Bengaluru FC Team Analysis : can they win another title?

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Resembling a powerful squad ahead of the 2020-21 season, the Blues appear to be quite smart selectors. Can Bengaluru FC bag another Hero ISL title this time?

Bengaluru FC, ever since their inception 7 years ago, have impressed pundits and football fans alike in the bygone seasons of Hero ISL with their breathtaking performances. Finding itself among a handful of Indian clubs who have experienced enviable success, the Blues are one of the most decorated teams in the country, having won almost every major trophy. It is with these exclusive standards and optimism that the players, coaching staff and fans approach every campaign.

Despite their success and notwithstanding their prosperity, the 2019-20 term witnessed Bengaluru FC having a frustrating season. An ISL semi-final elimination, that too, after leading by two goals, must have been devastating for all the fans and stakeholders alike. With the AFC Cup also in their fixtures, Carles Cuadrat will hopefully be aiming for nothing short of the title this time around.

Last Season’s Performance:  Third

There were promising signs from Bengaluru FC at the beginning of the 2019-20 season. The Blues began with three stalemates, however proceeded to win three matches in their next four encounters, thereby stretching out their unbeaten streak to seven matches. However, a line of horrible showings towards the finish of the group stage saw them drop down to third in the points table, missing out on the top spot by nine points.

They commenced the playoffs facing ATK well with a two-goal lead on aggregate, only for the inevitable heroes to create a surprising rebound triumph when they locked horns once again in Kolkata.

Pre-Season


Bengaluru FC, in their pre season friendly, played an intriguing 1-1 draw against Hyderabad FC. Wungngyam Muirang, on one hand, marked the scoresheet for the Blues. Aridane Santana’s spot-kick for Hyderabad was the other goal in the game.

Coaching Staff

Carles Cuadrat proceeds in charge for the third year, assisted by Javier Pinillos and Naushad Moosa. The Blues are also directed under goalkeeping coach Julen Esnaola and their fitness coach Mikel Guillen.

Cuadrat is known for his tactical understanding. The trait of playing to the strengths of one’s team and attacking the weakness of the opposition as a football coach is pretty well embedded in him. Blues are one of the most embellished groups in the nation that can be scrappy when necessary or beautiful if needed.

Transfer Dealings

It proved to be quite a summer of some stir for the Blues, as they brought in ‘key inclusions to key areas of the pitch’, both in the backline as well as the attackers. Versatile players who were already a part of the Bengaluru FC family had their services retained through fresh contracts.

Ins

After a problematic past season, the Blues rushed to make changes to their squad. A total of 10 signings were made. Foreigners like Cleiton Silva and Kristian Opsethmore strengthened the squad. The arrival of Pratik Chaduhari from Mumbai City FC and Ajith Kumar from Chennai City FC would bolster a defence that needs fine-tuning. The most lucrative of all became the arrival of former Mohun Bagan ace Fran Gonzalez. The Spaniard was the top scorer for I-League-winning Mariners side lately.

Outs

A few outsiders like Raphael Augusto, Albert Serran, Nili Perdomo and Kevaughn Frater have left India to take their talents elsewhere. Manuel Onwu has moved to Odisha FC, where he has managed to garner success on loan. While Prabhsukhan Gill was signed by Kerala Blasters, Rino Anto and Eugeneson Lyngdoh moved to East Bengal. The biggest departure from Bengaluru FC was Nishu Kumar’s transition to Kerala Blasters. The full-back playing youngblood, who was a significant pinion in Cuadrat’s framework, will be difficult to supplant.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Lara Sharma, Dipesh Chauhan

Defenders: Rahul Bheke, Pratik Chaudhari, Harmanjot Khabra, Fran Gonzalez, Juanan Gonzalez, Ajith Kumar, Wungngayam Muirang, Joe Zoherliana, Parag Shrivas, Biswa Darjee

Midfielders: Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Ajay Chhetri, Namgyal Bhutia, Suresh Wangjam, Naorem Roshan Singh, Amay Morajkar, Thoi Singh, Emanuel Lalchhanchuaha

Attackers: Sunil Chhetri, Cleiton Silva, Kristian Opseth, Deshorn Brown, Ashique Kuruniyan, Udanta Singh, Edmund Lalrindika, Leon Augustine, Thongkhosiem Haokip

Formation

4-2-3-1

This seems likely to be the ideal formation playing under Cuadrat to witness during all Bengaluru FC matchdays. The prolific duo Fran and Juanan start as center-backs in front of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. While Rahul Bheke takes up the right side, Ajith Kumar would be expected to fill in for Nishu in the left-back role.

Dimas and Erik would be the double pivot in the middle of the park, while Chhetri plays in the opening behind the striker flanked by Ashique and Udanta on either side. Cleiton Silva will take up the No. 9 role.

4-4-2 (Alternate)

Both Ashique and Udanta start wider,likely to assist further forward. This strategy would prove to be useful against teams that like to keep the ball and rotate possession, giving a good base for counter-attacks.

The greatest change in the development is Kristain Opseth’s incorporation. The Norwegian will play alongside Chhetri in a two-man frontline with each of them switching involvement during the build-up play.

Bengaluru FC will face FC Goa on 22nd November

Strengths

Team endurance and adaptability is their key strength and speciality. Bengaluru FC under Cuadrat have shown immense tactical flexibility, adopting varying strategies against varying teams, analysing their negative points and learning from them. Another key part of their gameplay is their proficiency from set-piece scenarios.

Erik Paartalu and Juanan are marking nightmares from corner and free-kick situations and the addition of Fran Gonzalez has only increased the threat. With the likes of Dimas, who is able to deliver pinpoint balls into the box, opposing defenders will have to be at their very best to counter this line of attack.

Weaknesses

The one big weakness on their part has been their failure to replace Miku. The Former Bengaluru FC striker had been highly influential and his replacements have failed to deliver equivalently.

The signings of Cleiton Silva and Kristian Opseth are meant to absolve the problem, but their lack of familiarity with Indian football might pose other issues. The lack of depth in midfield is also another big issue for the Blues. Any injury to key players could become problematic for Cuadrat.

Players to Watch

Fran Gonzalez

The player who is mostly likely going to benefit from Bengaluru FC’s set-piece proficiency is former Mariner Fran Gonzalez. The defender was the top scorer for the 2019-20 I-league winning side (10 goals). His lethal  instinct and attack positioning during set-piece situations will pose a threat to opposition defenders.

Cleiton Silva

If there was one position last season where Bengaluru FC failed to impress, it was that of the striker. The Blues tried to replace Miku three times and came away with disappointing results on each occasion, leading to their eventual semi-final exit. Onwu, Deshorn Brown and Frater failed to live up to expectations. That is the exact reason why Silva’s performances would be scrutinized by both fans and pundits. The Brazilian will need to produce steady results, if Bengaluru are to lift the coveted title.

Rahul Bheke

With some new faces in defence after the departure of Nishu and Serran, Bheke would need to be the X-Factor for Carles Cuadrat. His versatility will be key, especially during the early stages of the campaign, as Cuadrat strives to find the ideal starting lineup. He has been a dependable presence at the back for the Blues and will need to continue his performances, if Bengaluru FC are to weather the storm in the early weeks of the Indian Super League.

Bengaluru have always set high standards and they would be looking for nothing short of their second ISL title this season. They have made shrewd signings and would hope that the lack of their strong home support will not be a factor in their performances.

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