ISL: Bengaluru FC take on in-form champions Mumbai City FC

After a thrilling 4-2 win over NEUFC in the opening match, Bengaluru FC has been struggling, losing 1-3 to Odisha FC and a lackluster 1-1 draw against Kerala Blasters.

Bengaluru FC's training session ahead of the ISL fixture against Mumbai City FC on Saturday; Credit: Twitter/@bengalurufc
By Sreejith C R | Dec 4, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Bengaluru FC takes on in-form defending champions Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) fixture in Bambolim stadium on Saturday. The Blues have had a mixed start to the season, having registered a win, a defeat and a draw in their opening three games. Meanwhile Mumbai City have won twice and lost once. A win will help the Islanders to the top of the points table above Chennaiyin FC while a win for Bengaluru will help them overtake their opponents in the league.

Bengaluru FC started their campaign with a thrilling 4-2 win against NorthEast United FC before losing 3-1 to Odisha FC and then played out a lacklustre 1-1 draw against Kerala Blasters in the previous game. Head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli has plenty of issues to address, the most important one being the poor performance from the senior players.

Bengaluru’s talisman Sunil Chhetri hasn’t found his scoring boots so far and is struggling to get into rhythm. The back line is still unsettled with the coach still trying to find out a solid back four. Meanwhile the lone bright spot has been left-back Ashique Kuruniyan. The Kerala-born footballer has started all three games so  far and his marauding runs down the left flank has been causing all sorts of problems to the opposition. 

The 24-year-old scored at both ends against Kerala Blasters as he broke the deadlock six minutes from time before scoring an own goal to share points. Midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam has been a livewire for the Blues. The India international does all the hard work and is willing to put in the extra yard, but it’s time the youngster starts delivering more going forward.

“The morale in the camp is very good, because we’ve analysed the games we played so far and we see an improvement in certain aspects. But we still need to work on finishing the chances we get, which is what our next step is, as a team.”

“We are playing Mumbai, which is very motivating for us as it is for every other team, because everyone wants to beat the champions of the league,” said Bengaluru FC boss Pezzaiuoli , ahead of the game at the GMC Athletic Stadium.

Mumbai City’s wingers are in top form

“Mumbai are a team with good players, they have wingers who press very high, create a lot of chances and make things difficult. We will have to be sharp in our duels and show more intensity in winning possession.

“When they win the ball, we will have to work hard because Mumbai is a team that is fast in the transition as well,” Pezzaiuoli added.

On the other hand, Mumbai started their campaign with a thumping 3-0 win over FC Goa before going down 3-1 against Hyderabad FC. However, Des Buckingham’s side showed everyone why they are the champions with a brilliant 5-1 win over the mighty ATK Mohun Bagan.

It was a tactical masterclass from Buckingham as hid side thrashed ATKMB in the previous game. The English head coach’s decision to bring in the young Vikram Pratap Singh to instill more pace going forward made the difference. The 19-year-old scored a brace inside the opening half-hour mark before Igor Angulo, Mourtada Fall and Bipin Singh got on the score sheet.

Winger Bipin was another star performer against the Mariners as he registered two assists and a goal. Both of Mumbai’s wingers were too hot to handle for the ATKMB defence and Bengaluru FC’s full backs will have a tough job in hand on Saturday.

Midfielder’s Apuia and Ahmed Jahouh have been doing a fine job in front of the back line and that allows attacking midfielder Cassinho to play with more freedom up front. The Brazilian has been linking up pretty well with Angulo.

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