Road to the Final: Bengaluru FC display consistency and composure
Bengaluru FC entered their second Final over two months after trumping Mohun Bagan 4-2 on Tuesday, to set up the inaugural Hero Super Cup title clash with old foes East Bengal. Bengaluru hold the distinction of winning silverware in every season since their inception and will target the same on Friday, after losing out on being termed the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 champions. The Blues have so far lived up to their billing of being favourites, owing to their impressive victories in the past few weeks. Here we take a glance at their journey through the competition and their chances ahead.
Udanta’s late winner sinks Gokulam Kerala FC
Bengaluru had a shaky start to their Hero Super Cup campaign, as they had to dig deep to get past a sturdy Gokulam side in the pre-quarter finals. The Blues surprisingly went down to the Hero I-League side in the first half, before managing to turn things around. Miku’s equaliser brought them back into the game, before Udanta Singh’s injury-time winner sealed their berth in the quarter-finals.
Chhetri’s brilliance downs NEROCA FC
The next challenge for the Hero ISL finalists were the young NEROCA brigade, where they displayed their class and domination to comfortably run out as winners. While Bengaluru’s teamwork is one of the best around, this victory over the Manipur-based side was largely down to the individual brilliance of Sunil Chhetri. The Blues captain scored a stunning hat-trick to single-handedly lead his team to the semi-finals.
10-men Bengaluru dominate Mohun Bagan
The semi-final clash between Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru was a game of two halves. The Mariners went into the break with a slender 1-0 advantage, with things not looking too good for Bengaluru after a straight red card shown to Nishu Kumar, minutes into the second half. However, a tactical switch from Albert Roca and a splendid second-half hat-trick from Miku coupled with Chhetri’s wonder-strike gave Bengaluru an incredible victory.
- With the likes of Chhetri and Miku upfront, Bengaluru are arguably the most efficient attacking side in the country. Their ability to carve open defences with their slick passing and hard running are the primary reasons for their rise to the top. The Blues have scored a total of nine goals so far, the most by any side in the tournament.
- While Bengaluru do have one of the best units in the tournament, their ability to turn things around during times of trial is what separates them from the rest. Roca’s men have shown immense grit, determination and composure to come back from difficult situations and clinch victories.
- Though the partnership of Chhetri and Miku is Bengaluru’s biggest asset, they need to be a little worried about their over-reliance on the pair. Of the nine goals they have scored in the competition, these two players have scored eight amongst them. Hence, if they fail to perform, the Blues may find themselves in the soup.
Sunil Chhetri: Captain fantastic, Sunil Chhetri has carried his form over from the Hero ISL and has had a tournament to remember. The Indian legend has led his side from the front, coming up with vital performances at crucial junctures to see the team through, and will be on top of the opposition’s hitlist.
Miku: After a brilliant debut Hero ISL season, the Venezuelan continued from where he left in the league, amassing a total of four goals in two games. His clinical finishing, hold-up play and creativity will be a cause of concern for the opponents. His height is also a plus, which along with his physicality makes him a potent force.
Udanta Singh: The swift winger has enjoyed his finest season so far with Bengaluru. His electric pace and precise crossing ability have been a constant threat to opposition defences, and he will look to bank on this quality of his to ensure the lethal striker duo is supplied with enough chances upfront.