One of the marquee ties in the Indian Super League (ISL 2021-22) calendar every year, the Bengaluru FC – FC Goa clash at the Bambolim stadium on Saturday will pit teams that are placed a lowly ninth and tenth respectively.
Generally accustomed to competing for the top prize, the two sides have had horror starts to the season; BFC has been winless in its last four matches, including three defeats. Goa, after losing its first three games, barely managed a victory over SC East Bengal, a wild encounter which finished 4-3 in its favour.
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Juan Ferrando will be hoping for his side to build on the winning momentum, but remained vary of the threat from Marco Pezzaiuoli’s team. “In these matches, there are no favourites, every team wants to win the games and have the capability to win it,” he opined on match-eve.
“You’ve seen the results: 6-4, 3-4. So, there are no particular favourites. Personally, the more important thing is, the players need to work as a team, which they did in the last game, and it was a pleasure to watch them play like that,” he added.
Alberto Noguera’s form, who scored two in the last game, and Jorge Ortiz, who scored one and assisted two, should encourage Ferrando. But below-par defending has meant his wards have shipped 11 goals so far. The Spaniard, however, is one who believes in the collective responsibility to defend as a team and places great importance in a co-ordinated pressing game help shield his defenders.
Even as he continues to miss the controlling presence of Brandon Fernandes in the centre, he shifted to a back-three against SC East Bengal, dropping defender Dylan Fox to include creator Edu Bedia. What he does against BFC, a side which tries to press high, remains to be seen.
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BFC has looked similarly disjointed, with its midfield build-up play severely lacking. Pezzaiuoli pointed to the absence of centre-back Yrondu Musavu-King but remained hopeful that the outfit will find its attacking rhythm, even against a side which he called the “best team in the league with the ball.”
Encouragingly, striker Prince Ibara, who had a fine first-half against Mumbai City FC before limping out injured, is back in training, and so is Musavu-King. Winger Udanta Singh will however miss the tie.
“We beat NorthEast United 4-2, and since then our opponents have had fewer chances in each game,” he said. “Hyderabad had half-a-chance and they scored. We had three or four chances and didn’t. This is an area we have to work on. It’s a team effort, and we’re working towards it,” he said.