Bengaluru FC and SC East Bengal lock horns for the first time in the Indian Super League and with both teams struggling for form on the pitch, tonight’s encounter might be the game that turns the fortunes of either side.
Bengaluru have won 3, drawn 3 and lost 3 of their 9 games played this season. They have lost their last 3 games against ATK Mohun Bagan, Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC managing to score only a single goal, from the penalty spot in their last game against the Islanders. With the side struggling for results and goals on the pitch, the board decided a change was required and parted ways with Carles Cuadrat who guided them to an ISL title. Naushad Moosa has been named the interim man in charge and has a stern test in the form of SC East Bengal awaiting him.
East Bengal hasn’t had a fairytale introduction to the ISL it has rather been very gloom for them. With just 1 win in 9 games, it is fair to say they have not lived up to the expectations. But they have been impressive in their last 2 matches, bagging their first-ever win in the ISL over Odisha FC before fighting out a fair 1-1 stalemate against FC Goa playing with 10 men. They will look to build on the positives while Bengaluru will look to get back to winning ways as they renew their rivalry for the first time in the Indian Super League on a Super Saturday.
3 Indian Players to look out for
Debjit Majumder has been the shining light for SC East Bengal with his performances under the bar. Standing behind a leaky defence Debjit has made 28 saves this season and is joint top on the most saves list. East Bengal has conceded 15 goals this season and will also miss Danny Fox their ace defender and their coach Robbie Fowler on the sidelines as both are suspended for tonight’s game and Debjit will have to outperform himself if SC East Bengal wants to walk away with full points from the tie.
Staying with the goalkeepers, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had a horrendous game against Mumbai City. While his positioning and lack of outing have been questioned for the second goal Bengaluru conceded, the third can easily be attributed to his mistake in gripping the ball from Ogbeche’s header. The Indian no. 1 is struggling for form in the ISL and has let in 12 goals and while it has been an impressive season for the other Indian goalkeepers. Gurpreet will need to be on top of his game as his place as India’s no. 1 could be under threat.
Bengaluru has struggled for goals off lately managing to score only once in their last 3 games all which ended in defeat. They had scored 11 goals in their first 6 games but have struggled to find the back of the net since then. Their only goal in the last 3 games came from a penalty converted by none other than captain fantastic Sunil Chhetri. Chhetri has been the highest goal scorer for the Blues this season with 4 goals under his belt and the Bengaluru faithfuls will be looking up to their captain once again to bail them out of jail and end their goal-scoring woes.
3 Foreign Players to look out for
Bright Enobakhare has been SC East Bengal’s brightest star since joining them in January. Scoring 2 goals in 2 games he has got Indian football fans excited and his goal against FC Goa, going past 5 defenders before scoring has definitely made people sit up and take notice. He will look to continue on his merry goal-scoring ways and torment Bengaluru’s defence to the fullest.
Jacques Maghoma has scored 3 goals in the ISL and is SC East Bengal’s highest goal scorer this campaign. He has also got an assist to his tally. The Congolese midfielder along with Pilkington has been Robbie Fowler’s go-to men whenever his side has found themselves in sticky situations. Red and Gold faithfuls will pin their hopes on the trio of Bright, Maghoma and Pilkington to secure maximum points against the Blues.
To deal with the attacking threat that SC East Bengal poses, Bengaluru will have to rely on Dimas Delgado who is likely to operate as a defensive screen. The deep-lying midfielder will have to protect a leaky Blues defence that has already conceded 12 goals. Along with his defensive duties, Delgado is a threat on the set pieces and East Bengal will have to be wary of him.
Team News and Injuries
Ashique Kuruniyan suffered a facial injury while playing against Odisha FC and has had to undergo surgery and is yet to be declared fit. Interestingly Bengaluru has lost all 3 games after Ashique was sidelined and it will be intriguing to see if they can end the spell of 3 straight losses. They will have to do so not only without Ashique but will also miss the services of Harmanjot Khabra who is suspended for the game. SC East Bengal will miss the services of Lalramchullova and Loken Metei both sidelined with injuries and Danny Fox is suspended. East Bengal will also miss Robbie Fowler on the sidelines as the former Liverpool striker and SC East Bengal’s coach is suspended for the game.
Bengaluru FC vs SC East Bengal Head to Head
While both sides are meeting for the first time in the ISL they have locked horns in the I League and the Super Cup. They met each other 8 times in the I League and East Bengal has 5 of those ties while Bengaluru has won 3. They met in the 2018 Super Cup final where Bengaluru beat East Bengal 4-1 to take the trophy home. They are yet to play out a draw and the neutrals could be in a for a treat tonight.
Bengaluru FC (4-3-3): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Leon Augustine, Pratik Chaudhuri, Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Suresh Wangjam, Cleiton Silva, Deshorn Brown, Sunil Chhetri.
SC East Bengal (4-2-3-1): Debjit Majumder (GK), Scott Neville, Raju Gaikwad, Rana Gharami, Narayan Das, Milan Singh, Matty Steinmann, Bright Enobakhare, Jacques Maghoma, Anthony Pilkington, Mohammed Rafique.
East Bengal and Bengaluru have never played out a draw but given how both teams are currently struggling for form a draw could be very well on the cards. There will be goals given how both defences have consistently leaked goals. It could very well be a 1-1 stalemate between the two sides tonight.