Bengaluru FC is without a win in their last 8 matches and they are yet to win a football game in 2021. SC East Bengal has only 1 win their last 5, their last victory was over the Blues in the reverse fixture. Sitting at 8th and 10th respectively with just 2 points between them, Bengaluru and the Red and Gold brigade will be itching for 3 valuable points at the Tilak Maidan tonight as they look to close the gap on the top 4 teams.
Bengaluru squandered a 2 goal advantage in their last game by conceding two late goals in the span of 5 minutes. Bengaluru is struggling this season and after having relieved Carles Cuadrat of his duties and giving Naushad Moosa interim charge, things are still looking bleak for the Blues. They will be looking to get back to winning ways and keep the top 4 within reach and anything other than 3 points against SC East Bengal could hurt their playoff aspirations.
SC East Bengal will be looking to do the double over a Bengaluru team which looks really down on confidence. Matti Steinmann’s 20th-minute strike was enough to secure a win the reverse fixture for the Kolkata side but goals have been hard to come by. The Red and Gold Brigade has only managed to score 12 goals in 14 matches, 4 in their last 5 including the win over Bengaluru. Robbie Fowler will be worried about the lack of finishing and they will need to find those goals from somewhere if they want to make the playoffs in their debut season.
3 Indian Players to look out for
Debjit Majumder has been SC East Bengal’s saviour this season under the bar. The diminutive shot-stopper has 49 saves to his name this season, the most by any goalkeeper in the league. Debjit has kept SC East Bengal competitive in the league with his sharp reflexes and he will need to conjure more saves out of his hat tonight when he faces the likes of Sunil Chhetri and Cleiton Silva.
Sunil Chhetri is ageing like fine wine. The 36-year-old has scored 5 goals this season and is the highest goal-getter for Bengaluru. Bengaluru unravelled against Hyderabad after Sunil was taken off showing just how indispensable he is for the Blues. Bengaluru is in a downward spiral at the moment and they will be looking at their Captain fantastic to produce something special and save their skins.
Leon Augustine has been mostly used as a substitute by Bengaluru. He was handed a start in their last game and the former Bengaluru FC Academy graduate repaid the faith shown in him by grabbing his first ISL goal. Visibly emotional after grabbing his first senior goal, Augustine will look to build on his performance against the Nizams and also provide Moosa with attacking options down the wings. The pacy winger could make the lives of Scot Neville and Danny Fox very difficult tonight.
3 Foreign Players to look out for
Cleiton Silva has been a shining star for Bengaluru in his debut ISL season. The 34-year-old Brazilian has scored 4 goals and has also contributed to creating another 3. His partnership and communication with Bengaluru’s premier goal scorer Sunil Chhetri were on display in their last game when Cleiton’s assist was converted by Sunil. Both of them will need to link up more and Cleiton could very well change the game single-handedly in Bengaluru’s favour.
Anthony Pilkington was brought in to score goals and the Irishman was wasteful in front of goal against FC Goa. He failed to score from a penalty and was also guilty of missing out on some great chances he managed to get at the end of. Fowler lacks goal-scoring options on the bench and he will be pinning his hope on the former Wigan, Norwich and Huddersfield man to find the back of the net against Gurpreet and co.
Bright Enobakhare’s goal dribbling past 5 defenders and eventually rounding off the keeper produced a moment that will be part of ISL archives for ages. The Nigerian made a bright start to his ISL career but have looked a bit off-colour lately. He was responsible for reviving SC East Bengal’s faltering campaign but has gone 5 games without a goal now and he will be longing to break his goal drought and bring all 3 points home.
Team News and Injuries
Bengaluru will miss out on Ashique Kuruniyan who has been out with a facial fracture injury, likewise, for SC East Bengal they will be missing Loken Metei and Lalramchullova, both sidelined with a long time injury. Rest there haven’t been any new injuries but Xisco has joined Bengaluru in the Winter Transfer window but he is yet to feature in a game. East Bengal too strengthened their squad with the signings of Sarthak Golui and Sourav Das on deadline day along with the signings of Ankit Mukherjee, Ajay Chhetri and Subrata Paul who have joined the Red and Gold brigade over the January transfer window.
Bengaluru FC vs SC East Bengal Head to Head
SC East Bengal continued their dominance over Bengaluru in the head to head tally after their first encounter in ISL on 9th January. Having met each other on 9 occasions, East Bengal has won 6 of them and Bengaluru 3. They are yet to play out a draw and with both teams looking for a win it is highly unlikely their 10th game against each other would be a stalemate.
Bengaluru FC (4-4-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Harmanjot Khabra, Pratik Chaudhuri, Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Leon Augustine, Erik Paartalu, Suresh Wangjam, Cleiton Silva, Kristian Opseth, Sunil Chhetri.
SC East Bengal (4-2-3-1): Debjit Majumder (GK), Scott Neville, Sarthak Golui, Danny Fox, Narayan Das, Ajay Chhetri, Ankit Mukherjee, Bright Enobakhare, Jacques Maghoma, Anthony Pilkington, Harmanpreet Singh.
Both teams will be gunning for the win because anything less than a win and it will hurt their chances at a top 4 finish. Given SC East Bengal’s struggle in front of goal, it will be advantage Bengaluru if they can keep their heads and close out the game. A 2-1 victory in favour of the Blues.