The Blues ran out winners by a 4-2 margin in the reverse fixture.

Chennaiyin FC will eye a top-of-the-table berth but will have their task cut out against a spirited Bengaluru FC in the 2021-22 Indian Super League at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Wednesday.

Chennaiyin are fourth on the points table with 18 in their bag from 12 games. A win on Republic Day would see them leapfrog Jamshedpur FC, Kerala Blasters FC and Hyderabad FC to the top of the tree, but for that Bozidar Bandovic’s wards will have to topple Bengaluru FC who defied off-field odds to come away with a fiesty draw in their last game.

The Stakes

Bengaluru FC

The Blues hadn’t trained for a week or so in the buildup to the encounter against FC Goa but a Sunil Chhetri goal — that made him the joint top-scorer in ISL history — ensured they come out with a point after Goa had taken the lead.

Bengaluru are eighth in the table and a victory would mean they go within touching distance of the top-four teams. Head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli would be a happy man after Chhetri ended his goal drought. The legendary Indian captain was dropped to the bench after his indifferent start to the season but came back with the bang in the last game.

Pezzaiuoli though would be concerned with the team’s list of injury concerns. “We have a few problems in terms of personnel. Ashique (Kuruniyan) had an injury after a sprint, Cleiton (Silva) is a question mark, and we are not sure if (Yrondu) Musavu-King can play again this season because we have to assess his injury,” the Blues’ boss said on the eve of the game.

Chennaiyin FC

For Chennaiyin, Vladimir Koman’s return from injury was crowned with a goal in the last game and the Hungarian midfielder is now their leading scorer this campaign with three goals. Bandovic would also like to work on his team’s incisiveness in the final third.

However, Bandovic revealed that talented winger Lallianzuala Chhangte may not be a part of his side. “I’m not playing Chhangte for tactical reasons. The player’s contract is coming to an end and it’s up to the player to make a decision,” Bandovic said.

The last time the two southern rivals met in the derby, Bengaluru ran out 4-2 winners in a high-scoring tie.

Team News

Bengaluru FC

Cleiton Silva is a doubt for tomorrow’s game because of a hit on the knee. Ashique Kuruniyan had an injury after a sprint. Yrondu Musavu-King and Leon Augustine also continue to be out. While Leon has had a fever of late, King most likely will be out for the season with head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli assessing a 90% chance of the same.

Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin FC will be looking to continue their upward surge in the league. A win will take the Marina Machans to the top of the table. Therefore, the stakes are high and the margin for error very low.

Chennaiyin FC though became the latest team afflicted by COVID-19 as Vishal Kaith is reported to have tested positive for the virus. The team has been in isolation since their previous game on the 22nd. Therefore, they haven’t been able to train in the lead-up to this game. There are no injury or suspension concerns though for Bandovic to contend with.

Head-to-Head

Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC have faced each other 10 times in Indian Super League history. The Blues currently lead the head-to-head records with five wins, while Chennaiyin FC have won on three occasions. The Marina Machans are, however, winless against their southern rivals since the 2019-20 season. Bengaluru FC have won three, while two games have ended in draws in that period. Marco Pezzaiuoli’s side also won the reverse fixture by a 4-2 margin.

Probable Lineups

Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet (GK), Roshan, Pratik, Wungngayam Muirang, Parag Shrivas, Suresh, Bruno, Danish, Udanta, Sunil, Ibara.

Chennaiyin FC: Debjit (GK), Ninthoi, Sajid Dhot, Damjanovic, Narayan, Jerry, Ariel, Thapa, Koman, Rahim, Valskis.

Did You Know?

  • With 12 goals in 12 games Chennaiyin FC rank last in the standings for goals per game.
  • Chennaiyin FC are winless in their last six meets with Bengaluru FC.
  • With five assists, Bengaluru FC’s Naorem Roshan Singh ranks joint second/cumulative fourth for assists in the league.
  • Bengaluru FC are recipients of the highest number of yellow cards this season (30).

Telecast

Bengaluru’s match against Chennaiyin FC will be played at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on January 26 (Wednesday). The game will be telecast live on the Star Sports Network. The match will also be live streamed on the Disney+Hotstar platform and the JioTV app.

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