Match 27 Preview: Unbeaten Bengaluru take on winless Kerala in clash of southern rivals

Southern rivals Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC are set to square off at the Fatorda Stadium on Sunday in Match 27 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21. The Blues will head into the game after a draw in their last outing and will be hoping to register their second win of the season. Kerala, meanwhile, are still winless in the ongoing campaign and will be eager to get the better of Bengaluru.

The head-to-head between the sides, though, clearly favour Bengaluru with the Blues winning four of the six encounters between the teams, while Kerala have won just once. Bengaluru will fancy their chances during Sunday’s contest between the sides as well and they will be expecting their big names to come good.

Sunil Chhetri has spearheaded their attack well so far but will be hoping for more from the likes of Cleiton Silva, Kristian Opseth and Deshorn Brown in the final third. Ashique Kuruniyan is another player who knows that he can do better while bombing forward. Bengaluru’s last game saw Udanta Singh come off the bench to score a goal and it would be a surprise not to see him in the starting XI on Sunday.

Dimas Delgado has been providing Bengaluru with creative thrust from midfield, while Erik Paartalu has been an imposing presence in the centre of the park as well as during set-pieces. Their defence is also solid with the likes of Juanan and Harmanjot Khabra organizing their backline.

“I think we are working well. We will be getting more points. We have six points but we could have eight or 10. We have to be mentally and physically strong,” Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat said ahead of the game.

Kerala, on the other hand, aren’t as defensively secure and are yet to keep a clean sheet this season. They are winless this campaign and if they don’t register a win against Bengaluru, it will be the first season that the Blasters have failed to emerge victorious in at least one of their opening five Hero ISL fixtures.

Their defence, which will be without Costa Nhamoinesu due to a red card in Kerala’s last outing, need to tighten things at the back. Bakary Kone will have his task cut out at the back alongside fullbacks Jessel Carneiro and Nishu Kumar, who will be playing against his former team for the first time since his move to Kerala.

The Blasters’ midfield and attack must also improve if they are to get the better of the Blues. Seityasen Singh and Vicente Gomez need to guide the relatively inexperienced Nongdamba Naorem, Rahul KP and Rohit Kumar. Kerala also need their attacking talents Gary Hooper, Facundo Pereyra and Jordan Murray to stand up and be counted following underwhelming starts to the season.

“They [Bengaluru FC] have very good Indian players, most of them are internationals. They changed their formation in the last two games. They are a good team, also trying to be better like us. It is going to be a big challenge… We have to be brave and work better and hard. We have confidence, we know we have a good team and players,” Kerala head coach Kibu Vicuna said ahead of the game.

Squads:

Bengaluru FC

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

Kerala Blasters FC

Goalkeepers: Albino Gomes, Bilal Husain Khan, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Muheet Khan

Defenders: Costa Nhamoinesu, Nishu Kumar, Bakary Kone, Jessel Carneiro, Sandeep Singh, Abdul Hakku, Lalruatthara

Midfielders: Sergio Cidoncha, Sahal Abdul Samad, Vicente Gomez, Seityasen Singh, Rahul KP, Givson Singh, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Yondrembem Denechandra, Nongdamba Naorem, Arjun Jayaraj, Ayush Adhikari, Jeakson Singh, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Ritwik Das, Rohit Kumar

Forwards: Gary Hooper, Jordan Murray, Facundo Pereyra, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Shaiborlang Kharpan

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 27: Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters FC

Date: December 13 (Sunday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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