Match 21 Preview: NorthEast United FC face tough challenge against Bengaluru FC
After a second win of the season in their last game, NorthEast United FC will take on Bengaluru FC in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday. With two wins and two draws in four matches, the Highlanders have started their campaign on a strong note but will need to be at their best against a Bengaluru side that won their first game of the season in their last outing.
The head-to-head record does not favour Gerard Nus’ men with only one win, two draws and five defeats in eight matches against the Blues. As a matter of fact, Bengaluru have never lost to NorthEast United during the league stage of the Hero ISL and Nus will hope to change this statistic in the upcoming encounter.
The Blues will be feeling confident after their win against Chennaiyin last time around but will need to get better in the final third as the season progresses having attempted only 23 shots so far, the least by a team this campaign. Carles Cuadrat’s men showed an improvement in attack against Chennaiyin with Bengaluru managing five shots on target in the game as compared to three in their first two matches.
Sharing his thoughts on the encounter against NorthEast in the pre-match press conference, Bengaluru head coach Cuadrat said, “It’s going to be a very tactical match because they are a very well-organized team. So, it will be interesting to see how we face the match and what we might do to try and get the three points.”
One area of Bengaluru’s game that’s remained consistent is their defence and they already have two clean sheets in three games in Hero ISL 2020-21. Since last season, they have kept 13 clean sheets in 23 matches.
However, the Blues will face a buoyant Highlanders side, who have scored six goals in four matches this season. Furthermore, NorthEast United also have a very resilient defence and Bengaluru will be wary of this keeping in mind that they are yet to score a goal from open play.
The Highlanders’ defensive prowess is highlighted by the fact that they have faced just six shots on target so far. Only Hyderabad FC and ATK Mohun Bagan have conceded fewer shots on target with all the goals that NorthEast have conceded (3) coming in the first half.
NorthEast United have also shown that having less possession doesn’t have much to do with the eventual outcome of games. Even though they have an average possession of 41% this season – the least for any team – the Highlanders have scored in all their matches. They have attempted 12 shots on target and have a shot accuracy of 30.76% – the third best in the league.
"Every team has a different way of creating chances. We try many ways to become dangerous for the opponent, whether it is counter-attack, positional play or from set-pieces. We try to be unpredictable because then it's hard for the opponents to deal with us. So it's important to be good in all those areas," Highlanders head coach Gerard Nus said ahead of the game.
That said, it’s worth noting that the Highlanders were in a similar position last season with two draws and two wins in their first four games. However, they could not finish higher than ninth in the standings and the upcoming clash against Bengaluru will be a tough test for them with the result on Tuesday likely to give us a better idea about NorthEast’s chances of reaching the semi-finals.
NorthEast United FC
Goalkeepers: Gurmeet, Nikhil Deka, Sanjiban Ghosh, Subhasish Roy
Defenders: Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Mashoor Shereef, Nabin Rabha, Nim Dorjee, Provat Lakra, Rakesh Pradhan, Wayne Vaz
Midfielders: Federico Gallego, Imran Khan, Khassa Camara, Lalengmawia, Lalrempuia Fanai, Pragyan Gogoi, Rochharzela
Forwards: Britto PM, Idrissa Sylla, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Kwesi Appiah, Lalkhawpuimawia, Luis Machado, Suhair Vadakkepeedika
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Lara Sharma, Sharon
Defenders: Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Francisco Gonzalez, Ajith Kumar, Joe Zoherliana, Biswa Darjee, Namgyal Bhutia, Parag Srivas, Pratik Chaudhari, Wungngayam Muirang
Midfielders: Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Suresh Wangjam, Thoi Singh, Ajay Chhetri, Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha, Amay Morajkar, Harmanjot Khabra, Cleiton Silva
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Kristian Opseth, Ashique Kuruniyan, Deshorn Brown, Udanta Singh, Edmund Lalrindika, Leon Augustin, Semboi Haokip, Naorem Singh
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 21: Bengaluru FC vs NorthEast United FC
Date: December 8 (Tuesday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV