Bengaluru vs Kerala Blasters: Preview and Prediction
The fierce neighborhood rivalry is set to return for its second clash of the 2022-23 Indian Super League season as the powerhouses will be up against each other to establish supremacy for the Southern region.
The spirited visitors Kerala Blasters have a tough challenge lining up to trample down the triumphant run of an in-form Bengaluru side on their own turf. Sree Kanteerava Stadium of Karnataka state capital will be the venue of this high-profile contest between two Top-6 combatants this stunning Saturday.
The Karnataka-based outfit which was roaming out of the Top 6 after suffering from a poor form has pressed a reboot button and is currently storming victoriously all of a sudden. They have scored the most number of points in the previous five ISL matchdays, fetching 15 out of 15 points over the period. Simon Grayson and his Blues are charged up to take this winning run furthermore after having two home games up next.
The Tuskers will be playing their second consecutive Southern Derby clash and are determined to settle down with nothing less than all three points in the pocket. Gaffer Ivan Vukonamovic is struggling to find a consistent triumphant run since the ISL 9 caravan has entered its 2023 phase. The three-time ISL runners-up are currently seated in the third position having a four-point lead over the fourth-placed Goan side.
Kerala has dropped six crucial points which could have definitely brought them closer to the Hyderabad side acquiring the second position in the points table. The Kochi-based outfit staged a thumping comeback right after suffering a disheartening away outing with East Bengal. They went on to register a statement 2-1 victory against Chennaiyin in front of a jam-packed Manjappada crowd despite the visitors taking an early lead.
On the other hand, the Blues pulled off an incredible feat of breaching the fortress of Salt Lake Stadium to keep their winning streak alive. Bengaluru has moved inches closer to the Green and Maroon side in the league standings with a convincing victory that reduced the deficit to 2 points only. Interestingly, both of the goal-scorers for Grayson’s side in a 2-1 saga were former ATK Mohun Bagan knights who also refused to celebrate against their former employer.
Just like every other Southern counterpart, Bengaluru also has a prosperous head-to-head record against the Yellow and Blues with six wins from 11 encounters. Meanwhile, the Blasters managed to outclass the neighborhood rivals at the grandest stage of ISL only on three occasions to date.
The former Blasters skipper Sandesh Jhingan will be taking the battlefield against his beloved club while the Kerala Blasters side also features the names of Harmanjot Khabra, Nishu Kumar, and Danish Farooq who once used to be a part of the Bengaluru roster.
It turned out to be a memorable high-scoring the last time these two ISL giants battled out against each other at the stage of the Indian top-flight league. The home team Kerala Blasters gave a befitting counter-attack to the visitors’ opening goal through penalty and went on to net three goals inside 70 minutes. The Blues managed to reduce the goal deficit with a 14th-minute strike of Javi Hernandez but failed to find the equalizer to finish the game on the losing side of a 3-2 scoreline.
However, Kerala’s most recent visit to Sree Kanteerava Stadium for an ISL fixture could not turn out to be good as they lost the tie at a final scoreline of 1-0. The only goal of the game came through the strike of the Bengaluru first-choice captain Sunil Chhetri who still dons the blue kits of the Karnataka capital side. It was a frustrating night for the Tuskers who outscored their opponents in ball possession and passes but failed to attempt even a single shot on target.
After a series of experiments with the lineup, Simon Grayson has finally found a perfect combination that has been playing an instrumental role in their recent prowess. However, the Scottish gaffer may make a few changes in the starting XI as rotations to keep his prominent players fresh ahead of forthcoming challenges. Meanwhile, many of the Bengaluru bench-warmers like Pablo Perez are still waiting for their turn to feature in the team photo before kick-off.
Kerala Blasters are also unlikely to consider any changes in the starting XI in order to retain their winning momentum for a tough away fixture. Head coach Ivan Vukonamovic has kept his faith in the 4-2-3-1 formation and the playstyle is finally paying off beautifully for them. The Greek-Australian forward Apostolos Giannou was not included in the matchday squad of the Chennaiyin fixture due to viral fever and is expected to recover for this game.
Predicted Starting XIs
Bengaluru (3-5-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Alan Costa, Sandesh Jhingan, Parag Shrivas; Prabir Das, Suresh Wangjam, Rohit Kumar, Naorem Roshan Singh; Sivashakthi Narayanan, Roy Krishna
Kerala Blasters (4-4-2): Prabhsukhan Singh Gill; Jessel Carneiro, Victor Mongil, Hormipam Ruivah, Nishu Kumar; Jeakson Singh, Ivan Kalyuzhnyi; Sahal Abdul Samad, Adrian Luna, Rahul KP; Dimitrios Diamantakos
The stage always sets on fire whenever these two combatants share the same battlefield and we can expect another intense contest between them. It is quite evident that Bengaluru will be turning up for this encounter as favorites after having aspects like the head-to-head record, current form and home conditions in their favor.
Hence it is going to be a challenging night at Sree Kanteerava Stadium for the visitors who also don’t have a good away record on their back.