Bengaluru vs East Bengal: Preview and Prediction
After a roller-coaster action of the first two matchdays, the anticipated saga of the 2023 Indian Super League is now all set to enter Matchday 3. The champions of 2018-19, Bengaluru led by skipper Sunil Chhetri will be gracing the battlefield on the opening day of the matchday on a third consecutive occasion. They will face a high-spirited East Bengal side for the ultimate showdown at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday.
The Blues who made it to the final of the 2022-23 ISL season, couldn’t carry forward the positive momentum to kick-start the tenth edition. In the absence of the legendary striker Chhetri, the Blues lost both of their opening away fixtures at the hands of Kerala Blasters and Mohun Bagan Super Giant.
However, the English gaffer Simon Grayson seems to be confident of staging a turnaround as the Karnataka-based outfit has returned to their fortress for the first time this season.
On the other hand, the Torchbearers will be turning up for their first away clash of the 2023-24 campaign after registering their maiden victory. East Bengal has not been defeated yet and will be eyeing to sustain their unbeaten run in October 2023 as well.
The Red and Gold Brigade is currently in the fifth position on the standings with 4 points from two games and another win from here will surely land them into the Top 4.
A crushing defeat in the opening fixture was followed by another losing outcome for the Blues as they were outclassed by the defending champions. The Mariners emerged victorious by 1-0 after a 67th-minute strike from Hugo Boumous as the two red cards blocked the comeback path for the visitors. BFC only had 33% of ball possession in their previous game which is not a good note for Grayson who believes in dominating the gameplay.
East Bengal enjoyed a thrilling triumph in their most recent appearance against the former ISL champions Hyderabad to claim the first three-point outcome of the season. The Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva who scored the 10th-minute equalizer once again came to the rescue for the Torchbearers and netted the winning strike in injury time. The Durand Cup final defeat against the arch-rivals MBSG is the only losing outcome from eight domestic matches over the course of the last two months for Carles Cuadrat’s men.
The Red and Gold Brigade has not been able to live up to the expectations in the Indian top-flight league but Bengaluru still remains the only ISL outfit against whom the Torchbearers are having a positive head-to-head record. These two combatants have squared off each other six times and the head-to-head record of those encounters slightly favors the East Bengal Brigade by 3-2.
East Bengal has been undefeated against the Blues since January 2022 and also registered a double over the same counterpart in the previous season. The Red and Golds prevailed on the final scoreline of 1-0 and 2-1 previously and it was the 36-year-old former Bengaluru forward Cleiton Silva who graced the scoresheet of all three goals for the Torchbearers.
Chhetri has returned from national duties at the Hangzhou Asian Games and will be forming an attacking partnership with the English striker Curtis Main. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old stalwart defender Lalchungnunga is also likely to make it to the matchday squad after returning from continental campaign with India U-23.
Grayson will have to field his Starting XI without Suresh Wangjam and Naorem Roshan as both domestic stars will be serving a one-match suspension this week. The likes of Sunil Chhetri and Shankar Sampingiraj are expected to take the place of two red-carded BFC knights.
Cuadrat is unlikely to make any changes to the winning combination after enjoying a fruitful result against Hyderabad. Cleiton Silva has cemented his place in the starting lineup after bagging a brace and will be leading the offense charge against his former club.
Predicted Starting XIs
Bengaluru (4-4-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Parag Shrivas, Slavko Damjanovic, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Jessel Carneiro; Namgyal Bhutia, Rohit Kumar, Shankar Sampingiraj, Javi Hernandez; Curtis Main, Sunil Chhetri ©
East Bengal (4-5-1): Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Nishu Kumar, Harmanjot Khabra ©, Jose Antonio Pardo, Mandar Rao Desai; Nandhakumar Sekar, Souvik Chakrabarti, Saul Crespo, Borja Herrera, Mahesh Naorem; Cleiton Silva
Despite the clash being held at BFC’s home arena, it is the visitors who are going to start this encounter as favorites. The trio of coach Carles Cuadrat, captain Harmanjot Khabra, and striker Cleiton Silva is well-acquainted with Bengaluru conditions and knows how to pull off a win at Sree Kanteerava Stadium very well.
However, the Torchbearers should not underestimate the southern opposition as skipper Chhetri and his boys have risen from such ruins on numerous occasions before.