Cuadrat rubbishes 'favourites' tag, says both teams are evenly matched

Bengaluru FC’s second successive appearance in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) final sees them go up against FC Goa in an all-or-nothing tie at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday. The Blues overcame the Highlanders in the semi-finals and will be eager to go all the way this time around, having missed out on the title from the same position last season.

Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat was present at the pre-match press conference to address the media ahead of the highly-anticipated tie. Asked if his team’s superior head-to-head record against the Gaurs this season would play a part in the final, he said, "I think, in general, in football a lot of psychological things are happening. So, in some moments maybe it will affect, maybe not. It is something that we will know tomorrow. I don’t think it is going to give us confidence or they will approach the game in another way because they lost the last two games against us. I feel that it’s a final and a final is a completely different situation."

In their last encounter in the league phase, the Blues were reduced to ten men in the first half but rallied to win the contest 3-0. The Spaniard went on to cite that victory to explain how the smallest of margins make the difference between a triumph and a loss. "If you see that game, we won 3-0 but they hit the post at the start of the game with a shot from Ahmed Jahouh. Maybe if that went inside, we would be talking about a very different result. Maybe they would have won that game and it’s a completely different situation," he said.

Foreshadowing the final, Cuadrat said, "I think both teams, Goa and us, have a lot of quality in the midfield. The battle is going to be about the possession of the ball in midfield and how dangerous are the strikers going to be against the defenders. Goa have Ferran Corominas. He is a wonderful player, but we also have Miku. Goa have Brandon Fernandes and Jackichand Singh, we have Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh. All are really very good attackers. So, let’s see how the defenders manage against them."

The Spaniard also rebuffed the 'favourites' tag bestowed upon them and explained why he felt both teams have an equal chance of clinching the title. "I don’t think that we are favourites. I think both teams that arrived in the finals have a lot of things in common. Number of victories, number of games that we have lost. They have scored more goals, but we have missed Miku for half of the season. So, maybe with Miku, we would have scored similar number of goals. When Miku is playing, he’s also helping Sunil and Udanta to score more goals. I think that we are both favourites for the final. There is no clear favourite here," he opined.

The 50-year-old also reminisced about the heartbreaking loss in last season's final and claimed the experience, however painful it may be, can help the squad deal with the upcoming challenge better. "I think, to have lost last season’s final, can be a learning experience for the players. We have a lot of players who played last season. So, once you have lived that experience, you have lived that stressful situation. Maybe it can help you in some moment of the game. Last year was a clear example of what finals are all about. We scored first, we were at home and had the supporters helping us. So, it was like a great night and suddenly we get punished from a set-piece situation. It's surprising considering we were really good at set-pieces throughout the season but dropped the ball on the most important day of the year. What I think is that you can work a lot and prepare for a lot of different situations, but the momentum of the game takes you to one or the other side. So, let’s see what’s going to happen tomorrow," he stated.

Bengaluru midfielder, Dimas Delgado, who accompanied Cuadrat to the event, also shared his views on the big match and said, "I think last season was also a very special moment in my career because it’s always nice to be in a final in any league. So, I think playing another final for the second year in a row is special for everyone. I think all the people of the club and the fans deserve this trophy and we will fight to get it."

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