The two form teams of the season meet in a clash that promises entertainment and guarantees goals.
Bengaluru FC have already qualified for the Hero ISL playoffs and their incredible record of five consecutive wins will surely motivate them to carry on the momentum when they face FC Pune City at their backyard on Friday. Pune City are also in fine form. They have four wins in their last five games, and are in second place — five points behind Bengaluru — having played the same number of games.
The match will also see an attacking brand of football with both teams scoring a combined 57 goals between themselves. But Bengaluru’s dominance has been such that even a loss would not see them lose their first place in the table. Pune’s Marcelinho, who has scored eight goals to Bengaluru skipper Sunil Chhetri’s nine, will also look to edge past the Indian skipper in a mini battle within the big fight.
“Tomorrow is also an opportunity for us to aim for the first place. We know what we can do and what we need to do, and maybe we can also confirm our position in the top four with a win here,” Pune’s assistant coach Vladica Grujic said.
“I don’t even remember when Bengaluru last lost a match. At this moment they are at the peak of their energy and confidence. It is very important that we remember we were the better team in the previous match against them until we went down to 10 men,” he added.
Their last game ended 3-1 in Bengaluru’s favour and they will look to do the same here and head coach Albert Roca said: “The most important thing for us now is to be there — to keep the momentum going and prove that we are rising and hoping to be better. It’s not easy mentally when you know you’re there but that’s the time other teams can punish you because they want to be in your situation.”
Bengaluru FC 1 – 0 FC Pune City (0 draws).
Udanta Singh (Bengaluru FC)
The pacey winger has played his part to a tee for his team this season. His quick runs and dribbling ability has caused headaches for opposition backlines. Udanta can also supply incisive passes for the forwards to feed on and has excellent vision with the ball at his feet. He has four assists so far and against a strong Pune side, will want to be at his deadly best.
Diego Carlos (FC Pune City)
The Brazilian has been one of the Stallions’ main players initiating attacks while going forward. Carlos is strong and pacey and almost always seems to create chances when in possession. Deft with his passing, he has two goals and an assist this season. Carlos also likes rising to the occasion during big games and will want to create problems for an organised Bengaluru defence.
Albert Roca will probably go for a 4-1-4-1 formation, which relies heavily on their midfield and flanks for proper service to the striker.
Bengaluru head coach Albert Roca on the importance of winning even after qualifying: “It will be important to keep on winning to keep the momentum. It is important to stay in a race and train to be even better. It is not easy mentally, because when you know you have sealed qualification, you become complacent. And that is the time when the others can punish you.”
Goalkeeper: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Defenders: Harmanjot Khabra, John Johnson, Juanan, Subhasish Bose
Midfielders: Lenny Rodrigues, Edu Garcia, Erik Paartalu, Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh
FC Pune City
Ranko Popovic may use a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Emiliano Alfaro spearheading the Stallions’ attack.
Goalkeeper: Vishal Kaith
Defenders: Sarthak Golui, Gurtej Singh, Rafael Lopez, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai
Midfielders: Diego Carlos, Adil Khan, Jonatan Lucca, Marcelinho, Ashique Kuruniyan
Forward: Emiliano Alfaro
FC Pune City assistant coach Vladica Grujic assessing the opponents: “Bengaluru FC are the best team in Hero ISL right now. We know their quality and the fact that they have qualified for the playoffs. We maybe have one more step left for qualifying and tomorrow is an opportunity to do that. We know how dangerous our opponent will be. But, we also know our quality. We know what the good things we can do are.”
- Bengaluru have not drawn a single game so far
- The Blues have won most matches this season (11) followed by the Stallions (9)
FC Pune City 1 – 3 Bengaluru FC (14th December 2017 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune)
Bengaluru FC: W W W W W
FC Pune City: W W L W W