The story so far…
Pune went joint top of the table after their 1-0 away win at Jamshedpur last time out. Prior to that, it has been a lack of consistency which has meant they’re not clear at the top. They started with a 3-2 home against Delhi Dynamos, then won two, lost one, before facing Jamshedpur last week.
Bengaluru have taken to the ISL like a duck to water after transitioning from the I-League and sit pretty at the top of the table by virtue of a superior goal difference. They’ve played a game less than their opponents having won three and lost only the one, against FC Goa, so far.
The press conferences…
Pune gaffer Ranko Popovic isn’t overly concerned with their poor home form which has seen them lose two out of three so far.
“We play well and this is my opinion. I want to play the same everywhere. I want my team to show desire.”
However, he does know that Bengaluru are not to be underestimated.
“We are up against a very good team. One big test for us,”
Popovic is focussed on beating Bengaluru and not much else which was evident when he said:
“For me, the only important thing is to think about how to make a win possible against Bengaluru.”
He rounded things up by saying this to end the press conference:
“I think Bengaluru at this moment have an advantage over all of us – because they started early and they have had more matches and competitions during pre-season. I don’t want to say they are favourites for the game”
Popovic is a tough man to judge as he knows Bengaluru have the advantage, yet they are not favourites? Poker face at large.
In the other dugout is Albert Roca and he is well aware of the task that Popovic’s men will present.
“I expect a tough game. Pune have shown they are more or less on the same level. They have the same points. So it is going to be difficult. They have enough experience in their players and the coach to put us in trouble”
Despite this, Roca is quietly confident his team can take advantage of Pune’s poor form at home.
“They have not started so well here. At the end of the season, they will get more points. But I hope tomorrow is not going to be the start of this change.”
He concluded his conference by touching on the fact that other coaches have said they are favourites for the league title.
“I don’t mind what the others consider. What I want is to go ahead and try to not make a lot of errors, try to improve.”
So as you can see, Roca is not bothered in the slightest about his peers as he is only bothered what his side can do as they go in hunt for the title in what is their debut ISL season.
The game itself…
It should be a game filled with goals and plenty of action as both teams have had games with 5+ goals on more than one occasion this season, which is of course, still in its infancy.
If Bengaluru get the win, they’ll go three points clear with a game in hand over Pune, however, if the three points go to the home side, it’ll put Pune three points clear, although Bengaluru will have a game in hand.
Ones to watch…
Emiliano Alfaro – The Pune forward has netted four times in five games this season and will be looking to add to his tally against Bengaluru. Interestingly, all of his four goals came in a week, so he’ll be hoping to start another hot streak.
Nicolas Fedor – The ex-Rayo Vallecano man is averaging a goal a game this season as his Bengaluru career has got off to the best possible start. Interestingly, he has already doubled his league total for the whole of last season.
One more thing…
All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing over 3.5 goals @ 13/8.