Ambitions collide as Chennaiyin, Bengaluru lock horns in Southern Derby
Chennaiyin FC play hosts to Bengaluru FC in another highly-anticipated South Indian Derby in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Sunday. The encounter is set to be a crucial one in the context of the competition, with Chennaiyin aiming to stay in the race for the top four while Bengaluru look to keep the pressure on ATK and FC Goa in their bid to claim the summit spot and consequently the AFC Champions League slot.
The Marina Machans have been in scintillating touch since the turn of the new year. They have been the most in-form team in the competition in 2020, scoring 15 goals in five matches and securing 12 points in the process. For context, the team was at a lowly eighth position at the end of 2019 with just nine points in as many matches. In contrast, they are now in touching distance of the fourth spot with 21 points from 14. Despite their surge, however, Owen Coyle's men still have a lot of work to do to reach their objective and need to win all their remaining matches to guarantee themselves a top four finish.
With an integral six-pointer against current fourth-placed side Mumbai City FC coming up soon, Chennaiyin will be eager to take all three points against regional rivals Bengaluru to give themselves the best chance possible going into the vital fixture.
Central to Chennaiyin's surge up the table in 2020, has been the offensive brilliance of their attacking quartet - Nerijus Valskis, Rafael Crivellaro, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Andre Schembri. Valskis has been the pick of the bunch and is currently second in the Golden Boot table with 12 goals. Getting his name on the scoresheet on Sunday will not only help the Lithuanian chase down, or even overtake, ATK's Roy Krishna, who currently leads the Golden Boot leaderboard with 13, but will also make him Chennaiyin's highest scorer in a single season. Stiven Mendoza currently holds the record with 13 goals in the 2015 edition. The likes of Schembri, Crivellaro and Chhangte too have been in red hot form lately and Sunday's fixture presents the mouthwatering prospect of the league's most in-form attacking line-up going up against the Bengaluru defence - who have let in the least amount of goals (9) this season so far.
Bengaluru currently sit pretty on third with 28 points from 15 matches but their away form this season hasn't particularly been great. In the seven away games they have played so far this campaign, the Blues have lost two, drawn three and won just two. They have also managed to score just five times on their travels, whilst conceding just as many.
Overall, however, Bengaluru possess the best defensive record in the league and will hope their backline is on song against a formidable Chennaiyin offensive line-up come Sunday.
In offence, the Bengaluru charge has been led by none other than Sunil Chhetri, who has already found the back of the net on 9 occasions and will look to add to his tally on Sunday. One interesting thing about the Blues offence, however, has been their over reliance on set pieces to find their goals. A whopping 12 of the 19 goals they have managed this season have come from dead ball situations, with eight of them coming from free kicks. If Chennaiyin manage to close off that avenue, the hosts will have a good chance to get one over their rivals in the crunch tie.
Currently giving chase to Goa and ATK in their bid to finish at the top of the table by the end of the league phase, the Blues, for different reasons to their Southern rivals, can't afford to drop any points and fans can expect an intriguing contest between the two on Sunday. Chennaiyin will be missing Anirudh Thapa for the tie due to a suspension, while Bengaluru will be without Harmanjot Singh Khabra owing to the same reason.
Chennaiyin FC: Vishal Kaith (GK), Laldinliana Renthlei, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Eli Sabia, Lucian Goian, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Edwin Vanspaul, Thoi Singh, Rafael Crivellaro, Andre Schembri, Nerijus Valskis
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Albert Serran, Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Nishu Kumar, Erik Paartalu, Dimas Delgado, Suresh Wangjam, Udanta Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Deshorn Brown
Did you know?
- No team has scored more goals than Chennaiyin’s tally of 15 in 2020.
- Bengaluru have lost their last two away matches in a row.
- Twelve of the 19 goals Bengaluru have scored this season have been from set pieces.
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 78: Chennaiyin FC vs Bengaluru FC
Date: February 9 (Sunday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV