Well, the first legs are over and we are down to crunch time in the ISL playoff semi-finals. Bengaluru and Pune will be the first teams to play in the second leg and we are all hoping that it is much better than their first leg tie. I called it, though, in my preview piece. I said it wasn’t going to be the best game as both teams were going to be cautious about the other and surprise, surprise that’s exactly what happened. Anyway, enough about me being right and the first leg being boring, let’s get straight to the second leg and how exciting it will be.
I will try to keep this section as brief as possible, mainly because I only reported on it a few days ago and both teams have only played once, obviously. Anyway, Bengaluru finished top of the league and were favourites for the title. However, this may have changed since their 0-0 draw with Pune in the first leg. With the 0-0 draw, both their goals scored and goals conceded records stayed the same, scoring thirty-five goals and conceding sixteen goals. Bengaluru kept their unbeaten streak alive with the win, extending it to thirteen games unbeaten which is a very impressive record and they won’t want to throw that away.
Pune, who finished 4th in the league, entered the playoffs as the underdogs. However, they have the upper hand after holding Bengaluru to the 0-0 draw. Obviously, with the 0-0 draw, their goalscoring and defensive record stay the same, with them scoring thirty goals and conceding twenty-one goals. With the draw, their record hasn’t improved massively, however, with the away goals rule all they need is a goal and Bengaluru need two to go through.
Last time out I gave their two league meetings this season a look-over and gave them the semi-finals makeover. In the end, the aggregate score going in favour of Bengaluru, 4-2.
Now, their first leg ended in a boring, 0-0 draw. I did say in my previous preview that the teams would be cautious of each other and the teams wouldn’t go for the kill early on. The game was seriously boring and we are all hoping this time around it’s a much more entertaining matchup.
If they were to achieve the aggregate score from the league games this season, then we would need a massive goal-fest, a 4-2 goal-fest to be precise. Unfortunately, I can’t see this happening, even though I do want it to happen.
The Game Itself…
We are all hoping for a better game this time around. I’m not going to sit here and say their last game was a brilliant game because it wasn’t. However, I will say, this time around, the game will be much better.
The one thing we don’t want is Pune scoring first. If this happens, then the game will die out and Pune will just sit back and defend their away goal lead, hoping that Bengaluru don’t score twice.
In terms of the pace of the game, I feel Bengaluru will still dictate the pace of the game and will have the better chances in the game. However, Pune only need to take one of those chances and they go from underdogs to favourites.
Now this hard choice becomes harder. Looking at what Pune could do, one of their defensive players could become their key player. However, I am struggling to see past Bengaluru’s attacking threat. Miku can always pop up with a goal and I am sure he will in the game, with Chhetri up top with him, it’s hard to argue against either of them being a key player within the game.
However, my choice comes from Pune’s attacking threat. My choice is Marcelinho. He is going to be the key to Pune’s progression. They need him to step up and get that all-important away goal, whether that’s him scoring it or setting up one of his teammates. If he doesn’t perform well, I cannot see Pune getting past Bengaluru.
With all this being said, I will simply leave you with this. I don’t think Pune will have enough to overthrow Bengaluru. I think it will be a 2-1 win for Bengaluru with Miku getting two and Alfaro getting Pune’s goal. However, like I always say, never take my predictions seriously.