Bengaluru aim to end Odisha’s winning streak
Odisha FC face off against defending champions Bengaluru FC in Match 64 of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday. Odisha will be looking to extend their winning run to five matches, which will see them leapfrog the Blues in the Hero ISL standings. Bengaluru, meanwhile, have a chance to go top with a victory on Wednesday.
After losing their last match against Mumbai City FC, Bengaluru will look to regroup in order to beat a high-flying Odisha side. The Blues won their reverse fixture against Odisha earlier in the season but will need to be wary of a reinvigorated Odisha side, which has won their last four in a row.
Having conceded only nine goals in 13 matches, Bengaluru possesses the best defensive record in the league but looked shaky against the Islanders in their last outing, with errors from goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Harmanjot Khabra costing them the two goals in a 2-0 loss. Head coach Carles Cuadrat will need to ensure his team stays sharp against an Odisha attack, which has been in fine form recently with Golden Boot frontrunner Aridane Santana leading the charge.
Up front, Bengaluru have been heavily reliant on captain Sunil Chhetri to come up with the goals and Bengaluru fans will hope their talisman is in top gear for Wednesday's match. Chhetri has been in brilliant form at home, with six of his eight goals this season coming at the Kanteerava and needless to say, the 35-year-old will look to keep the trend going against Odisha.
However, Udanta Singh and Manuel Onwu's lack of form will be a concern for the team. New signing Deshorn Brown gave a good account of himself after coming on as a substitute against Mumbai, worrying the Islanders with his clever movement off the ball and it won't be surprising to see Cuadrat unleash the Jamaican forward from the start on Wednesday to ease the pressure off Chhetri.
After a shaky start, Odisha FC have finally found their feet in Hero ISL 2019-20, winning their last four games on a trot and are currently fourth in the table - just one point behind Bengaluru. Striker Aridane Santana, who has scored five goals in the last four matches, has been central to the Bhubaneswar-based club's recent surge. The Spaniard also leads the Golden Boot table with nine goals from 13 matches and will be looking to add to his tally against the reigning champions. Santana’s away form will be an added bonus, with the Spaniard having scored six goals in seven away matches.
However, the challenge against Bengaluru will be a tough one, considering the Blues have one of the most resolute defences in the league this season and their stellar record at home. With Odisha's tendancy to stretch games using their pacey wingers, the battle between Odisha widemen, particularly Jerry Mawihmingthanga, and Bengaluru fullbacks, Rahul Bheke and Nishu Kumar, out wide, may prove crucial in the narrative of the game.
Another crucial piece of Gombau's unit will be midfielder Xisco Hernandez, who won the league with the Blues last season and will look to impress against his former team. With Vinit Rai suspended for the match and Nandhakumar Sekar doubtful, Xisco, along with Odisha captain Marcos Tebar, will need to step up their game, heading into the confrontation against a very solid Bengaluru midfield trio of Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu and Khabra.
Defensively, Gaurav Bora and Carlos Delgado have formed a formidable partnership at the back lately, having started the last four matches together and keeping two clean sheets.
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Rahul Bheke, Albert Serran, Juanan, Harmanjot Khabra, Nishu Kumar, Erik Paartalu, Dimas Delgado, Deshorn Brown, Sunil Chhetri, Ashique Kuruniyan
Odisha FC: Arshdeep Singh (GK), Gaurav Bora, Shubham Sarangi, Narayan Das, Carlos Delgado, Diawandou Diagne, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Romeo Fernandes, Xisco Hernandez, Marcos Tebar, Aridane Santana
Did you know?
- If Odisha triumph, they will become only the third club to win more than four successive matches in a Hero ISL season. Bengaluru and Chennaiyin are the other two.
- Odisha have only won two of their seven away game, against Mumbai City and Hyderabad FC.
- Bengaluru have conceded just 4 goals at home this season.
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 64: Bengaluru FC vs Odisha FC
Date: January 22 (Wednesday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV