Bengaluru v Northeast United: Preview and Prediction
Bengaluru has been in tumultuous form this season and recently sacked their Durand Cup-winning manager Simon Grayson following a 0-4 thrashing at the hands of Mumbai City
With new gaffer Gerard Zaragoza in charge now, they started his reign with a home win against Jamshedpur. The result took the Blues to 10 points from 11 games, and up to 8th position on the League table.
Northeast United, on the other hand, had a decent start to the season but has been misfiring lately. Despite having a good game at home, they are coming off a 1-3 loss against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in their last fixture.
Both teams have had problems up top, but for Bengaluru it is ever more prominent given their stellar goalscoring record in the ISL. Before the Jamshedpur fixture, the Blues had won only 4 points in their last 5 games this season.
December has been a month of horror for the Islanders so far, who started it with a 0-5 thrashing at the hands of East Bengal. They last won a league game in October,as Parthib Gogoi’s injury makes it all the more tougher for the away side.
Head to Head Record
In the reverse fixture played last month, both sides settled for a draw in Guwahati with Chhetri and Jovanovic’s own goal. Historically, NorthEast United and Bengaluru have faced each other in 15 matches in the ISL. Out of these 15 games,NorthEast United have won twice whereas Bengaluru have come out victorious on 8 occasions. 5 matches have ended with a draw.
In the last clash between these two sides, Northeast United came from behind to secure a draw at home. It was Sunil Chhetri who had given the visitors the lead from a spot kick, but Jovanovic’s own goal in the added time of the first half set the scores level.
The Highlanders did come across a superb chance to get the lead again, courtesy of Parthib Gogoi in the 81st minute. However, the 20-year-old took a heavy touch inside the box and goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu was prompt enough to dive, outstretch, and collect the ball before Gogoi could unleash a shot into the goal.
Javi Hernandez was the architect who brought an end to Bengaluru’s miserable run of form against Jamshedpur and there is little doubt that manager Gerard will count on him again to deliver the goods. In the middle, Suresh Singh started a little sloppy and Harsh Patre, the substitute, displayed more command when he came on so it could be the latter who gets the nod.
Parthib Gogoi’s absence continues to be a thorn in the side for the Highlanders. Mirshad Michu’s errors directly led to 2 goals in their last clash against the Mariners, so it remains to be seen if manager Juan Benali persists with him or chooses to go with Dipesh instead.
With no sides facing any major injury crisis apart from Parthib’s prolonged absence, it will come down to who performs better in training for the manager to pick their XIs.
Predicted Starting XIs
Bengaluru(4-2-3-1): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Namgyal Bhutia, Aleksander Jovanovic, Slavko Damjanovic, Naorem Roshan Singh; Keziah Veendorp, Harsh Patre, Javi Hernandez; Halicharan Narzary, Sunil Chhetri, Rohit Danu.
Northeast United(4-2-3-1): Dipesh, Dinesh Singh, Yaser Hamed, Miguel Zobaco, Tondonba Singh, Ali Bemammer, Phalguni Singh, Macarton Louis Nickson, Gani Nigam, Manvir Singh, Thoi Singh
All said and done, we predict a 2-0 Bengaluru win that will close off the year for the Blues. Given their lack of cutting edge all over the park, one finds it hard to see how the Highlanders will be able to mount a challenge to the rejuvenated home side.