Match 11 Preview: Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters FC renew rivalry

Bengaluru FC will be up against Kerala Blasters FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 match at the GMC Athletic Stadium, in Bambolim, on Sunday.

The Blues would be in search of a win to bring their campaign back on track, after the disappointing 1-3 loss to Odisha FC in the last game. Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters FC played out a goalless draw against NorthEast United FC in the previous game, after a loss against ATK Mohun Bagan in the season opener.

Form Guide

Bengaluru FC

The Blues have won two, lost two and shared points in one of their last five matches, which also includes the matches from the AFC Cup group stage as well. They have an identical record in the five pre-season matches as well, which justifies that Bengaluru FC have been inconsistent off late.

Kerala Blasters FC

The Blasters are winless in their last 10 Hero ISL matches, with their last victory dating back to January, earlier this year, incidentally against Bengaluru FC. However, out of the eight pre-season matches they played ahead of the league, the Tuskers had won five, lost two and shared points in the remaining one.

Head to Head record

Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC have played eight matches against each other, with the Blues ending up as winners in five of those matches. The Blasters have won two out of them, while the remaining one ended in a draw. In the last five head to head matches between these two sides, Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC have won twice each and shared the spoils in the remaining tie.

Team News

Bengaluru FC

After an inspiring 4-2  win against NorthEast United FC in their opening game, Bengaluru FC slumped to a disappointing 1-3 loss to Odisha FC in the following one. As the score suggests, they have conceded far too many goals in the two matches combined, and Marco Pezzaiuoli needs to sort out the defence as soon as possible. In fact, they have been very vulnerable against counter attacks, in spite of a relatively experienced back four in the ranks.

Alan Costa and Musavu King have played only two matches together in the centre-back position, it would be interesting to see how they develop as a pair as the season progresses. Jayesh Rane had a quiet evening against Odisha FC, but Bruno Ramires has looked pretty solid in the central midfield position in both the games. Suresh Singh Wangjam, who has been so impressive for Bengaluru FC in the previous season, is yet to find his foot this term.

Prince Ibara was threatening throughout the last match, yet, goals eluded him. It was after the introduction of Cleiton Silva that the team was infused with an added punch in the final third. Considering both Ibara and Silva cannot play at the same time quite often, Pezzaiuoli needs to strike the right balance of sharing game time between the two, or else a centre-back has to be compromised, which is not ideal after conceding five goals in two matches. Even though Udanta Singh impressed in the opening game, Sunil Chhetri has had a very average start to his new season by his standards.

Kerala Blasters FC

The 2-4 loss against ATK Mohun Bagan was not the ideal start, but their intent was visible throughout the game, which gave Kerala Blasters FC fans a glimmer of hope. However, the 0-0 draw against NorthEast United FC was a bitter pill to swallow for its faithfuls. In spite of creating golden opportunities to score, the Blasters couldn’t capitalise. Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Sahal Abdul Samad and Alvaro Vazquez could have all ended up on the scoresheet in the previous game.

Moving on to the positives, the duo of Enes Sipovic and Marko Leskovic were pretty compact at the heart of the defence in the last game, having denied the Highlanders a single shot on target. However, the Blasters would like their Indian midfielders to come to the party soon. Sahal Abdul Samad, Ayush Adhikari have been inconsistent, while Jeakson Singh has been slightly better.

Adrian Luna has been their most impressive player in both the games, but he lacks support and that’s an area of concern for head coach Vukomanovic who might have to sort out his priorities, whether to deploy Luna as the second striker (as done in the last game), or play him a bit deep, in the playmaking zone.

Key Players

Cleiton Silva

The Brazilian forward has been their most effective player in the season so far, in spite of starting from the bench in the previous game. Having played around 110 minutes in the ongoing season, the forward has taken four shots at the goal, having scored once and also provided an assist in the same. It was Silva’s introduction in the previous game against Odisha FC, that the Blues regained momentum in the attacking third.

Sunil Chhetri

For the talismanic striker who has always delivered the goods for Bengaluru FC, it has been a very contrasting start to the season for him. Yet, Chhetri has always picked himself up from bad patches in the past, and there’s every reason to believe he will do the same again. For a footballer who always remains busy inside the box, the match against Kerala Blasters FC might just be the game to find his lost touch once again.

Kerala Blasters FC

Adrian Luna

There’s no denying that the Uruguayan has been one of the most impressive footballers in the Hero ISL 2021-22. With 12 crosses, one shot and an assist to his name, Luna has kept Kerala Blasters FC side very much alive in the two matches played so far. Whether he plays as a forward or in an advanced playmaking zone, the footballer will definitely hold the key to his side’s fortune in the upcoming match.

Jessel Carneiro

The skipper has been pretty consistent in the side-back position so far and the stats speaks for itself. Not only has Carneiro been doing his defensive role pretty well, but has been effective on the overlap. The footballer has flashed in four crosses, taken two shots at the goal and completed 88 passes at an accuracy of about 80%, making him the most effective Indian footballer for the Blasters in the Hero ISL 2021-22.

Key Stats

Stadium Trivia: Bengaluru FC played four matches at the GMC Athletic Stadium last season, having won three and lost once. Incidentally, their only loss in the venue came against Kerala Blasters FC, with the match ending 2-1 in favour of the Tuskers.

Clean Sheets: Kerala Blasters FC have never kept a clean sheet against Bengaluru FC in the eight matches they have played so far. On the other hand, Bengaluru FC have also failed to keep a clean sheet in the past six ISL matches, having conceded at least two or more goals in each of those games. Looks like we are heading for a goal fest!

Sunil Chhetri: The Indian national team skipper is the highest goal scorer in this fixture, with five strikes to his name. In the last five matches against the Blasters, Chhetri has found the net in three of those occasions.

Match Timings and Telecast Details

Match: Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Date: 28 November

Venue: GMC Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

Kick-off time: 7.30 pm

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