Match 56 Preview: Bengaluru look to avoid fifth straight loss as they take on NorthEast United

NorthEast United FC take on Bengaluru FC as they bid to end their six-match winless run in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Tuesday. The Blues slumped to a fourth consecutive loss against SC East Bengal in their last outing while the Highlanders were condemned to a 4-2 defeat against Hyderabad FC in their previous encounter.

Bengaluru though will hope to get their season back on track against a side that drew 2-2 with them in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign. The Blues, in fact, enjoy a good record against NorthEast having won five, drawn three and lost one of their nine encounters against each other.

When the two sides square off on Tuesday, the main area of concern for the Highlanders will be the inconsistency of their attack. After netting eight times in their first five games of the season, NorthEast United have managed to score only four more times in their last five matches. However, the Highlanders can look to seize the initiative against a Bengaluru side that have conceded six goals during their four-match losing streak but will need to convert the chances that they create.

The Highlanders’ highest goal-scorer Kwesi Appiah (3) has missed NorthEast United’s last two matches due to an injury and his strike partner Idrissa Sylla hasn’t put his best foot forward in the Ghanaian’s absence. Sylla has scored twice this season and he needs to improve his finishing if he wants to help his side earn full points against a Bengaluru team that has failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven matches.

"We know that Bengaluru have lost four games [in a row], but every game is new and we have to respect them. I'm sure that the players will give their best tomorrow. Whatever the outcome, we know our duty. We have to forget the last match, focus on the next match and put in 100 per cent to win... No matter if we play against the best team or not, we have to be ready. We are ready for any possible attack from them," NorthEast United’s assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew said in the pre-match press conference.

Meanwhile, Bengaluru have not been able to replicate the balance of the teams that have won them titles in the past. Although some of their attacking problems were evident last season as well, the Blues’ resilient defence propelled the side into the top four. This season, Bengaluru have already conceded the same number goals as they did in the league stage last campaign (13) and their attack has only scored 12 goals.

Bengaluru have had their fair share of shots on target during the run of four successive losses but their only goal in those games came from a penalty against Mumbai City FC. This points at their inability to be clinical in front of goal with the likes of Kristian Opseth and Deshorn Brown yet to find the back of the net this season.

"It has been a difficult time for everyone. For the players and everyone involved with the club. It has not been easy. We need to overcome this form and we are working on it. The players are motivated, and I am expecting them to do better against NorthEast United. They [NorthEast United] aren't a bad team at all, and their position on the table is not a reflection of their performances. They have the ability to fight back and we cannot take them lightly," Bengaluru’s interim head coach Naushad Moosa said ahead of the match.

Even though both NorthEast United and Bengaluru began the season relatively well, they have fallen down the table due to a string of bad results and underwhelming performances. Both teams will hope to get the better of their opponent as they aim for a turnaround in fortunes in the second half of Hero ISL 2020-21.       

Squads:

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

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

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 56: NorthEast United FC vs Bengaluru FC

Date: January 12 (Tuesday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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