Bengaluru vs NorthEast United: Preview and Prediction￼
It’s been a journey of highs and lows for Bengaluru during their five seasons in the Indian Super League so far. Since their entry into the league during the ISL 2017-18 edition, the Blues consistently qualified for the semi-finals in their first three seasons.
BFC topped the league and ended as finalists in their debut Hero ISL season, and then claimed their first Hero ISL crown the following season. The Blues were also a force to be reckoned with during the 2019-20 edition, finishing as semi-finalists.
However, the last two seasons since then have turned out to be underwhelming for the Blues. Bengaluru has not managed to secure a semi-final spot, finishing seventh and sixth on two occasions during this time. Now, with a new manager at the helm in Simon Grayson and with a revamped squad stacked with big names, the Blues will be aiming to bring back the glory days.
NorthEast United will be looking to bounce back in the upcoming 2022-23 ISL campaign after finishing tenth last season, securing just three wins during the entire campaign.
The Highlanders have not been the most consistent side in ISL history with just two appearances in the play-off stages of the league since its inception in 2014. However, the Guwahati-based side has come close on numerous occasions making it to the semi-finals, eventually missing out by narrow margins.
A chance to play in front of home fans again will boost NorthEast United’s chances of having a much better season this time around as they aim to secure a top-six spot under new head coach Marco Balbul. The Highlanders have revamped their squad, especially their foreign contingent ahead of the new season and are looking for a fresh start.
Bengaluru won their first-ever Durand Cup, overcoming Mumbai City by the odd goal in an exciting final of the 131st edition of the tournament. For the Blues, Siva Sakthi and Brazilian Alan Costa scored the goals while Apuia bagged the lone goal for MCFC in what was a fine display of end-to-end football.
The side hailing from NorthEast also participated in the prestigious Durand Cup tourney wherein they won just one out of four games to finish fourth in Group D. They however also played four friendlies before the start of the league season in which they drew one and won three.
Bengaluru vs NorthEast United’s head-to-head record shows that of the 12 meetings they’ve had, Bengaluru has won 6 times and NorthEast United has won 2 times. 4 fixtures between Bengaluru and NorthEast United have ended in a draw.
The last meeting between these two teams ended in a 2-1 triumph for the Highlanders. Deshorn Brown and Laldanmawia Ralte were the two goal scorers for the team from North East in that game whilst Cleiton Silva was the lone goalscorer for the team from South.
The Blues overall have a young squad along with some notable names who bring plenty of experience. Starting from the back, the Blues have completely overhauled their backline bringing in dynamic full-back Hira Mondal alongside some experienced names in Prabir Das, Sandesh Jhingan and Aleksandar Jovanovic.
Furthermore, the addition of Javi Hernandez will offer creativity and spark to their midfield. The Blues have also secured the services of Roy Krishna, the fourth all-time leading ISL goal scorer and the Fijian’s partnership alongside Sunil Chhetri will be one to watch out for.
NorthEast United will go into the new season with a fairly young squad with just six players above the age of 30. Four of those are foreign players which means the onus will be on them to lead the side which is full of potential but there’s a challenge with the inexperience as well.
The squad has a good balance in terms of numbers across the defensive and attacking areas with Balbul having a good variety of Indian and foreign players to choose from in attack. In defence, the Highlanders will largely rely on Indian talent with just one foreign defender in their ranks in the shape of Michael Jakobsen.
Bengaluru (4-1-2-1-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Prabir Das, Sandesh Jhingan, Alan Costa, Roshan Naorem Singh; Bruno Ramires; Suresh Wangjam, Danish Farooq; Javi Hernandez; Roy Krishna, Sunil Chettri
NorthEast United (4-1-2-3): Arindam Bhattacharya; Provat Lakra, Aaron Evans, Gaurav Bora, Gurjinder Kumar; Jon Gaztanaga; Romain Philippoteaux, Emil Benny; Rochharzela, Matt Derbyshire, Jithin Madathil Subran
Bengaluru won two of their last three Indian Super League games to finish last season and they will hope for another consistent run as they get this new campaign underway. They lost just three of their last 14 matches so will believe a tilt at the title is possible but they will want to get off to a good start as they host NorthEast United. The visitors endured a wretched campaign and managed to win just one of their last 13 so the home side is fancied to get off to a winning start here.