Two former Barcelona coaches face off as high-flying Bengaluru visit fiery young guns FC Goa
Written by: Ravish R Narvekar
Regional pride is at stake in the first ever meeting of these two teams which pits west against the south.
FC Goa will be looking to bounce back after going down to Mumbai City FC in the last match, when they host Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) match at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda on Thursday.
After two back-to-back away matches, the Gaurs will play their first home match and it will be important for the host to start their home campaign with a win. Goa started well in their opening match with a 2-3 win over Chennaiyin FC but could not continue their form in the next match as they went down 2-1 to Mumbai. The Guars currently stand fourth with three points from two matches and are definitely in need of at least a point from this difficult fixture.
On the other hand, the South Indian team have comfortably won their first two matches against Mumbai and Delhi Dynamos and sit at the top of the table with six points. Though, the hosts have suffered a defeat in the last match, expecting all three points from this fixture could be difficult for the Steelmen as Goa’s attacking lineup has the calibre to surprise any opponents. However, manager Albert Roca will surely be looking for a win before flying to NorthEast United for the next away match.
Lobera was handling the junior team at Spanish giants FC Barcelona at the same time that Roca was part of the senior squad's backroom staff. So, this is also an intriguing battle between two former Blaugrana coaches.
After some sloppy guarding of the post in the last two matches from Laxmikant Kattimani, Goa’s head coach Sergio Lobera could think of a change between the sticks, while Adrian Colunga and Bruno Pinheiro will likely miss the game due to injuries.
For Bengaluru, Nishu Kumar might get the left-back slot instead of Rahul Bheke in Roca’s starting XI. There is also a chance that the Spaniard might think of rotating the squad and bringing in either Antonio Dovale or Braulio Nobrega, considering there are two more away matches coming up. Elsewhere, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Collin Abranches, Joyner Lourenco and Dimas Delgado will continue to miss the match due to injuries.
The clash will be the first meeting between the two teams.
Man to Watch
Manuel Lanzarote–FC Goa: The former RCD Espanyol player is playing an important role in Goa’s midfield, linking seamlessly with the forwards. The 33-year-old midfielder has already scored in the opening match for the Guars and also played an influential role against the Islanders in the last match. With his ability to easily overlap defenders with creative footwork the attacking midfielder will be the man to stop for the Steelmen.
Edu Garcia-Bengaluru FC: Garcia has been the most prominent player for the Steelmen in the last two matches with a goal and an assist each to his name, while he has five shots on target, the highest in the ISL so far. The Spaniard is very good with his first touch and with his ability to control the ball in the attack, the midfielder will be the real threat for the Goans' last line.
Watch: FC Goa manager Sergio Lobera opens up exclusively to Khel Now
Did You Know?
- Goa has never won their first home match of the season in the ISL.
- Goa finished at the bottom of the table with just 14 points last season.
- Bangaluru have become the first former I-league team to beat an ISL team.
The match will be broadcast live on Star Sports 2 and Stars Sports 2 HD 7.45 pm onwards. It will be also available for live streaming on Hotstar and Jio TV.
Published: Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:12 PM IST