Pune look to make statement of intent as they host league leaders Bengaluru FC
Written by: Pradyumna Tembhekar
The Stallions take on the Blues in a battle of the two in form teams of the league.
FC Pune City are playing in the same way as Premier League outfit Chelsea this season, not in the tactical aspect but as a team overall. They had a poor game and a rocky start to their season, but they have bounced back in the very next game itself, beating their opponents comprehensively in an unpredictable fashion, just in the same way the defending champions of England.
The 2-3 loss to Delhi Dynamos in their very first match courtesy in part to the destabilizing effect of the freak injury to Jewel Raja was a wake-up call for many players and the coach. However, it seemed FC Pune City are back to their unpredictable style of gameplay even with a revitalised squad. But, their next game against ATK saw an incredible display of football which put all their critics' opinions to bed.
ISL Recap - FC Pune City vs Mumbai City FC
That was followed by an incredible comeback against their "noisy Maharashtrian neighbours" Mumbai City FC. A loss to Chennaiyin FC raised doubts and concerns again, but a fine display at Jamshedpur has helped them regain the momentum for the Stallions again.
The home team look really strong on paper and are getting the desired results. They are not grinding scrappy 1-0 wins nor are they playing boring football, but consistency in the team's performance as a whole and keeping clean sheets are the issues that Ranko Popovic might need to address, for goal difference can prove to be a crucial factor in top four qualifications come to the business end of the league.
Bengaluru FC have had a good run in the ISL and the newcomers sit on the top of the table due to comprehensive wins against Delhi and Mumbai at the Kanteerava Stadium. The Sunil Chhetri led side faced a setback when Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was sent off due to a tussle with Manuel Lanzarote when the Blues lost 4-3 to the Gaurs in a fascinating encounter. The team looks balanced and Albert Roca men have started the season the front foot.
For Pune, Fanai is out due to suspension. The defender was sent off against Jamshedpur after receiving two yellow cards in the last game. Jewel Raja remains out, with Kamaljit Singh and Rohit Kumar expected to start from the bench after their steady recovery from illness. Winger Kean Lewis is inching closer to his first ISL start for the home side.
There has been a lot of shuffling in the goalkeeping department of Bengaluru of late. Star shot-stopper Sandhu will serve the second match of his two-game ban and substitute goalkeeper Abhra Mondal continues to be out due to a hamstring injury. So, Mawia Ralte is expected to continue guarding the goal.
This is going to be their first head-to-head fixture in the Hero ISL.
Man to Watch
Gurtej Singh - FC Pune City: The South American trio is expected to dominate in the Bengaluru FC box but the dark horse is the man to watch out for. He silently does his work of keeping strikers at bay and nullifying all the opportunities created by midfielders.
The interceptions and man-marking done by him has been excellent so far. He has kept the likes of Balwant Singh, Thiago Santos and Everton Santos quiet in the derby, he kept Jeje at bay at home. Watch out for this dark-horse against Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Miku.
Lalthuammawia Ralte - Bengaluru FC: Bengaluru FC's reserve shot stopper will be the man to watch out for. With an opportunity arising in a unconventional manner, he will have a really tough job of preventing the likes of Emiliano Alfaro, Marcelinho and Diego Carlos from scoring. But, the youngster impressed in the win against NorthEast United last time out and will be looking to build on that performance.
Miku has averaged a goal per game so far this season
Did You Know?
- FC Pune City have kept only one clean sheet till now, that came in their last game against Jamshedpur FC.
- Jonatan Lucca has the least amount of starts in a single season as a Pune player (1).
- The home side has the best shots attempted to goals scored ratio in this season so far.
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 Dec 13, 2017 06:40 PM IST