The Spaniard has been Bengaluru’s most consistent player this season. Following Bengaluru FC’s goalless stalemate against Chennaiyin FC on Sunday, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu became the first goalkeeper in the Indian Super League (ISL) to maintain 10 clean-sheets in the league phase of a single season.
That the Blues have conceded just nine goals in 16 matches is phenomenal and has more than made up for their difficulties at the opposite end of the pitch. Head coach Carles Cuadrat has experimented heavily all over the park and the back-four was not spared either. But two things have always been constant, Gurpreet between the sticks and Juanan Gonzalez in the abandoned centre-back position, proving to be a huge barrier for the rival forwards.
That Hugo Boumous, Amine Chermiti, and Ferran Corominas are the only three players in the top 10 goalscorers this season to have scored against Bengaluru says a lot about the Spaniard’s consistency, composure and ability to step up at the big occasions.
Corominas had a penalty to break his long-standing goal drought against Bengaluru. Juanan has always been his countryman’s kryptonite, and the dynamics didn’t change throughout the 180 plus moments he featured in against the Blues this season.
Seven goals in his last four matches and an entire stadium chanting his name, Valskis arrived at the Southern Derby in enormous momentum. But Juanan ensured his participation in the fixture was minimal.
Bengaluru’s defence as a unit deserves praise for the commendable album but the Spaniard has burst out, and by some distance.
The fact that he is a great reader of the game and situations makes Juanan a challenging defender to shake off. He is not the fastest on the pitch and it was most obvious when he was up against Krishna. However, astute positioning constitutes this more often than not.
The best aspect of this Spaniard’s game is that he hardly puts a toe out of line and leaves no margin for a mistake that could cause a goal.
Defensive excellence aside, Juanan’s passing range has also helped Bengaluru break lines so on the counter. A lurking goal-threat during set-pieces is yet another arrow in his quiver. His lone goal against Odisha that fetched his side two points could prove vital in the conclusion of the league phase, particularly with Bengaluru suffering an inferior head-to-head record against Mumbai City FC.
But they could still salvage an Asian spot from the season by winning the ISL title. Despite playing below their standards for the majority of the season, the defending champions are still a force to be reckoned with, thanks to their water-tight defence.
The 32-year-old is suspended from Bengaluru’s next ISL match against Kerala Blasters. However, they will require him to do what he does best for the rest of the season. If they defend the title, Juanan would make more than a fair case for being the main reason behind it.