Match 26 Preview: Rejuvenated FC Goa face hungry Bengaluru FC

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

The Gaurs finally registered their first victory after edging past SC East Bengal in a seven-goal thriller in the previous game. On the other hand, the Blues are yet to win since their first match of the season, losing to Hyderabad FC by a solitary goal in the previous game.

Form Guide

FC Goa

The club has won just two of their last five competitive matches, while they ended up on the losing side on the remaining three occasions. However, they did taste success earlier in the season, in the 2021 Durand Cup, which they won with a 1-0 win over Mohammedan Sporting Club in the final.

Bengaluru FC

The Blues have lost three, won once and shared the spoils in the remaining one of the last five competitive matches. It has been their worst ever start in the Hero ISL, and have collected just four points so far and find themselves at the ninth spot in the points table, just ahead of FC Goa and SC East Bengal.

Head to Head

In the nine head to head matches played between these two sides, Bengaluru FC have been victorious on five occasions, while FC Goa have claimed bragging rights in two of those. The remaining two matches have ended in a draw.

Team News

FC Goa

With not many options on hand, Juan Ferrando might stick to the same back four in spite of a poor display in the previous game, and maybe swipe Ivan Gonzalez for Dylan Fox. They have conceded 11 goals in four matches so far.

The midfield trio of Alberto Noguera, Glan Martins and Edu Bedia remains their lifeline, having worked tirelessly in the last encounter. Jorge Ortiz, who scored from the spot in the last game, will also get another chance to find his lost touch.

Ferrando can possibly call for reinforcements in the wings, especially with Nongdamba Naorem and Alexander Romario Jesuraj not getting starts against SC East Bengal. Striker Airam Cabrera and midfielder Brandon Fernandes are still out of action due to injury, with still no return date unavailable.

Bengaluru FC

The absence of Prince Ibara was clearly visible as they lacked punch in the attacking third in the last match, with Sunil Chhetri yet to get back to his normal. Even though Ibara will return to the squad, he is likely to start from the bench in the upcoming match.

For how long Alan Costa can run a one-man show in the defence is a big question, who desperately needs Musavu King besides him to strengthen the back-line which has already conceded 10 goals this season. King’s availability in the next game is yet to be confirmed.

There’s not much of a change that Marco Pezzaiuoli can afford in the next match, but, they definitely need to pull up their socks to keep the title hopes alive. They are once again set to miss the services of Iman Basafa and Udanta Singh due to injury.

Key Players

FC Goa

Jorge Ortiz: The Spanish midfielder has already been involved in four goal contributions in as many matches this season, but there is still scope for improvement. Going by the quality that Ortiz possesses, more goals are expected from his boots. Up against a vulnerable Bengaluru FC defence, it will provide the perfect opportunity for Ortiz to get his name on the scoresheet and get his confidence back.

Glan Martins: The Indian footballer has been a silent warrior in the midfield, having shared the workload in the particular area alongside Edu Bedia. He’s been great in maintaining the rhythm of the game, while pushing out the ball to the final third whenever needed. Martins, who averages almost 50 passes per game, will play a key role in the upcoming match against Bengaluru FC, a team which also likes to play possession-based football.

Bengaluru FC

Cleiton Silva: The Brazilian has been the Blues' standout performer in the season so far and was involved in three out of the seven goals that Bengaluru FC have scored this season. Silva was unlucky not to score in the last match against Hyderabad FC, but that can change drastically when they face FC Goa defence in the next match.

Jayesh Rane: While most of the Indian players were looking out of place, it was Rane who managed to create some problems for the opposition in the against Hyderabad FC. The attacking midfielder was finding spaces in crucial areas and even managed to produce final passes to forwards, only to see his teammates waste quite a few of them. With his form on the rise, the Blues will depend on him in the playmaking zone against the the Gaurs.

Key Stats

Venue record: FC Goa have played six matches at the Athletic Stadium, in Bambolim in the history of the Hero ISL, but they have managed to win just once. The Gaurs have lost once, while the remaining four matches ended in a draw. Meanwhile, the Blues have won four of the eight matches played at the venue.

Set-pieces: FC Goa have conceded 63.6% of their goals this season from set-pieces, which accounts to seven out of the 11 they have shipped in. No other team in the league has conceded more from set-pieces than the Gaurs.

Sunil Chhetri to hit century: The Indian skipper will play his 100th Hero ISL match if he features against FC Goa on Saturday evening. Chhetri will become the sixth footballer and the first forward to achieve the feat, during which he has scored 47 goals in the league.

Match timings and telecast details

Match: FC Goa vs Bengaluru FC

Date: 11th December 2021

Venue: Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

Kick-off time: 9.30 pm

Telecast: Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 3, Hindi Commentary on Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports 1 regional channels - Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu

Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.

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