Hero Super Cup semi-final 1: Key battles to watch out for in Bengaluru FC vs Jamshedpur FC
After an intense and dramatic group stage, Hero Super Cup now moves onto the semi-finals as teams gear up for the last push for the silverware. Hero Indian Super League (ISL) participants Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC will lock horns in the first semi-final in hopes of making it to the ultimate stage, the final.
Both teams topped their groups with dominaant performances. The Blues registered one win and two draws while Aidy Boothroyd's team turned out to be the best-performing team in the group stages with three victories, becoming the only team to win the most possible points. The clash brings the Hero ISL finalists against the Men of Steel who failed to fulfil their ambitions in the Hero ISL.
Simon Grayson's men would be confident coming into the match after doing the double over Jamshedpur FC in the Hero ISL campaign but the Men of Steel look like a different team in the Hero Super Cup, carrying a fierce attacking threat to take the team forward. Boothroyd's team have scored 11 goals in three group stage matches, the most in the competition.
So, the mini battles on the pitch will be the key for either of the teams if they are to win the crunch fixture. Here's a look at where the place in the Hero Super Cup Semi-final match between Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC can be won or lost:
Javi Hernandez vs Rafael Crivellaro
Two of the best foreign midfielders in Indian Football, Javi Hernandez and Rafael Crivellaro have been the creators-in-cheif for their respective teams. Controlling the tempo of the game through the middle of the park, from playing defence-splitting through balls to scoring goals when they're needed the most, both players have delivered and would look to continue the trend in the semi-final
After an impeccable Hero ISL campaign, Hernandez carried his form into Hero Super Cup with two goals in three group games. The 33-year-old was at his best when he set up two goals for the Blues against Jamshedpur FC in Hero ISL. The midfielder scored the opening goal of the tournament for the Blues against Sreenidi Deccan FC and the second goal to seal the victory against Hero I-League winner RoundGlass Punjab FC showcasing his knack for scoring goals. For Crivellaro, his two goals and an assist against FC Goa including a beautiful free-kick was a perfect example of his prowess and the Brazilian was at the peak of his powers when he set up the opening goal against Hero ISL champions ATK Mohun Bagan.
The battle of midfield will be crucial in the semi-final fixture for both teams to assert their dominance. Crivellaro would be looking to lead his side to keep the unbeaten run in the competition going while Hernandez would be on the lookout to lead his team into the final, making it a third final for the Blues this season.
Roy Krishna vs Pratik Chaudhari
A veteran striker going against an exciting centre-back, both have played an integral part in their team's success in the competition. Roy Krishna has led the line for the Blues and Pratik Chaudhari has been a rock at the back for the Men of Steel.
The Fijian striker scored the all-important opening goal against Kerala Blasters FC in the final fixture of Group A, showcasing his ability to come up big for his team. Grayson would be hoping for his striker to repeat his heroics against Jamshedpur FC when he scored against them in the reverse fixture in the latest Hero ISL campaign. Meanwhile, Chaudhari has formed a great partnership with Eli Sabia in the heart of the defence, his no-nonsense and aggressive style of defending is applauded by head coach Boothroyd. The 24-year-old is also a dangerous weapon in the attacking set-pieces, his goal against FC Goa in the opening fixture of the tournament is a perfect example.
This battle will be key in the final outcome.
Suresh Wangjam vs Boris Singh
Coming from neighbouring states, former teammates of the Indian National team youth setup, Suresh Wangjam and Boris Singh would be locking horns in midfield to gain control of the semi-final clash. Both players possess electrifying acceleration, mobility and great endurance, the recipe for a physically demanding battle for midfield supremacy.
For the Blues, Wangjam is a robust midfielder who is not afraid of putting a tackle and hounding the opponents, his late runs into the box are a surprise element which makes him unpredictable. The 22-year-old would be responsible for binding the defense with the attack while intercepting and sensing out any dangerous move from the opponents. Meanwhile, Boris has been more influential at the attacking end of the pitch scoring and creating goals for the Red Miners. The 23-year-old scored twice against ATK Mohun Bagan while creating numerous attacking opportunities in three group stage matches.
The resilience, robust defence minded Suresh meets tricky attack-minded Boris, in order to guide their respective teams to the ultimate prize, both players would not only need to be on the top of their game but they'll be needed to put out exemplary performances for their teammates to follow.