Pune look to upset the odds against Bengaluru

League leaders, Bengaluru FC will look to extend their two-point league at the top of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2018-19 table when they host a struggling FC Pune City unit at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday. The Blues have looked irresistible since the start of the campaign, winning six and drawing one of their seven games so far.

The visitors, on the other hand, thought they had turned a corner after their win against Jamshedpur FC, but a disappointing loss at home to NorthEast United FC saw a familiar tale of the Stallions’ Hero ISL 2018-19 campaign unfold.

Bengaluru FC

Carles Cuadrat’s super-efficient Blues have become a model of consistency and class in the Hero ISL this season, thus drawing plaudits from the footballing fraternity in the country. Central to Bengaluru’s success has been their watertight defence which has let in just five goals this season – the fewest in the league. The Blues have also allowed the fewest shots on goal this season, while a win on Friday will see them collect all three points for the sixth match in a row.

History suggests that the Blues enjoy playing the Stallions. Five previous encounters between the two sides has seen the southern club come out on top in three of them with the others ending in a draw. The return to form of Udanta Singh in the last couple of games would have added to Cuadrat’s growing confidence in his players’ ability to mitigate rough patches.

Bengaluru FC’s attack hasn’t disappointed either. Led by the talismanic figure of Sunil Chhetri, the Blues striker-force is averaging close to two goals a game, although an untimely injury to striker Miku has forced Cuadrat to alter a few of his tactics. Chhetri, on the other hand, enjoys playing against the Stallions – scoring six goals in as many outings against them.

Here’s a look at Bengaluru’s season in numbers.

FC Pune City

Nothing seems to be going the Stallions’ way in Hero ISL 2018-19. After winning none of their opening seven games in the league, Pradyum Reddy’s side finally got the better of Jamshedpur FC at home, signaling at a possible change in fortune. Iain Hume’s return to the squad added further gloss to the result, but a humbling defeat at home to NorthEast United FC on Tuesday brought about a quick end to the Stallions’ short-lived celebrations.

Winless on their travels and a daunting prospect of an away day fixture at the home of pace-setters, Bengaluru FC will not come as a welcome sight for the Stallions’ fans. With 19 goals conceded, FC Pune City are also the worst defence in the league. They are the only team to not keep a clean sheet thus far in the campaign.

Despite that, the recent fight shown by the FC Pune City players will give Reddy something to build on. Hume, after getting valuable minutes under his belt, will be looking to start and provide the spark upfront. Marcelo Pereira and the impressive Ashique Kuruniyan, on the other hand, need to up their performance if their team are to get anything out of the Bengaluru tie.

Here’s a look at FC Pune City’s season in numbers.

PROBABLE LINE-UPS: 

Bengaluru FCGurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Rahul Bheke, Albert Serran, Juanan, Nishu Kumar, Harmanjot Khabra, Kean Lewis, Xisco Hernandez, Udanta Singh, Chencho Gyeltshen, Sunil Chhetri (C) 

FC Pune CityKamaljit Singh (GK), Gurtej Singh (C), Matt Mills, Ashutosh Mehta, Adil Khan, Ashique Kuruniyan, Robin Singh, Marko Stankovic, Marcelo Pereira, Nikhil Poojari, Iain Hume. 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Bengaluru FC are unbeaten in the league so far this season.
  • Bengaluru have conceded the fewest goals this season.
  • FC Pune City have conceded a league-high 19 goals this season.
  • Sunil Chhetri has scored more goals against the Stallions than any other opponent. 

FANSPEAK

Which Indian defender will have the more effective performance on the night?

  • Rahul Bheke
  • Ashutosh Mehta 

Have your say in the comments section below. 

Catch the match live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV from 7:30 PM.

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