In what promises to be a battle between two of the most entertaining side’s in the League in the recent past, Bengaluru have come out on top in four of the last five meetings, managing to successfully control a Goa side that has been consistently lethal in attack.
Bengaluru FC will look to get the New Year off to the perfect start when they host League-leaders FC Goa in a mouth-watering clash at the Kanteerava Stadium, on Friday. Sitting third on the table, the game also marks the start of a hectic January for the Blues who play five games through the month, as they look to cover lost ground on Sergio Lobera’s men.
While the Blues will draw confidence from the fact that they have beaten Goa both times at the Fortress, Carles Cuadrat wants his team to be focussed against a side which he termed ‘clever’ in getting results. “Goa are a very clever team. They take advantage of the players that they have not only in attack but also in defence, and have managed to escape certain situations. But again, Goa is a team that plays good football and our games against them have always been exciting – a goal in extra-time in the final, an injury-time goal in Goa this year. Nishu (Kumar) got a red card and we won 3-0 here at the Fortress last year. I can remember the 4-3 in Fatorda. So, we can expect anything on Friday night,” said Cuadrat on the eve of the big game.
Billed as a contest between the best attack in the League traveling to take on the best defence, Friday’s fixture goes beyond just positions on the table. The Gaurs have topped the scoring charts under Lobera for two successive seasons and are currently atop the table with 22 goals in 2019-20. Ace striker Corominas (7 goals), who has bagged the Golden Boot in the last two seasons, is second behind ATK’s Roy Krishna (8 goals) on the top-scorer’s chart this season, and the visitors have had nine different players find the back of the net. On the other hand, the Blues boast of the strongest defence in the League, and despite conceding four goals in the last four games, Cuadrat’s strategy paired with a solid performance at the back has helped Bengaluru keep six clean sheets this season.
Not their usual free-scoring self this season, Bengaluru have struggled with goals, and while Cuadrat lamented the injury to striker Manuel Onwu, he said his team were doing well in creating chances that need to be finished.
“Football is about numbers, and we don’t have more in terms of goals scored. However, we have been creating the most chances in the games so far, which means we are arriving at the moment in every game. Even in the games against Mumbai and ATK that we lost, we had chances to take the lead and even chances right at the end. We have missed a foreign striker just like last season and we have tried many players in that position with the likes of Sunil, Udanta, Ashique, Semboi and Augusto. I must say that my attacking players have also been good defensively. Football is about balance, and we have been balanced to fight for a playoff position,” he added.
The Blues announced the signing of Jamaican striker Deshorn Brown on New Year’s Day, but the Bengaluru boss said he would only be available for the game against Jamshedpur on the 9th of January. Meanwhile, Onwu has made a recovery from his ankle injury and will be up for selection against Goa. FC Goa will be missing Sergio Lobera's presence on the touchline after the Spanish Coach was sent off after the full-time whistle post the Gaurs' 4-3 win over Chennaiyin FC last week. The game kicks off at 7.30 pm on Friday and will be telecast on the Star Sports Network and Hotstar.