The coach called for the team to correct the smaller details to improve as a team.

Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli took a confident tone during his interaction with the media ahead of his side’s game against Hyderabad FC on Wednesday night.

The 2018-19 champions have had a mixed start to the campaign. They find themselves in eighth place, with the same number of points as their opponents on Wednesday. But, the Blues have played an extra game.

Despite their topsy-turvy start, the German coach backed his players to improve. He provided updates on the squad and his ideals around their gameplay ahead of a tough fixture against the Nizams.

Injury updates & absences

Bengaluru FC’s mixed start could also be attributed to their frequent injury problems. The 2018-19 champions have had a hard time with injuries to key players at key junctures of the season.

When asked for any injury scares and updates, Marco Pezzaiuoli replied, “Prince Ibara is undergoing a test right now, but don’t know 100%. We have a training session again tomorrow morning, so we will see how his adductor is reacting and then see if he can be in the squad or not. The same goes for Udanta (Singh), (Iman) Basafa and (Yrondu Musavu) King.”

“We play every three days, I don’t think this happens anywhere else in world football and also to have high quality with fewer injuries is difficult. We are in India and we need to adapt, but this type is not good for football,” added the German.

Pezzaiuoli also mentioned that defender Sarthak Golui has left the Bengaluru FC bubble due to a personal emergency. He updated, “He has left the team bubble to attend to a family emergency. Living in a bubble makes things tough when you want to help your family. He had left the bubble earlier and now has had to leave again. But, we understand completely. Some things will always be more important than football in life and our thoughts are with him in this difficult time.”

Thoughts on season so far

Marco Pezzaiuoli aims to bring the classic German imprint of high-pressing attacking football to Bengaluru FC. Therefore, the onus is on the Blues to dominate the ball. The team have done that so far, averaging 61.5% possession across their first four games. But, their shooting accuracy has let them down, despite their quality in attack.

As a result, the Blues, as mentioned before, stand in eighth place with four points from their first four games. But, they could make it into the top four with a win against Hyderabad FC.

Pezzaiuoli took a motivational tone to address Sunil Chhetri and Co’s start to the season. He replied, “I don’t think it has been a bad start, but we can make some things better. If you see our games, we are playing better and better. In this league, you win a few games, you are at the top of the table. We missed some of our chances and that’s why we are not top of the table.

“If you watch the game between Mumbai and ATK, the referee’s decision influences the game and similarly our penalties have influenced our games. We invest a lot and those moments can win us games,” the German added.

Tactical improvements

Marco Pezzaiuoli also stated his satisfaction with his side’s tactical approach to each game. He specifically called out their approach in their previous game against Mumbai City. Despite the defeat, Pezziaouli praised his players for carrying his ideas through to the pitch.

“I think the game against Mumbai was the best one we played so far. We played the game in the style we want. We pressed very high and we got the ball back very fast. The counter-pressing was also very good. After going down 2-1, Mumbai got more space, but I hope we go with the same intensity and try to get the ball as early as possible,” the German coach reflected.

Pezzaiuoli further added, “What I’m not really happy about is the defending from set-pieces. I think we could have avoided the penalty, the second goal was a free-kick that should have been defended.”

The Hyderabad challenge

The Blues face a tough test against the Nizams. Both teams are locked on four points and have a chance to temporarily usurp the other to the playoffs spots. Hence, the game on Wednesday night carries extra importance to both teams. It adds further spice to what promises to be an exciting contest.

When asked of his adversaries on Wednesday, Marco replied, “I think it will be a difficult game. They have some good youngsters who played in the U-23 team and some experienced players, especially foreigners. They are good in transition and set-pieces too. I think they are a good team, I think one of the better teams in the League. We want to start the way we did against Mumbai and make the game difficult for Hyderabad.

“I agree, we can defend better, but when you see all the games, you’ll see the opponent has few chances against us. What we need to do now is work hard for a clean-sheet and that’s our aim against Hyderabad,” Pezziaouli opined possibly hinting at a defensive approach.

The game also would feature a battle within the war. Defender Juanan who spent five successful years with Bengaluru FC will turn the opponent on the night when he laces up for Hyderabad FC.

Marco Pezzaiuoli spoke in glowing terms of the veteran Spaniard, saying, “Juanan knows how we play. He is a great player in our history and worked with me until March, so he knows how we want to play. We know his strengths, but we also know his weaknesses. He knows us too, but we need to show that we have enough quality to beat them.”

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