Bengaluru look to cut down Goa's lead at the top

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 finalists, Bengaluru FC and FC Goa go head-to-head in the first Hero ISL fixture of 2020 on Friday. The match, which will be played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, is a massive one at the top of the table, with the Gaurs currently sitting at the top with 21 points and the defending champions five points off them in third.

In the reverse fixture between the two outfits earlier in the season, the Gaurs scored from a late spot-kick to share the points and they will now be looking to clinch all three to extend their lead at the top.

Bengaluru FC

The defending champions have been far from perfect so far this season with most of their problems stemming from a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal. With just 11 goals to their name so far, the Blues have the joint third-worst goal-scoring record in the division and are the lowest scorers in the current top four. Their problems are further compounded when they go up against teams near and above them in the table.

While Sergio Lobera’s Goa prevented Sunil Chhetri and Co. from grabbing all three points earlier in the season, Bengaluru’s two defeats so far have come against Mumbai City FC and ATK FC – the other two members of the current top four. Bengaluru, however, have been quite successful against Goa in the recent past, winning four and losing just a single game in the last five meetings between the two. Bengaluru’s home record is equally outstanding and should give them enough confidence going into Friday’s encounter.

FC Goa

After four wins on the trot, the Gaurs go into the fixture with the confidence of coming away with three points. Goals have been flying in for Lobera’s men, who are especially dangerous in the second half of matches. Close to 60% of their goals have come after the restart, with teams eventually tiring out and finding it difficult to pin down Goa’s attackers. This aspect of their game is something Bengaluru will be extra mindful of given they’ve conceded close to 70% of their goals in the last 15 minutes of matches so far this term.

The form of winger Brandon Fernandes has been a big contributor to Goa’s incredible first half of the season. The India international’s tally of two goals and five assists so far is already equal to what he managed in terms of goal contributions throughout the course of last season and is up there with the likes of Roy Krishna and Ferran Corominas as the division’s finest attackers.

Probable line-ups:

Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Albert Serran, Juanan, Harmanjot Khabra, Nishu Kumar, Erik Paartalu, Raphael Augusto, Dimas Delgado, Sunil Chhetri (C), Ashique Kuruniyan, Udanta Singh

FC Goa: Mohammad Nawaz (GK), Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes, Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai, Lenny Rodrigues, Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Ahmed Jahouh, Hugo Boumous, Ferran Corominas

Did you know?

  • If FC Goa manage to get a win, it’ll be their fifth consecutive win in the Hero ISL – a club record.
  • Bengaluru FC have beaten FC Goa four times in Hero ISL history – the most by any side.
  • FC Goa have scored 11 goals from set-pieces so far this season – the most by any side.

Fan Speak:

Will Bengaluru end the Goa juggernaut and get close closer to the top of the table?

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 50: Bengaluru FC vs FC Goa

Date: January 3 (Friday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV

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