Bengaluru FC are nine matches unbeaten, while Hyderabad FC suffered a loss in their previous encounter.

Marco Pezzaiuoli and Manolo Marquez have been two of the finest coaches in this edition of the Indian Super League. On one hand, Hyderabad FC have earned themselves the top spot under Marquez’s tutelage. On the other hand, Bengaluru FC have made a brilliant comeback this season.

Bengaluru FC are currently third-placed in the table. A win for them in this match, one with a difference of three goals will take them to second in the table. They’ll be sharing the same points with their opponents Hyderabad FC but goal difference will play a role in keeping the Nizmas above the Blues.

Meanwhile, Hyderabad FC have been scintillating throughout their campaign. They have built their squad in the past seasons and the results are delivered right on the plate. Manolo Marquez will be hopeful of securing all three points. Their previous encounter wasn’t a soothing one, as it resulted in a 1-2 loss against ATK Mohun Bagan. But regarding their encounter against Bengaluru FC, it can be said that the Nizams will be aiming another three points, like what they did when these sides met in the reverse fixture.

Here’s what the coaches, Marco Pezzaiuoli and Manolo Marquez had to say in the pre-match press conferences.

Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli

Thoughts on fixture

Marco Pezzaiuoli: First of all, we look at ourselves every time. We are nine games unbeaten and we’ve had good games. We didn’t lose the last few games and after the quarantine situation, we’re in a better condition now. After our three games in seven days, we got seven points which gave us a lot of confidence. So, we’re on the right track. We’re playing against a strong team, to whom we lost our first game and didn’t play well in the first half, especially. They’re doing well and they have the top scorer in their squad with (Bartholomew Ogbeche).

But they also lost their last game, which is important to know because it helps us spot some weaknesses. This means that our thinking is not to give the opponent a lot of chances. We need to avoid that, as it’s very important. They have a very good offence, which means our defence from their offensive part needs to start very well. We need to be very compact. They are a very good team in transition, fast players in the offensive areas and Ogbeche is the man in the box.

We need to play our game, just like our last game against Hyderabad, where we dominated the second half. We’ll have to make sure we make the chances count. We’re doing good and that’s why we need to focus on ourselves.

Special plans for Bartholomew Ogbeche?

Marco Pezzaiuoli: We try to close our players down and in the box, we try to be very sharp. But, not only one player, like Ogbeche, but there are other players who can also score goals. That’s why we need to be tight on the man with possession. It’s not a one-man job, it’s the job of the team as a unit. I think offensively, we need to give them trouble because when they start to play (good) football, they’re really good. Especially on the wings – right and left with their right and left full-backs, they’re very offensive as well. So, we need to be very compact on the side, try to win the ball and give them pressure on the other parts.

Importance of game

Marco Pezzaiuoli: I think every game is important, from day one in the league. We don’t change rituals in the daily programme or tactic-wise or in the preparation. This is an important game, just like every other game. We want to be close to the top four and we have the possibility to get three points this game. That’s important for us. That’s why we are focusing on this and not being the champions or place No. 4. We are focusing on Hyderabad because we and they have the possibility of getting three points. But, we really need to invest a lot against them because they are a very good team.

Hyderabad FC coach Manolo Marquez

What went wrong against ATK Mohun Bagan?

Manolo Marquez: We didn’t play in the first half (against ATK Mohun Bagan), I was very angry because we lost easy balls, even without pressure. We passed the ball to the opponents close to our box, and the team started to play after conceding the second goal. It’s true that we started well in the second half with a very clear chance from Rohit Danu that touched the crossbar, but after (conceding) two goals, I think that we played very, very well.

During that 20-25 minutes, we had a lot of clear chances, four-five, very clear chances, but in the last five minutes, plus injury time, we were nervous. We did not attack well at the last moment and they had very clear chances to finish the game.

Was the defeat a setback in your quest to win the league?

Manolo Marquez: It’s the first game that we lost in the second leg. In football, it is impossible to win every game in a regular season. Sometimes you play good games, sometimes you play bad. Sometimes you play well and don’t win. Sometimes you play badly and win games. I think the other day, we didn’t play a good game in general, except for a phase in the second half.

And we lost against a very strong side. Now, we have to be focused on Bengaluru because there are still five games to play and the fight for the top four and the championship is still open for a lot of teams.

Bengaluru FC are unbeaten in their last nine matches. What is your assessment of the team?

Manolo Marquez: It is again the same thing. We cannot think about how many points we need. We have to play against a Bengaluru FC and see what happens. If we win, we will see things in a different way.

And if we lose, we have to continue because till the last round, nothing will be decided. I think that we have to fight and we have to be focused in every game because all of them are very difficult. But for the other teams, it’s exactly the same.

Thoughts and expectations from the match?

Manolo Marquez: I think that will be a difficult game for us, but it will be a difficult game for them too. Another thing that I want to say is that I am happy for Marco (Pezzaiuoli), for the coach, because as a coach, sometimes you receive a lot of criticism. And, now I want to look where are these people who criticised him? It was very easy to criticise when things are bad, and now they are silent.

I think Bengaluru, they have good players. They have a clear style that they play, they are very strong in some aspects and they have very good players in all the lines. And I think that will be very difficult for us. But I think that if we are in our best performance, it will be a very difficult one for them too.

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