Talking Point: Can Odisha FC negate set-piece specialists Bengaluru FC?

Following their defeat to Kerala Blasters FC, former champions Bengaluru FC have now lost five of their last six matches and the Blues will look to arrest this slump when they take on Odisha FC in Match 70 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Fatorda Stadium on Sunday. Odisha, meanwhile, are at the bottom of the table and will be desperate to provide some joy to their fans with an outright result. With both teams seeking a turnaround in fortunes, here, ahead of the encounter, we look at a few talking points that could prove decisive.

Bengaluru’s set-piece prowess a big threat

Although Bengaluru have failed to register a win in their last six matches, they will take confidence from the fact that all three goals that they have scored during this period have come from set-pieces. In total, they have scored seven goals from set-pieces and this will be key against Odisha FC. Stuart Baxter’s side, meanwhile, have conceded nine goals from set pieces which is the most for any team this season. They have also given away five penalties and the Blues will definitely look to take advantage of any set-pieces that might come their way.

Odisha FC’s form has been woeful

Conceding yet another goal in the first half against Hyderabad FC has highlighted one of the biggest problems for Odisha. The side have registered just one victory this season and with three losses in three matches against the Blues, the odds are firmly stacked against the Bhubaneswar-based club. However, they have shown their abilities in earning an important draw against in-form Hyderabad FC and in a win over Kerala Blasters FC a few matches before that. Playing against a team that has seen a string of losses of late, bottom-dwelling Odisha FC will sure feel a little better about their chances.

Return of Xisco Hernandez will boost Bengaluru’s confidence

Bengaluru have found goals hard to come by in the last two seasons and that could largely be attributed to the departure of Spanish midfielder Xisco Hernandez and Venezuelan forward Miku. Xisco has six goals and seven assists in 33 appearances in the Hero ISL and last turned out for Odisha FC in Hero ISL 2019-20. He played for the Blues in Hero ISL 2018-19, scoring once and assisting five goals in their run to the trophy. Xisco’s return is likely to help improve the Blues’ performance in the final third of the pitch and the absence of Dimas Delgado might not be felt after all.

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