The reverse fixture between the two teams ended in a goalless draw. . .
As the I-League resumes after the international break, the clash of the titans between two of I-league giants will make things more interesting. Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan, a team which is being touted as one of the title contenders in the same bracket with league leaders Aizawl FC, is set to boost their title chances against defending champions Bengaluru FC at their home turf on Saturday.
Mohun Bagan players, who had a successful outing amidst their respective National sides, is expected to step their performances up a notch pursuing the league title. The Mariners are currently in the third place in the league standings with 23 points collected in 12 games, following Aizawl FC at the top and arch-rivals East Bengal in the second place.
However, with some injuries amongst their ranks, it is yet to be seen how the Kolkata giants’ head coach, Sanjoy Sen deploys his side against the Bengaluru Blues.
The defending champions, who were having a below par season under the newly appointed coach Albert Roca, had a decent international time as well and is expected to provide a tough fight to Mohun Bagan on Saturday in Kolkata. The Blues started the season brightly but slipped up from the top of the table after successive draws and defeats at the midway before the international fixtures and currently lie in the fifth position with 18 points collected from 13 games, closely followed by Goan outfit Churchill Brothers.
As the league is coming to an end, the Bengaluru Giants will aim towards adding some points and probably finish in the fourth position of the league with hopes of a better next season.
Mohun Bagan will miss iconic midfielder Pronay Halder against the defending champions to injury as well as their first choice goalkeeper Debjit Majumder which might be a problem for coach Sanjoy Sen against his Spanish counterpart on Saturday. However, the Bagan side is absent of any serious injuries amongst their midst which will surely boost their morale against the Blues in their forthcoming league fixture.
Bengaluru FC is without any injuries against Mohun Bagan which comes as welcome news for coach Albert Roca after a devastating first half of the season.
Head to Head
The two teams have faced each other nine times till date, out of which Mohun Bagan has won three matches compared to Bengaluru’s two games. The remaining four games were drawn between these two teams.
Sanjoy Sen-Mohun Bagan: “I have not decided on that. He will in the 18-man squad,” Sen said. It is one of the crucial matches for us. Bengaluru FC are one of the strongest sides in the league. It’s a tough match for us,” the former United SC coach added.
Albert Roca-Bengaluru FC: “It’s goING be difficult tomorrow. They have to get three points and want to finish top. We are expecting a difficult game but we are current champions. We will try to do our best for our supporters and for the team. We have a lot of respect for Mohun Bagan and their history. But we have to be competitive. We will do our best,” Roca told reporters on the eve of the tie.
Roca added that Bagan have a slight upper hand as they had just three players returning from national duty while Bengaluru have seven. The Spaniard also hinted at their AFC Cup tie against Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation which is of more importance to them. It is a little advantage to them. In four days we have an important game in Maldives. We will have to manage the situation and play with a team tomorrow that can win.”
Man to watch
Anas Edathodika-Mohun Bagan: The 30-year-old defender has emerged as one of the most reliable defensive figures in the country since the beginning of the season. Edathodika, a centre back in Mohun Bagan’s defensive line, is expected to cause trouble to Bengaluru’s attacks and restrict their chances of scoring goals. The Kerala-born defender, who offers not only defensive abilities in the back four but is also able to go on forward runs sometimes and reinforce the defensive midfielder further up in the pitch. Edathodika brings a mixed flair of experience with leadership in the Mohun Bagan dressing room and is quick to react to opposition counter attacks, which will help him to keep the Bengaluru forwards at bay on Saturday.
Sunil Chhetri-Bengaluru FC: Bengaluru FC’s iconic captain, who scored the winning goal for India against Myanmar a few days ago, will be a threat to reckon with for the Kolkata giants on Saturday. Chhetri, who is currently enjoying a purple patch in his career, is expected to spearhead the Bengaluru attack against Mohun Bagan. With his pinpoint passing, sudden bursts of pace and movement on the pitch, Chhetri holds an ample amount of chance to score the winning goal against the Mariners.
Mohun Bagan (4-4-2): Shilton, Kotal, Ferreira, Anas, Bose, Katsumi, Souvik, Prabir, Norde, Duffy, Balwant.
Bengaluru FC (4-3-3): Amrinder, Jhingan, Johnson, Juanan, Nishu, Watson, Rodrigues, Lyngdoh, Udanta, Lalhlimpuia, Chhetri.
The match will be televised live on Ten 2 on Saturday from 7 pm. You can also read the live commentary of the game on www.khelnow.com.