Talking Point: Will Bengaluru’s defence have its way or Goa’s attack?
FC Goa will begin life under head coach Juan Ferrando when they take on Bengaluru FC in both teams’ first match of the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) campaign. The Gaurs were the most threatening team in attack last season and scored more goals than any other side in the league, while the Blues struggled up front. However, their defence was the best. Hero ISL 2020-21 promises to be different for both teams with them making plenty of changes to their squads and here we analyse some of the talking points ahead of Sunday’s clash at the Fatorda Stadium.
Will Brandon Fernandes continue to flourish for FC Goa?
Brandon Fernandes was one of the Gaurs’ most creative players last season and he will have the burden of creating openings for his teammates. Only Rafael Crivellaro  and Hugo Boumous  created more chances than Brandon  last season. His seven assists were the highest by an Indian player and his delivery during set-pieces is always a threat to opposition defences with five of those seven assists coming from dead-ball situations. With plenty of new players now a part of Goa, it remains to be seen if Brandon can continue being the side’s playmaker -- a role the Gaurs need him to excel in if they are to enjoy a good season.
Bengaluru’s defence will be difficult to breach, but attack must do better
It’s no surprise that Goa have beaten Bengaluru just once in their seven meetings when you realise that they are the best-drilled unit from a defensive point of view. They conceded just 16 goals over the course of last season and kept 11 clean sheets – a record for most clean sheets in a Hero ISL season. The presence of two-time Hero ISL Golden Glove winner Gurpreet Singh Sandhu undoubtedly helps but a lack of cutting edge in attack must be addressed without delay.
They only scored 24 goals over the entirety of Hero ISL 2019-20 and must improve in that department in the upcoming campaign. Their goal conversion rate of 9.54 – the third worst by a team last season – tells its own story. Their over-reliance on Sunil Chhetri, who bagged nine goals last campaign, needs to go, and the likes of Kristian Opseth and Deshorn Brown will have to ensure that happens.
Can Igor Angulo fill Ferran Corominas’ shoes?
FC Goa’s Igor Angulo will be leading their frontline this season and the Spaniard finds himself in the unenviable position of having to replace Hero ISL’s all-time leading goal-scorer Corominas, who scored 48 times for Goa in the league. However, Angulo comes with a reputation of knowing his way to goal. He spent the last four seasons in Poland with Gornik Zabrze and was the Golden Boot winner in the 2018-19 campaign with 24 goals. Among the top two goal-scorers in the Polish Ekstraklasa in the past three seasons, Angulo will be a key player for the Gaurs and has shown what he’s capable of in the pre-season friendlies where he has netted twice.