. After being outplayed for the first quarter of an hour, that was capped off with a goal, the Karnataka team fought back with a goal of their own through Miku in the 21st minute. Roca might not have been too worried after conceding a second as Goa’s defensive problems meant that they could easily eliminate the deficit, but it was the stupid red card that Sandhu picked up that changed the complexion of the game.

Most teams of the ISL would have crumbled with the odds stacked against them, but not Bengaluru. The visitors fought back valiantly and with goals from Paartalu and Miku clawed their way back into the game. While they might have ended up leaving the Fatorda without any points, Roca would definitely see the effort and never say die attitude of his team as a big, big positive. There is still a long way to go in the season and if they can keep up the intensity, there is absolutely no way that the Blues won’t find themselves in the semi-finals at the end of the campaign.

The Showstopper

There was never a time in the game when Goa looked out of ideas up front and it was for their number 8, Ferran ‘Coro’ Corominas. The forward scored an absolute peach of a goal to open his account before a witty late run in the box saw him controlling the ball with his chest to take it away from Bengaluru defenders inside the box, which had very little space before he slotted it in the near post.

While the third goal was all about the pass from midfielder Edu, Corominas still had a lot to do as he went around the goalkeeper with astonishing composure to drive home his third of the day. However, the Spaniard was much more than a goal scorer today, showing his La Liga pedigree in touches and vision. The forward dropped back at every chance he got to let Mandar Rao Desai and Manuel Lanzarote move up before he could make those unspotted late runs in the box to score. For a side like Goa, who will create the most number chances in a game, regardless of the opponent, Coro is the end product that will bring fruition to the complex build-up

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