Last time out…
After two defeats on the bounce at home, Bengaluru got back to winning ways when as the saw of Rene Meuleensteen’s Kerala Blasters by three goals to one. It proved to be the last game for Meuleensteen who was relieved of his duties after the drubbing at the hands of Albert Roca’s side. The only surprise from the game was that Bengaluru only managed to score three as they had six shots on target in the first half alone as Chowdhury played a blinder in the Blasters goal. After the break, Chhetri put the BengaBoys 1-0 up from the spot and then it all sort of went downhill from there. In the 73rd minute, Chowdhury picked up an injury which forced Rachubka onto the pitch who is either really, really good or not. He went for the latter this time as Miku scored two goals in two minutes to put the game to bed; Pekuson got a consolation in stoppage time, but that was as good as it got for Kerala.
ATK faced FC Goa in Kolkata only a few days ago and played out what was an exciting draw. The home side took the lead early on as the well-travelled Robbie Keane made it two in two with only four minutes on the clock, the goal being assisted by English utility player Ryan Taylor, who is proving his worth in every game for Sheringham’s side. Goa have a talisman of their own in Coro and he made sure that he pulled clear of Miku in the goalscoring charts when he levelled proceedings for Goa midway through the first half. The second half was all about the performance of ex-Mohun Bagan keeper Debjit Majumder who managed to keep out the barrage of attacks which came from Coro & co, stopping seven shots on target. Looking at the balance of the game, FC Goa will be disappointed that they only came away from Kolkata with a point, but, no one could have predicted the performance of the ATK keeper.
Roca began his press conference by saying he was happy with how the year ended but was still hurting after those two home defeats:
“I’m happy with the way we ended 2017 but we have to be alert. It’s a difficult season ahead and the team needs to make sure we stay focused. We wanted to win those two games at home, but we lost them in the last few minutes each time. It’s something for me to learn and also for the team.”
He praised the form of striker Miku when he said:
“Miku is a top player and someone who has a lot of quality. He’s played in La Liga for a long time and his level is right up there.”
The Spaniard knows that three points are all that matters deep down:
“The important thing is to win. The game in Goa was crazy. The result didn’t go our way and that’s what matters.”
He finished by saying that if he can accompany three points with good football, he’ll be happy:
“My vision is to be able to achieve a good level of football from now, and until the end of the season. Winning is good for confidence, but winning while playing good football, that’s the best.”
Nothing from the ATK camp at the time of writing, so we’ll have to improvise:
Teddy, do you think you’ll win?
The game itself…
Bengaluru are frighteningly good on the counter-attack with the three of Miku, Chhetri and Udanta good enough to strike fear into the sternest of defences and they will have to be at their best to penetrate the ATK back line as behind Jamshedpur, they do have the best defence in the division. Roca will not want to end up on the losing side for the third game in a row at home but I also doubt he will be playing for the draw, so if ATK can keep it tight and nick a goal on the break early on, it’ll make for a great game.
ATK have only managed to score one goal in each of their last three games, yet they have come away with seven points from those games. Anything other than a win doesn’t do ATK much good because as it stands at the moment before Goa play NorthEast, they’re five points off the playoff pace and the defending champions will be wanting too at least try and defend their crown. They have to be careful they don’t end up too reliant on the goals of Robbie Keane because if Bengaluru stop him, then what do they do?
Ones to watch…
Udanta Singh – It’s difficult to pick anyone out of Bengaluru’s front line, especially when they have been as good as they have going forward, but I’m opting for Udanta as I think he’s the unsung one of the front three of him, Miku and Chhetri. Miku spearheads the attack, Chhetri is India’s sweetheart and that leaves Udanta who is the whippet on the right. His direct approach tends to leave many a left back on their arse and he has the end product to match. ATK will have to keep him quiet.
Robbie Keane – It’ll be interesting in itself to see if Keane starts against Bengaluru with it being such a short time after the Goa game, but one thing is for sure, he’ll want to play every minute that his body permits him to. Two goals in his last two games tell you that he hasn’t lost his mojo when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net and if Ryan Taylor can keep his performance levels up in the centre of the park as well, then we could well have a game on our hands.
One more thing…
All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing BTTS but I can’t find a price on it so we’ll have to make do with over 2.5 @ 6/5.