Bengaluru FC has been surprising Indian Football fans since its inception; from winning the I-league in their very first season to reaching the semi-finals of the Durand Cup with their reserves, recently. But in the preceding season, Bengaluru FC shocked everyone, as for the very first time they failed to reach the knockout rounds in the Indian Super League.
In the last season’s ISL, the Karnataka – based football club finished 7th in the table, 9 points off the top 4 spots. Spanish tactician Carles Cuadrat was sacked mid-season due to a disastrous display by the blues. Naushad Moosa, who was an Indian assistant coach in Cuadrat’s coaching staff took over the role of an interim coach but it didn’t change the fortunes for the club. To replace Cuadrat club appointed German-born Italian coach Marco Pezziauoli.
Former Eintracht Frankfurt technical director and Hoffienham manager Marco Pezziauoli boasts of developing players like Toni Kroos, Andre Silva and many more. Marco’s presence in a club like Bengaluru FC, which always aims to promote youth development, will prove to be fruitful. As all ISL teams are getting stronger by the day, Marco has a major hurdle of climbing up the ISL table as the season progresses and giving the fame that the club of this stature absolutely deserves.
Bengaluru FC have been active throughout the transfer window, signing numerous foreigners and quality Indian players making their team have a very good squad depth. After their heroics in the recently concluded Durand Cup, Bengaluru FC can now be considered as one of the favourite clubs for the title race of the Indian Super League.
Assesment of Bengaluru FC’s transfer window
Bengaluru FC had an uphill task of rebuilding their squad as all of the foreign players except Cleiton Silva bid adieu to the club and even some of the key Indian players like Harmanjot Khabra and Rahul Bheke left the club. Bengaluru FC were busy in this transfer window and have signed Yrondu-Musavu King, Alan Costa, Prince Ibara, Bruno Ramirez, and Iman Basafa as a replacement for all the foreigners who left the club. They got their hands on some of the quality Indian players like 2 time ISL winner Jayesh Rane, Real Kashmir star Danish Farooq and Sarthak Golui who has featured for the national side regularly.
The new foreign contingent of Bengaluru FC appears decent on paper as do the players’ profiles. Their experienced Gabonese centre-back King has played all across Europe and Africa and has also played with the likes of N’golo Kante who is now one of the top players in world football. The towering Congolese centre forward Prince Ibara, who regularly features for his national team has found scoring boots wherever he has been. He is a goal-poacher and can be a major asset in set-pieces.
Bengaluru FC is flocked with quality midfielders and forwards, this will help the club as the season progresses, but when it comes to defense they don’t have an established Indian centre back. With such depth in the squad, injuries of the players shouldn’t be a major concern for the club throughout the season.
Transfer window rating – 7.5/10
Two-time ISL golden glove winner, the only Indian play the UEFA Europa League and National team’s first-choice goalkeeper, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu continues to stand in between sticks for Bengaluru FC for the 5th consecutive season. Gurpreet holds the record of having a maximum number of clean sheets in ISL.
The second choice goal-keeper for Bengaluru FC would be Lara Sharma who impressed us with his heroics in the Durand Cup and stood out as one of the reliable players in the competition. But it would be very difficult for him to get a place in the starting xi as the veteran Gurpreet is at the helm. Sharon Padattil who graduated from the club’s academy is the third member of the goalkeepers’ union.
Bengaluru FC has registered 11 defenders for ISL in which there are players like Ashique, Ajit, Parag, Muirang who can acquire different places in the defense line which shows the depth they have in defense which will eventually help them as the season proceeds. Their defense is a very good combination of experience and the youth and it has got experienced defenders like Alan Costa, King, Sarthak, and Pratik who have experience of football for a good amount of time. At the same time, there’s the flow of young blood in their defense in the form of Ajit Kumar, Parag Shrivas, Ashique Kuruniyan, Naorem Roshan, Biswa Darjee, and Namgyal Bhutia. The good amalgamation of youth and experience will flourish in their games.
Bengaluru FC has registered 8 midfielders for the upcoming ISL season. In the midfield, Bengaluru FC has made a maximum number of signings namely Jayesh Rane, Rohit Kumar, Danish Farooq, Iman Basafa, and Brazilian midfielder Bruno Ramirez Silva, whereas the club retained Suresh Wangjam, Ajay Chhetri, and their academy graduate Damaith Lyngdoh.
The focus will be on the new foreign recruitments and Suresh Wangjam who has been featuring regularly for the national team. We can’t rule out the likes of Jayesh Rane and Danish Farooq who have been regular features in the country’s domestic football. Ajay Chhetri and Lyngdoh have also impressed in the Durand Cup. It would be a headache for Marco to pick players from this department.
Talismanic Striker and Club’s record all-time top-scorer Sunil Chhetri continues to feature in the blue skin for the 7th consecutive season and once again he will look to register his name on the scoresheet for maximum times. Brazilian Cleiton Silva who joined the blues last season continues his stay backed by his prolific performance, scoring 7 goals and providing 4 assists in the last ISL. He has been the top assist provider for the club last season and has developed a very good partnership with Sunil Chhetri. Bengaluru FC has added Bidyashagar Singh to their ranks who was the top scorer in the last season’s I-League and has scored 3 goals for the Blues so far.
The blues forward line is decorated with the likes of Leon Augustine and Udanta Singh who can cause problems to the opposition’s fullback with their fiery pace. Leon’s presence was felt in each of the games in the Durand Cup with his goal scoring and assist providing skills, whereas Udanta was off-color for the last two seasons after having a dream run in the 2017-18 season. Blues have signed a young and tall Congolese striker named Prince Ibara who regularly features for his national team and brings in the wealth of experience of playing in different parts of Europe. Apart from that BFC has the luxury of having young forwards like Sivashakti, Akshadeep Singh, and Edmund Lalrindika.
How Bengaluru FC can lineup
Strengths and Weaknesses
Bengaluru FC’s strength undoubtedly lies in having experienced national team players like Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Along with that, they are one of the best offensive sides in the league with the likes of Udanta, Leon Augustine, Sivashakti Narayanan, and many more. They have a huge wealth of experience in the foreign contingent who feature in midfield and defense. Alan Costa has played top-flight football in Brazil whereas Yrondu Musavu King has the experience of playing in top-flight and second division leagues in Europe. When it comes to the heart of the pitch the presence of Bruno Ramirez and Iman Basafa will be invaluable. Bengaluru FC has a lot of options in the attack with the inclusion of promising youngsters.
When it comes to weaknesses they don’t have a well-established Indian centre-back and lack of experience in full backs can be a cause of concern for the blues. Though Bengaluru FC has a flock of midfielders they are either central or defensive and they lack an attacking midfielder who can create chances. With the arrival of a new coach and the inclusion of new foreign and domestic players, it’s going to take a while for them to completely adjust to the new style of play.
Probable finish in the league table
Bengaluru FC has played three pre-season friendlies so far against Jamshedpur FC, Cheniayyan FC and against FC Goa, but they couldn’t get any satisfying results out of these three friendly games. But that doesn’t mean that they are going to have a bad season. A professional club like Bengaluru FC always reflects on this kind of game and they look forward not to repeating the mistakes as they proceed to the season.
It won’t be an easy season for Bengaluru FC as FC Goa looks solid after their champions league campaign. One can never count off heavy clubs like Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan. Clubs like Hyderabad, Jamshedpur, and Odisha have strengthened themselves by adding good foreigners and retaining young Indians in their squad. At the same time, Bengaluru FC has revamped their squad with the inclusion of a new manager. Bengaluru FC have the advantage of playing the AFC Cup and Durand Cup and some of their players were with the national team setup getting some match practice. Further, the games in Durand Cup and AFC Cup may have helped the players to get familiar with a new style of play. In spite of some foreign and Indian players joining the team in the nick of time, we may still expect Bengaluru FC to finish in the Top 6.