The first round of the reverse fixtures will witness Northeast United take on the Blues of Bengaluru in the matchday 56 of the Hero ISL 2020-21 at the Tilak Maidan.
Blast from the past :
The Blues hosted the Highlanders at the Fatorda in early December of 2020. The match ended on 2-2 with Juanan & Udanta Singh scoring one each for Bengaluru and Luis Machado scored a brace to get his side an important point.
Northeast United FC:
Things have completely changed for Northeast as they find themselves in the bottom half of the table despite starting their campaign with an impressive attitude. The side from Guwahati are winless in their last 6 outings having lost 3 out of the last 4 games and are on a downward slide. The Highlanders’ defense is getting vulnerable with each passing match and doesn’t look the same as they were at the beginning of the season.
They conceded just 5 goals in their first 5 outings but have conceded 8 goals in their last 5 games having conceded a total of 13 goals in 10 matches. Kwesi Appiah’s injury has played a major role in the their downward slide but there’s no confirmation on when the Ghanaian will be ready and his striker partner Idrissa Sylla has not been able to deliver.
“First of all, we know that Bengaluru has lost four games in four but every game is new and we have to respect them. I’m sure that the players will give their best tomorrow. Whatever the outcome, we know our duty. We have to forget the last match, focus on the next match, and put in 100 percent to win. We have a simple approach. If we lose the ball, we try to win it back. If we have the ball, we have to create chances and score,” said assistant coach Alison Kharsyntiew at the pre-match press conference.
Bengaluru FC too find themselves in the bottom half of the table, a rare sight indeed. The Blues are not in the best of their form either and are on a 4 match losing streak having lost to SC East Bengal in their last outing. The blues are known for their resilient backline but this season they have already conceded the number of goals that they did in the group stages last season (13) and things have only got worse when it comes to their attacking unit as they have just scored once in their last four matches and a total of 12 goals in 10 matches. The Sunil Chhetri-led side is a threat when it comes to set pieces and they will surely be motivated to take full advantage of their strength.
The former champions have already parted ways with their spanish boss Carles Cuadrat and provisional head coach Naushad Moosa has taken over and here’s what he had to say ahead of his side’s clash against Northeast, “It has been a difficult time for everyone. For the players and everyone involved with the club. It has not been easy. We need to overcome this form and we are working on it. The players are motivated, and I am expecting them to do better against NorthEast United. They [NorthEast] aren’t a bad team at all, and their position on the table is not a reflection of their performances. They have the ability to fight back and we cannot take them lightly.”
Both sides started their campaign brightly but things have changed and they find themselves in a bad position. Tonight’s tie will be an opportunity for both sides to turnaround their fortunes.
Battles to watch out for:
Federico Gallego vs Dimas Delgado:
The Uruguayan has been a key playmaker for Gerard Nus’ side. Gallego scored his first goal of the season in their last match and will have a major role to play to create chances for his side.
Dimas on the other hand has a similar role to play for the Blues. The Spanish playmaker always has a significant role to play when it comes to set-pieces.
Cleiton Silva vs Benjamin Lambot
The Brazilian forward is a known Goal machine and has loads of experience under his belt. Silva is the second-highest goalscorer for the blues having scored thrice. His performance on the wings has been top-notch irrespective of their performance and he surely has a major role to play in tonight’s game.
The Belgian on the other hand is the only man from Northeast’s camp to play every minute of football this season. He has been very clinical when it comes to defending and will need to be at his best against Bengaluru.
Possible Starting XI:
Northeast United FC: Subhasish, Ashutosh, Fox, Lambot, Gurjinder, Lalengmawia, Camara, Gallego, Ninthoi, Suhair, Machado
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet, Juanan, Khabra, Rahul, Ajith, Erik, Dimas, Udanta, Suresh, Chhetri, Silva