Talking Points: Bengaluru FC tread a different path under Carles Cuadrat
Written by: Punit Tripathi
The Blues showed a very different gameplay than they did in the last season.
After an indifferent pre-season under new manager Carles Cuadrat, Bengaluru FC returned to competitive football after the off-season. With a few arrivals and departures, the Blues are still adjusting to new ways and grew in confidence as the game against Altyn Asyr wore on. The Indian club lost 2-3 at the Sree Kanteerava on Wednesday evening, and will travel to Turkmenistan next week for the return leg.
Cuadrat, a long-time understudy of former manager Albert Roca, is willing to write his own footballing style at the club and looks set to make a statement. Winger Boithang Haokip looks set to benefit from the incoming manager’s new system.
Watch: Bengaluru FC 2-3 Altyn Asyr highlights
Here, we take a look at the five talking points for Bengaluru from the first leg of the AFC Cup Interzonal semi-final.
Bengaluru, after long, have shifted from the 4-3-3 and 3-4-3 systems
For the first time in over two years, Bengaluru FC played the 4-2-3-1 system. The side looked to have more fluidity in the opposition half, clearly helped by the formation and the numbers pushed ahead by the same. Cuadrat, in this system, will get the best out of players at his disposal.
Harmanjot Singh Khabra has played at right-back ever since he arrived at the Kanteerava, but don’t be amazed if he takes the role of a defensive midfielder in the near future. With Rino Anto and Rahul Bheke both natural right-backs, Bengaluru FC would look to buy a centre-back to pair with Juanan in key games. The side also lacks another out-and-out striker, someone who can share the workload with Miku.
Erik Paartalu looked comfortable in the holding duo role with Xisco, having performed that role for years at Melbourne City FC. Paartalu regularly found Udanta Singh on the right wing with long balls, something that wasn’t too regular until last season as the big man had to play deeper, sometimes even as a centre-back.
Udanta Singh had a good and a bad game
Udanta Singh also had a different day in the office on Wednesday night
Talented winger Udanta Singh had a game he would be disappointed with, as well as happy for most parts. Singh controlled the ball well, received them with consummate ease, and beat the opposition left-back with disdain, but failed when it came to crossing it right. His right foot is synonymous with good crosses on the six-yard line, but it just didn’t come.
When he cut back and tried with his left, it was the same story. He got better in the second period, but his best is yet to come this season. The Paartalu-Udanta combo is set to be a threat, but ISL sides need to be aware of that.
Bengaluru will take time to forget ‘defend first’
Under Albert Roca, the club played a defence-first style, with three at the back on a lot of occasions. That philosophy looks to be changing under his successor, who’s trying to play four at the back, with two holding midfielders and four attackers. The attacking third, under Roca, was usually three.
In this formation, one of the two holding midfielders is also expected to do a lot of transitional and spreading work, making him an integral part of the attack system. Thus, the club will take a little time to shed its defence first mechanism and will need to press the attack button from the word go. This looked like the reason why Bengaluru were slow off the blocks, and conceded thrice in the first period.
Sunil Chhetri had a game not to his standards
Whenever a team walks out for key games, it looks up to its captain. And Sunil Chhetri is a talismanic captain, no doubt. The No. 11, though, did not have a game at par with his excellence. Xisco found Chhetri with a deft lob in the first half but the forward took a touch too many and conceded possession.
Sunil Chhetri failed to provide his side with a winner against Altyn Asyr
The man did come up with an excellent header that rattled the bar in the first goal for Bengaluru, but was subdued mostly as he was marked by multiple players and wasn’t given forward space. Asyr players, though, didn’t mind giving him horizontal space. Chhetri, at times, did link up well with Xisco and the partnership with the new Spanish recruit already looks blooming for the Blues.
If there was ever a game of distinct halves, this was it
Bengaluru FC conceded thrice in the first half, and looked absent defensively. Attacking wise, nothing seemed to be going their way as well, as the club kept failing to link-up in the final third. Asyr played with authority and drive, and looked like a side that could beat Bengaluru with a big margin.
As the second-half whistle blew, the players suddenly changed the whole roadmap. They started to attack more. Bengaluru FC full-backs played most of the second half in the opposition half, and that shows the kind of domination the side had in the latter half. The side came up with two goals in the half, and came close on three other occasions as well. The message from coach Cuadrat certainly helped the side and a lot of players felt more comfortable on the pitch all of a sudden.
This side, thus, looks comfortable in taking the game to the opposition and will make life difficult for ISL sides. The second leg, though, is a tough ask in Turkmenistan and they need to win the bigger battles first to ensure they have the confidence to override the smaller ones.
Published: Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:59 PM IST