Bengaluru FC is set to host Kerala Blasters FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium to cap off the Saturday double header of Matchweek 18 of Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on March 2, 2024, starting 7:30 pm IST.

The Kerala Blasters FC is upbeat after their incredible 4-2 victory against FC Goa that they produced in Kochi last week. Two goals down in the first half after three straight losses, the Yellow Army struck four times in the final 40-odd minutes to storm back to winning ways.

Placed within the top two spots for the major chunk of the opening half of the campaign, the Ivan Vukomanovic-coached side is in the fifth spot in the standings currently. They have 29 points from 16 matches, with nine victories and two draws accompanied by five losses. Their recent slump means that the first placed Odisha FC (35) is distant by six points, though the Juggernauts (17) have played an additional game as compared to the Kochi-based outfit (16).

Contrastingly, Bengaluru FC has won twice in their previous three matches. Their last game against Hyderabad FC saw Sivasakthi Narayanan pulling off a breath-taking winner in the 87th minute to secure the crucial three points for the Blues.

Positioned ninth in the table, Bengaluru FC (18) is two points behind the sixth-placed Jamshedpur FC (20), despite both sides playing an equal number of matches so far (17).

What’s at stake?

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC has been gradually finding their best form at home recently. The team is unbeaten in their previous four games at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, winning thrice and drawing once in those matches.

In fact, they have lost only once in their last eight encounters at home, which was a 4-0 defeat handed to them by Mumbai City FC on December 8. They need to get their defensive act together though, conceding 26 goals in 17 matches, which is the joint-second most along with Chennaiyin FC (26) in the current campaign.

They have faced at least five shots on target in four out of their previous six ISL games. In fact, Bengaluru FC has been dealt with 4.7 shots on target per game, which is the highest aggregate amongst all teams in the competition.

There was special focus by the club to strengthen the backline in January, roping in India internationals such as Nikhil Poojary and Chinglensana Singh. Having given away seven goals in the last five matches, Bengaluru FC will be hopeful of maintaining discipline at the back in the coming clash.

Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala Blasters FC will be keen to record their first-ever league double against Bengaluru FC, having won the reverse fixture by 2-1 earlier this season. However, they have never defeated the Blues at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium yet, losing four times and drawing once in their five face-offs at the venue.

Kerala Blasters FC has built their success through their fortress at home in ISL 2023-24. They have won only thrice in their seven away matches in the current campaign.

However, they are equally gifted moving forward, with the quality of their frontline reflecting in the comeback in the previous match.

Kerala Blasters FC has recorded 58% dribble success rate this season, but head coach Ivan Vukomanovic only has 33% success rate in his six league fixtures against Bengaluru FC. Only against the Mohun Bagan Super Giant does Vukomanovic have a lower success rate (20%), which suggests that this will be a challenging encounter nevertheless for both the coach as well as the visitors.

Key Players to Watch Out

Chinglensana Singh (Bengaluru FC)

The central defender is set to make his 100th ISL appearance in the forthcoming fixture. This will be the 12th time that he will square off against Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL. In 15 appearances, Chinglensana Singh has made five interceptions and blocks each, along with 13 tackles, and 40 clearances in ISL 2023-24.

The player plays an active role in the build-up of attacking moves, recording an incredible 57 passes per game at 85% accuracy.

As mentioned above, getting their act together at the back is essential for Bengaluru FC in the current campaign, and Chinglensana will be crucial for the same as the Blues push for a qualification to the playoffs.

Dimitrios Diamantakos (Kerala Blasters FC)

The Greek striker has been having a stellar season on an individual level, netting 10 times and assisting thrice in 13 league appearances so far. It boils down to a goal contribution each per game, and he has shouldered additional responsibility in the absence of Adrian Luna and Kwame Peprah.

Dimitrios Diamantakos, however, does not have the best record in scoring against Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, having found the back of the net only once against the India international in the ISL.

Averaging 17 passes at 71% accuracy and having created 17 goal-scoring opportunities, Diamantakos has been the engine behind the Kerala Blasters FC so far in this campaign.

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Played – 14

Bengaluru FC – 8

Kerala Blasters FC – 4

Draws – 2

Trivia: Kerala Blasters FC’s Naocha Singh has won two tackles per game in the current ISL season, which is the highest rate of any player to have played a minimum of five games in the competition this term.

Team Talk

“Since I have arrived here, I have said that we are taking it game-by-game. At the end of the season, we will have the points that we deserve, but we cannot look too far ahead,” Bengaluru FC Head coach Gerard Zaragoza said ahead of the match.

“In this league, we have seen that the position on the table doesn't matter. So, it is now all about the mindset and we want to have the mindset of winning every game, a mindset of wanting to stay at the top end of the table,” Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic said in the pre-match press conference.

ISL Fantasy

Dimitrios Diamantakos (8.5cr)

13 goal contributions in ISL 2023-24

Naocha Singh (3.5cr)

Has recorded 26 tackles this season

Sunil Chhetri (7.1cr)

Has collected 53 fantasy points in ISL 2023-24

If not registered already, fans can participate in the overall league or club-based leagues based on their preferences. Create private leagues, inviting friends and fellow football aficionados to compete. Prizes include a Sony PlayStation ® 5 gaming console, EA Sports FC 24, signed club merchandise, and a Gift Card worth INR 20,000, which will be awarded to 100 winners at the end of the season. Sign up at: 

Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.