The Juggernauts begin their ISL 2021-22 campaign on November 24 (Wednesday).

Odisha FC face Bengaluru FC in their Indian Super League 2021-22 season opener at the Tilak Maidan on Wednesday. While the Juggernauts are starting their campaign, Marco Pezzaiuoli’s BFC thumped NorthEast United 4-2 in their opening clash. Both clubs have a tinge of similarity this season, in that they are both starting over after revamps in the summer.

Bengaluru FC started their season brightly and will want to extend that. Odisha FC, on the other hand, will look to begin their new era with a victory. They are winless against The Blues in the previous two seasons. Given the clash of styles and talents (both foreign and domestic), this game should be a good watch.

The Stakes

Odisha FC

In the two seasons they have been in the ISL, after being rechristened as Odisha FC from Delhi Dynamos, the club have seen the lowest of lows. They finished with the wooden spoon last season, with only two wins from the possible 20. It forced Odisha FC to re-assess their approach, leading to major changes across levels at the club. However, while they have rebooted and are starting afresh, Odisha have brought back the system that saw them dish out decent performances on the field.

Under Josep Gombau, in their first season as Odisha, they finished sixth, just four points from the final playoffs berth. Keeping that as the benchmark, Odisha FC have appointed fellow Spaniard Kiko Ramirez as their boss for this season. Four of their six foreigners are also Spanish.

Bengaluru FC

In contrast, Bengaluru FC have walked away from Spanish tacticians and have appointed former Eintracht Frankfurt technical director Marco Pezzaiuoli as their head coach for the next three seasons. The German has started well, with a commanding win on his ISL managerial debut. His BFC side also gave a good account of themselves in the AFC Cup, although they failed to advance from the group stage.

Bengaluru finished seventh last season, missing out on the playoffs for the first time in their four-year ISL history. The club looked a distant past of themselves, leading to the Blues relieving head coach Carles Cuadret and also releasing six of their seven overseas players from last season. With the start they have got, Bengaluru FC would want to carry on and not settle for anything less than the playoffs.

Team News

Pezzaiuoli confirmed at the pre-match press conference that Leon Augustine, who suffered an injury against NorthEast United, is out of this clash. Bruno Ramires also took a knock on the knee. However, he is likely to be available. Odisha FC have no injury concerns as of now.

Head-to-Head

Since being rechristened as Odisha FC in the 2019-20 season, Bengaluru FC and Odisha have faced each other on four occasions. The former have won three of those meetings, while the last encounter ended in a 1-1 draw.

Overall, Bengaluru FC played Odisha FC (erstwhile Delhi Dynamos) on eight occasions and have won five of those matches. Delhi Dynamos won two games, while one ended in a draw.

Probable Lineups

Odisha FC (4-2-3-1): Arshdeep Singh (GK); Hendry Antonay, Hector Rodas, Victor Mongil, Sahil Panwar; Vinit Rai, Thoiba Singh; Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Javi Martinez, Nandhakumar Sekar; Jonathas de Jesus.

Bengaluru FC (4-2-3-1): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Ajith Kumar, Alan Costa, Yrondu Musavu-King, Ashique Kuruniyan; Bruno Ramires, Suresh Wangjam; Udanta Singh, Jayesh Rane, Sunil Chhetri; Cleiton Silva.

Man to Watch

Jonathas de Jesus (Odisha FC)

Jonathas de Jesus
The Brazilian has scored goals in Europe’s top leagues (Courtesy: OFC Media)

A big-money signing, Jonathas de Jesus will be the player to watch out for in the Odisha FC team. The 32-year-old has scored plenty of goals in some of the world’s top leagues, which include La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A. The Brazilian was also linked with other ISL clubs, before Odisha signed him. Jonathas has scored over 100 goals in his club career and is coming on the back of a decent season for Hatta, where he scored six goals in 10 matches in the UAE Pro League.

He will lead the attack for the Juggernauts this season and will want to start off by finding the net against Bengaluru FC in his debut match.

Cleiton Silva (Bengaluru FC)

Cleiton Silva
Silva scored and assisted once each against NorthEast United (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Another Brazilian, Cleiton Silva has made a splendid start to the season, with a goal and an assist in the first game of the season. He opened the scoring in the 14th minute against NorthEast United and then assisted Jayesh Rane for the third 28 minutes later. Silva was also one of Bengaluru’s best players in an otherwise disheartening season last term, with seven goals and four assists to his name.

Did You Know?

  • Odisha FC conceded 44 goals last season, highest in the league.
  • Bengaluru FC failed to make the playoffs last season. It was the first instance in the club’s four-year ISL history that they finished below the fourth place.
  • Jonathas de Jesus is the second-highest paid player in the ISL this season.

Telecast

The game between Odisha FC and Bengaluru FC will take place at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco. The kick-off is at 7:30 pm IST. The match will be shown live on the Star Sports Network and streamed on Disney+Hotstar and Jio TV.

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