Revamped Bengaluru FC eye the Hero ISL crown again under Marco Pezzaiuoli

Photo credit: Bengaluru FC Twitter

Bengaluru FC have earned the distinction of being one of the most successful sides in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), and the former champions would be looking to improve on their performance from last season, which was underwhelming by their standards.

The Blues had never failed to finish outside the semi-final places since joining the ISL in 2017 and ahead of the new campaign there have been notable changes at the club.

Marco Pezzaiuoli has taken over as the Bengaluru FC head coach ahead of the eighth edition, and the 52-year-old has a talented, well-rounded squad at his disposal, courtesy of the club’s decisive activity in the summer transfer window.

The German-born Italian who has previously worked in Germany, South Korea, Japan, and China, is eager to use his experience to improve the sport in India.  “I’m very proud to be a part of Bengaluru FC, and excited about the challenge to bring the team back to the top. I am always keen to gather experiences in life and football and to be able to make a difference wherever I go. I’m also keen to share my experience to help Indian football grow,” said Pezzaiuoli during an interaction with the Bengaluru FC Media team.

Tournament history

The Blues were Hero ISL champions in the 2018-19 season, while also qualifying for the top four on two other occasions.

Their debut season saw them finish top of the league but narrowly miss out on the title to Chennaiyin FC in the final. They came back stronger in the 2018-19 season, finishing top of the table yet again, and they also went on to clinch the title defeating FC Goa in the final.

Bengaluru FC stormed into the semi-finals in their third consecutive season in 2019-20, when they secured a third-place finish in the table, but came up short in the semi-finals. The 2020-21 season was the only season in which the outfit failed to qualify for the last four, finishing 7th in the points table with 22 points.

Players to watch out

Yrondu Musavu-King

Gabonese defender Yrondu Musavu-King will be a vital cog in the Blues’ defence in the upcoming campaign, having arrived in India with the experience of playing in some top European sides like Granada CF, Udinese, FC Lorient, and Toulouse FC. The towering center-back has also been capped internationally by Gabon, debuting for the national team back in 2013.

Sunil Chhetri

The Bengaluru FC skipper has been a reliable figure in attack, scoring the most goals for the club in each of the last three seasons. The former ‘Hero of the League’ will be looking to earn the distinction of becoming the highest goal scorer in the history of the competition, as he needs only 2 goals to overtake Ferran Corominas’ record of 48 goals.

Cleiton Silva

The 34-year-old forward had a productive first season in India, scoring 7 goals and registering 4 assists for Bengaluru FC. The Brazilian was a constant threat for the Blues in the final third last season and is bound to be a feisty customer for most oppositions in the league. Before his stint in India, Silva had established himself as a prolific scorer in the Thai top tier, winning the golden boot twice.

Bruno Ramires

A product of the Bahia Youth Academy, Ramires has featured for several clubs in Brazil and Portugal, with his most recent assignment being in the Primeira Liga with Belenenses. The versatile midfielder made 32 appearances across all competitions for Belenenses leading them to a 10th place finish in the league.

Read all the transfer news here.

Key Battles

The fixture against Kerala Blasters FC will be a key game for Bengaluru FC in the upcoming season thanks to the rivalry the club enjoys with the Kochi-based side. Backed by the passionate support of the Manjappada and the West Block Blues, the South Indian Derby has gained prominence as a rivalry in the past couple of seasons and has often delivered pulsating encounters.

Bengaluru FC walked away with a 4-2 win in their home fixture last season, but the Blasters bounced back to grab a 2-1 win in the reverse tie, with Rahul KP scoring an injury-time goal. With new managers, new players, and new styles of football being implemented by either side, the game is expected to be a thrilling matchup.

The two sides face off against each other on November 28, 2021 at the Athletic Stadium, Bambolim.

Fixtures

Date

Fixture

Venue

20-11-2021

Bengaluru FC v/s Northeast United FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

24-11-2021

Odisha FC v/s Bengaluru FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

28-11-2021

Bengaluru FC v/s Kerala Blasters FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

04-12-2021

Bengaluru FC v/s Mumbai City FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

08-12-2021

Hyderabad FC v/s Bengaluru FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

11-12-2021

FC Goa v/s Bengaluru FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

16-12-2021

Bengaluru FC v/s ATK Mohun Bagan

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

20-12-2021

Jamshedpur FC v/s Bengaluru FC

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

30-12-2021

Chennaiyin FC v/s Bengaluru FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

04-01-2022

Bengaluru FC v/s SC East Bengal

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

Squad

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lara, Sharon Padattil

Defenders: Alan Costa, Pratik Chowdhary, Wungngayam Muirang, Sarthak Golui, Ajith Kumar Kamaraj, Ashique Kuruniyan, Namgyal Bhutia, Parag Shrivas, Yrondu Musavu-King, Roshan Singh Naorem, Biswa Kumar Darjee

Midfielders: Bruno Edgar Silva Almeida, Jayesh Rane, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Iman Basafa, Danish Farooq, Rohit Kumar, Ajay Chhetri, Damaitphang Lyngdoh

Forwards: Prince Ibara, Sunil Chhetri, Edmund Lalrindika, Udanta Singh, Cleiton Silva, Bidyashagar Singh, Leon Augustine, Siva Sakthi Narayanan, Aakashdeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh

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