Rivals Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC lock horns in the fight for sixth place
A lot more than three points will be at stake when neighbours and rivals Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC clash at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru to keep their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) playoff hopes alive on Saturday. The Blues are three points off sixth place but have played a game more. Meanwhile, the Marina Machans are five points off the final playoff spot that Odisha FC currently occupy.
The momentum is with Bengaluru FC in this crucial encounter as they have won their last three Hero ISL games leading up to this game. Last week, the Blues sailed past Jamshedpur FC with a 3-0 win. In their last three games, Bengaluru FC have doubled their goal tally for the season, scoring eight and conceding just two in the process.
Head coach Simon Grayson will be pleased to see his star attacker Roy Krishna regaining his form. The Fijian has scored four goals this season, with two coming in the last two Hero ISL games for Bengaluru FC.
“It is a really important game for both teams. The matches on this weekend and next weekend will be vital and will shape the way the league finishes. All we can do is try and control what we can control and that is the game and our performance,” said Grayson. “We go into this game with a lot of confidence after winning three games on the trot. We will play with confidence, not arrogance,” he added.
Chennaiyin FC’s winless streak in the Hero ISL was extended to five games after their goalless draw against ATK Mohun Bagan last week. However, the Marina Machans have lost only one of these five games, drawing four in the process. In the reverse fixture near the start of the season, the spoils were shared after a 1-1 draw.
Petar Sliskovic failed to score for the first time in four games last week. The Croatian is Chennaiyin FC’s top scorer this season with eight goals in 14 games. All of his eight goals have come in seven of the last ten Hero ISL games.
Head coach Thomas Brdaric will be hoping to have Abdenasser El Khayati on the bench. The Dutchman has missed the last four games because of a hamstring injury but returned to training last week and could be on the bench against Bengaluru FC.
“I am looking forward to the match against Bengaluru FC. We analysed the game and showed all players the approach and how we have to play,” said Brdaric. “We don’t know if Nasser [El Khayati] will be a part of the squad for this match. We still have two training sessions left and after those sessions, we will decide if we want to include him in the squad or not,” he added.
This will be the 13th Hero ISL meeting between the two rivals. In the previous encounters, the Blues have won six matches, while the Marina Machans have won thrice, including the Hero ISL 2017-18 Final. (Hero ISL standings)