Both teams are in the midst of a winless streak and desperately need a positive result.
Bengaluru FC were in the news last week, as the Southerners chose to part ways with their title-winning coach Carles Cuadrat after the team had sunk to three consecutive losses in the league. The Spaniard, a much-loved figure at the club since his days as an assistant to Albert Roca, oversaw a period where the team did not look convincing as a unit. Interim head coach Naushad Moosa rung in some changes for the game against East Bengal, which saw a largely positive Bengaluru side lose 1-0 to Robbie Fowler’s team.
They now head into a must-win clash against NorthEast United, who are in a bad run of form themselves, having picked up just one point from their last four games. Gerard Nus’ side set the pace in the early stages of the season and were looking to stay in the playoff places till their bad run of form in December. The team would look to take advantage of Bengaluru’s own struggles and leapfrog into fifth spot.
NorthEast United would need a win to bring their quest to make the playoffs back to life. The team need to channelize their early season form and take the attack to a Bengaluru team that is currently transitioning between coaches. A win would lift them above their opponents and give them good momentum for the second half of the campaign.
There were plenty of positives for Naushad Moosa in his first game in-charge of Bengaluru FC. Parag Shrivas and Ajith Kumar gave a good account of themselves against East Bengal and the team looked a determined unit, as they try to bounce back from a rare run of bad form. Moosa stated in his post-match briefing against East Bengal that there are 30 points to play for and that the team can make the playoffs comfortably. If that goal is to be realized, then they would need to start with a win against the Highlanders, who have struggled to put a run of form since the end of November.
Gerard Nus would look to ring in the changes after his side conceded two late goals against Hyderabad FC. This could be the case keeping in mind Bengaluru’s usually strong second-half performances in the last few games. Dylan Fox could be drafted back into the lineup to offer some defensive solidity against a potent Bengaluru FC attack, at least on paper.
Moosa had indicated that he would look to play more of the youngsters in the games ahead. He was true to his word as Parag and Ajith got their starts against East Bengal and gave a good account of themselves. Harmanjot Khabra is available after sitting out the last game with a suspension. The Blues are desperately in need of freshness to turn their season around. Udanta Singh was restored to the lineup previously and looks set to continue alongside Cleiton Silva and Sunil Chhetri.
The Blues would look to their superior head-to-head record against NorthEast United to build confidence ahead of this match. They have won five and drawn three of the nine meetings between these two teams.
NorthEast United FC: Subhashish (GK); Mehta, Lambot, Fox, Gurjinder; Fanai, Camara, Gallego, Rochharzela; Suhair, Machado.
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet (GK); Khabra, Juanan, Pratik, Ajith; Paartalu, Dimas, Suresh; Cleiton Chhetri, Udanta.
Man To Watch
Federico Gallego (NorthEast United)
The 30-year old Uruguayan was an all-action presence in the loss against Hyderabad. A key player in linking the two ends of the pitch, he would be Gerard Nus’ lynchpin in attempting to cause problems for an unsure Bengaluru lineup, that has not kept a clean sheet in their last seven games.
Udanta Singh (Bengaluru FC)
The man nicknamed “Flash” has a point to prove after becoming a non-starter in the final few games of Carles Cuadrat’s reign. The winger was restored to the lineup against East Bengal and brought a directness to the Blues’ play. Moosa would need some of his pace and ability to take on the full-backs of the opposition, as he looks to end Bengaluru’s wretched run of form.
Did You Know?
- Bengaluru FC have now conceded in their last seven ISL games; their longest streak.
- Bengaluru FC have also lost four consecutive games this season, which is yet another longest streak.
- Both sides combined have picked up a solitary point in their last 4 games played.
The live telecast of the match between NorthEast United FC and Bengaluru FC will be available on Star Sports 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 2 SD & HD (English), Star Sports Hindi 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 3 and several other regional languages. Live streaming of the match will be available on Hotstar and Jio TV.