Bengaluru FC managed to put some daylight between them and the rest of the ISL last night, beating FC Pune City 3-1.
Here are the main talking points.
#1 Popovic’s Plan A would have worked
Ranko Popovic surprised a few people by not starting Marcelinho and his midfield three of Jonatan Lucca, Adil Khan and Marcos Tebar kept Bengaluru away from the FC Pune City defence. Miku was isolated, Chhetri was unable to get in the game and Pune looked like they would close out their 1-0 lead comfortably.
#2 His lack of Plan B did not
When FC Pune City’s left-back Baljit Sahni was sent off, the dynamic changed completely. Where Popovic’s Plan A was being executed brilliantly, his lack of a Plan B for the 10 men scenario was exposed clinically by Bengaluru FC. The ISL leaders found more time and space to play their game and took full advantage of the extra man.
#3 Sunil Chhetri is special
If you get a chance, watch his injury-time third. It was a lovely finish and probably the most skilful thing an Indian player has done so far in this season’s ISL. He leads Bengaluru by example.
#4 Popovic would be better blaming officials for the defeat than individual players
You can see by his performances on the sideline what a passionate man the Serbian coach is, but I think he made an error turning on individual players in the post-match press conference. Rather than blame the referee for the red-card, which it was to be fair but that has never stopped a manager complaining in the past, he turned on Diego Carlos for missing a good chance then called out Kean Lewis for “not working hard enough for the team”. It’s a risky strategy so early in the season, especially when Popovic doesn’t have a great deal of credit in the bank as of yet with his squad.
#5 The scheduling needs to be thought out better
In such a short league, it seems crazy that one team had a full week’s extra rest over the other. Things like that do make a difference and it showed.