The Spanish tactician is optimistic of his team holding on to a win in the return leg in Kolkata.

Ahead of what promises to be a gritty affair between Bengaluru FC and ATK later this weekend, Blues head coach Carles Cuadrat addressed the media and he was joined by Spanish midfielder Dimas Delgado.

The visitors will be going into this fixture on the back of an inspired 1-0 victory at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the first leg. 

About The Second Leg 

“We expect a very tough game for sure. It’s the most important game for Kolkata in the last three seasons because they were not in the playoffs in the last two semi-finals. We will work in this match to try to make it positive for us.”

“The game was at that moment going towards 2-0, but it wasn’t happening. We know that we can go there and draw and we will be in the final. We can even lose 2-1 or 3-2 and we’ll still be in the final.”

About Albert Serran 

“He will try to be with the team, he is working in the recovery, let’s see how it goes. You know that this defence has given us a lot of consistency throughout the season. The injury to Raphael (Augusto) earlier in the season made us focus more on playing Albert every game. If you remember last season with Xisco (Hernandez), sometimes we put Albert and sometimes Xisco. We have made a record in Indian football with 10 clean-sheets and with the first leg against ATK that became 11.” 

Appeal Against Nishu Kumar’s Red Card

“I don’t think that we have an official answer for that, but if it hasn’t happened until now I guess he will be out,” said Carles Cuadrat.

A Chat With Kevaughn Frater

“It was just about tactical situations. He is a great player, he has very good skills, but his tactical formation hasn’t been so good. He is helping us a lot. Every time he has been in the game he has created something, so that’s good.”

Tactical Approach For The Second Leg

“I don’t want to talk a lot about our tactics. We will try to get the result and if we arrive at the 90 minutes at 0-0, it’s going to be hard because anything can happen. We will try to manage the game in such a way that we can get a result and without a lot of exposure.” 

About The Season So Far

“It has been the kind of season where circumstances have changed and we’ve had to deal with some situations, but that’s a part of football. I think that the players have been giving great answers. Last season, we were scoring a lot of goals in the late stages of games because we had the mental power and it creates a very good dynamic,” quoted Carles Cuadrat.

“This season it’s been the other way – at Goa, against Mumbai. We have tried to be compact and it has worked in some games. You try to get solutions, but at the same time, the work of a coach is to control as many parts of the game as possible. It’s about players and what’s going on with the squad.”

“They have been getting the points to put us in the playoffs, even with the two main foreign reinforcements (Manuel Onwu and Raphael Augusto) missing for more than half of the season.” 

Versatility Of The Players 

“We are lucky to have players like Nishu, (Harmanjot) Khabra, Rahul (Bheke), Suresh (Singh Wangjam)- who can play in a lot of different positions. Also, it has been interesting because whenever people have been have asking me about Ashique (Kuruniyan) being a winger, he was not born with a stamp that says ‘I’m a winger.’ You have to try and find a place for a player like Ashique to develop.”

“Of course, when you are leading you can make mistakes. You cannot demand a 22-year-old not to make mistakes. Since that match against Goa, he has not made any mistakes. So, let’s see, maybe he is the man playing in place of Nishu on Sunday and maybe he has learned that position and can offer something,” stated Carles Cuadrat.

About The Week Off

“Some players like Erik (Paartalu) and Suresh have been playing most of the 90 minutes and it’s been good for them. Sunil (Chhetri) was doing some finishing drills with the squad and he was scoring goals.” 

About Dimas’ Influence Despite His Age 

“It’s about reading the game, not about the physical characteristics. It’s about understanding what’s happening and he made a great save against Goa in the final (last year) and also in the last game. So, it’s about the intelligence on the pitch because he’s making that save and almost scoring another goal. It’s something that comes with maturity. It’s about reading what can happen at that moment,” concluded Carles Cuadrat.

Dimas Delgado

About How The New Signings Have Settled In 

“All of them came with a lot of good positives, they came to try to hold and do their best since their first day. During the games as well, they can add a lot of things to the team. I think they are doing really well, all three are helping a lot and that’s what the team needs,” stated Dimas Delgado.

About Defending Against ATK

“We know that they are one of the more powerful teams in attack because they have two strikers that are very talented and can do some good work. We have been working for the last two weeks on this and understand that we have to sacrifice a little in attack,” said Dimas Delgado.

Team News

The Blues don’t have too many injury concerns going into this fixture, as Augusto remains the only confirmed miss. Although Nishu Kumar is suspended following the red card he picked up in the first-leg, the fact that Chhetri is fit and ready to go will come as a boost.

Interestingly, Kuruniyan may step in to replace Kumar in the full-back position. The only other doubt comes in the form of Albert Serran, who will be fighting to make it back in time.

Head-To-Head

The two clubs will be clashing in the Indian Super League for the eighth time and as of now, the reigning champions hold a slender advantage. Despite this, ATK will take confidence from the fact that the Blues didn’t beat them in either of the clashes during the group stage of the competition.

Predicted Lineup

Gurpreet; Khabra, Bheke, Juanan, Ashique; Dimas, Suresh, Paartalu; Chhetri, Brown, Udanta.

Broadcast

This game will be telecast live on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2 HD. It is also available to stream on Hotstar and Jio TV on other digital platforms.