Sunil Chhetri is a top professional, he's an option to start against Chennaiyin FC: Bengaluru FC’s Marco Pezzaiuoli

Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli wants his team to be better with the ball and needs them to be 100% focused on the next game, as his side faces rivals Chennaiyin FC in match 45 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Thursday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco da Gama, Goa.

Pezzaiuoli took positives from the team's last two games and urged his players to maintain that level of performance and spirit in their upcoming matches. The 53-year-old also reflected on his relationship with forward Sunil Chhetri and praised him for his dedication towards the game as he remains an option to start on Thursday.

The Blues are winless since their first match of the Hero ISL season against NorthEast United and will look to end 2021 on a high. 

Ahead of his side’s battle against Chennaiyin FC, the Bengaluru FC gaffer addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from Pezzaiuoli’s press conference:

How do you feel about facing Chennaiyin FC up next?

Chennai had a good start to the season. They are struggling a bit now; they have had a bit more rest meaning they will have the speed and sharpness against us in the game. We need to be 100% focused on ourselves because they have some great players like Chhangte [Lallianzuala] and Koman [Vladimir] in the midfield.

They are playing several kinds of formations. They played 4-4-2, defensive 4-3-3, and now 3-5-2. I don’t know which formation they’ll play against us, but we will be well prepared, we’ll react in all situations especially in the centre of the midfield because the strongest part of the opponent is the transition from the defense to offense. They’re strong with the ball and that’s why we need to come behind the defense line.

We need to be better with the ball than we did in the last eight games. We’re also strong in set-pieces that makes us extremely dangerous. The clean sheet was particularly important in the last game because it gives us a bit of confidence. We have to be patient through the 90 minutes and press the lines, but we want to have the ball as soon as possible. We’re not waiting for the opponent to decide what we want to do; we want to decide for ourselves.

The team had a few days off for Christmas in between. So, how is the morale of the team? Have you been able to work more on training?

It was a nice Christmas. You saw maybe on our social media how we celebrated our Christmas Eve. The mood is nice, it was good before and it’s good now. As a team, we are getting increasingly close to getting to know each other and these events are a time to think about other things, other than football.

We also had enough time to train, we trained on several things to improve on, we trained on tactic options, to bring some other ideas in the game as well. And of course, we try to prepare for the game against Chennaiyin on Thursday.

Sunil Chhetri is one of the best Indian players right now. So, how difficult is it for you to not make him start the game?

It’s not difficult because he’s a professional, he also analysed himself and he knows very well how to deal with these situations. He is an option for tomorrow because he has been training well. Sunil is very professional, he works extremely hard, and I see the luck is coming back in training. It’s only a matter of time before it comes back in the games as well.     

Bengaluru FC’s last two matches ended in draws. What do you take from those two games going into this match?

When you see how many goals teams like Jamshedpur are scoring now, it tells us how well we did defensively against them. The game against ATK Mohun Bagan was good, we showed that we have a good spirit within the team and that we want to play good football.

These games gave us a lot of confidence as well, the ATK Mohun Bagan game had a great spirit in the team. It not only showed our spirit for the game but also showed how we want to play football. We need to find the right balance between clean sheets and scoring goals to get the three points.

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