It’s time for a battle of two teams who have not had a perfect start to the season but with one team slightly better than the other. If you think that sounds like something you’ve heard before then you’d be correct. Those are the exact same two lines that I used to open my preview of the Kerala Blasters v Delhi Dynamos game.
“Why would you do that?” you may ask. Well, dear reader, that is because today’s two opponents, Pune City and Bengaluru, have the exact same start as Kerala and Delhi had. Bengaluru have taken on the role that Kerala had by having the slightly better form, while Pune are doing their best Delhi impression.
A look at the story so far
Let’s start with the away side, Bengaluru. They managed to grab a win in their season opener against Chennaiyin thanks to their Spanish speaking duo of Venezuelan Miku Fedor who netted thanks to an assist from Spaniard Xisco Hernández.
Bengaluru’s second game of the season was not one for the faint heart with Jamshedpur proving a tough opponent. Nishu Kumar gave Bengaluru the lead on the stroke of halftime. Then all was quiet. Until ten minutes remained. Then all hell broke loose. First Gourav Mukhi equalized for Jamshedpur, and then Indian talisman and all-round legend, Sunil Chhetri gave Bengaluru the lead back with just two minutes remaining. But fate wanted Jamshedpur to get a point in this one as Sergio Cidoncha brought the away side level a final time in the 90th minute.
Heart-stopping action was also what Pune City got in their season-opener against Delhi Dynamos. But for Pune, it was them who gave Delhi a blow similar to what Jamshedpur gave today’s opponent when Diego equalised for Pune in the 88th minute.
Then came their last outing, against Mumbai City, and boy that did not go too well. Modou Sougou and Rafael Bastos gave Mumbai a 2-0 lead in the first half that Pune couldn’t pull back.
Another case of schedule differences
Yet again the scheduling gods of the ISL have pitted teams with very different schedules up against each other. Pune played Mumbai on Friday while Bengaluru have not played a game for 15 days.
Now that didn’t prove a decider in the Kerala v Delhi match (more on that later today), but as I said in that preview, it’s not ideal for either team. One has played quite recently and might be tired while the other could be rusty due to not having played at all.
Tactics-wise it might be the case that a 4-2-3-1 will be the preferred formation for both sides, but it could be that Miguel Ángel Portugal or Carles Cuadrat would try to spring a surprise on their compatriot in the other dugout.