The saying goes like this, “to be the best, you got to beat the best”.
On the night of 28th October at Fatorda, the Orange men of FC Goa will look to chase away the Monday Blues as they take on Bengaluru FC in a repeat of last season’s final of the Indian Super League.
Over the last two seasons, the men from the City of Palaces have been one of the most dominant forces in the Indian Super League. Having finished the 2017/18 season as runners-up they then went on to clinch the title last season overcoming the Gaurs in a hotly-contested final.
Sergio Lobera’s orange army have not been many steps behind and are one of only two teams in ISL to have smacked four past the Blues in a game.
Having blitzed the league with flair and attacking impetus, the Gaurs put up another clinic in their opening game against Chennaiyin FC. With 8 Indians in the starting line-up the Gaurs dominated the game throughout and carved out an impressive 3-0 win.
They not only showed off their freestyle mentality whilst going forward but also resoluteness at the back as the defence looked unperturbed for the majority of the game.
With Ahmed Jahouh returning from suspension and the duo of Hugo Boumous and Edu Bedia also in consideration for a spot, the Gaurs will look to hit the next level in the game against Bengaluru.
Goa’s attacking verve will surely be a test of early validity for Bengaluru’s defence of the title.
The Challenge Ahead
Bengaluru started their title-defence with a goalless draw against North-East United. Whilst the Blues enjoyed the lions’ share of possession and dictated the tempo of the game, they failed to capitalise on the chances created – not looking all that clinical in the final third.
However, with players such as Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Dimas Delgado and Raphael Augusto in their ranks, you would be safe to bet that they will soon shake off their early-season rust.
The last game saw Bengaluru being without the services of Erik Paartalu and Albert Serrán – both being ruled out because of injuries. It will be interesting to see what line-up the Blues will put forth in their game against the Gaurs.
In recent times, Bengaluru have had an upper hand over Sergio Lobera’s men. Whilst both the teams finished level on points at the end of the league stage, the Blues got the better of them on all the three occasions the sides had met.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Bengaluru win 2-1 to inflict upon the Gaurs, their only loss at home in the league stage.
The Gaffer’s Call
“I am very optimistic to use my full squad including Edu Bedia and Ahmed Jahouh. The Chennaiyin game is in the past. We need to look forward as we have a difficult match coming up. Last season, BFC were at a very good level. And I think Goa has also increased their level. We finished with the same points as BFC,” stated Head Coach Sergio Lobera ahead of the game against Bengaluru.
“I want to continue the improvement and the difference that was between Goa and BFC two, three years ago, (has been diminished) as we have improved. For us, it is a big challenge as I think BFC is the best team in the league.”
Speaking about the loss to Bengaluru in the final, the gaffer added, “The loss in the final is in the past. I am very proud of my players who played in the final as they performed well. I hope in the next match we perform as good as we did in the final. We have to improve defending in set-pieces. But again I am happy with the performance in the final.”