Chennaiyin vs Bengaluru: Preview and Prediction
This match will be crucial for both teams, as they have had poor starts to their campaigns and are currently not among the top six. With just two wins in nine matches and 9 points, Chennaiyin is struggling in the 8th position.
Bengaluru’s case is even worse, as last season’s finalists have been a mere shadow of their past selves. They have won only one of their nine matches and have only 7 points in their account. Placed in the 9th position, the Blues recently parted ways with their Durand Cup-winning manager, Simon Grayson.
Chennaiyin had a disastrous start to their season, as they lost all of their first three matches. Owen Coyle’s team was handed a 0-2 defeat by Odisha before they lost 0-3 against NorthEast United and 1-3 against Mohun Bagan Super Giant.
They revived their season somewhat with two back-to-back defeats, beating Hyderabad 1-0 and Punjab 5-1. But the Marina Machans could not sustain the momentum and ended up getting derailed again, losing 0-3 to Goa.
That said, they have been unbeaten ever since. Chennaiyin will be coming into this game on the back of three consecutive draws – 1-1 against East Bengal, 3-3 against Kerala Blasters and 2-2 against Jamshedpur.
Bengaluru’s start was similar as they lost their first two matches, going down 1-2 against Kerala Blasters and 0-1 against Mohun Bagan Super Giant. A 2-1 win over East Bengal and a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Goa got their season back on track, but they could not capitalize on the decent run of form either.
In their fifth match, the Blues were handed a 2-3 defeat by Odisha, after which they played out three consecutive draws – 1-1 against Hyderabad, 1-1 against NorthEast United and 3-3 against Punjab. They will come into this match on the back of a 0-4 humiliation against Mumbai City.
Head to Head Record
There is no competition between these two teams when it comes to head-to-head records, as Bengaluru enjoys a clear advantage. Of the 13 meetings between the teams from South India, the Blues won 7 matches, while Chennaiyin won only 3 matches. The other three games ended in draws.
The last meeting, which took place in January earlier this year, saw Bengaluru handing Chennaiyin a 3-1 defeat. Sivasakthi Narayanan’s brace and Rohit Kumar’s strike comprised the Blues’ three goals, while for the Marina Machans, Edwin Sydney Vanspaul was the only goal-scorer.
Coyle’s plan of going defense-heavy with two foreign central defenders against Jamshedpur backfired, as they still ended up conceding two goals. With Bengaluru’s attackers not looking threatening at all, the Scottish tactician could choose to leave out one of those defenders and strengthen his midfield instead.
In this move, Serbian central defender Lazar Cirkovic could be replaced by Sarthak Golui, whereas in midfield, Ayush Adhikari could be asked to make way for Cristian Battocchio. Moreover, Jordan Murray has had a season to forget so far and he might have to make way for the Scotsman who has already bagged three goals, Connor Shields.
In his first match as the interim coach of Bengaluru, Renedy Singh is also expected to make plenty of changes to the team which lost 0-4 against Mumbai City. Firstly in defense, youngster Robin Yadav did not look quite comfortable and he could be replaced by Shivaldo Singh.
The Blues looked flat-footed in both midfield and attack, and Renedy could make radical changes. English striker Curtis Main could be dropped to the bench after hardly making any impact so far, with Sunil Chhetri playing up front and Monirul Molla deployed on the flank. This will free up an overseas slot, which Renedy could use to replace a struggling Harsh Patre with Dutch midfielder Keziah Veendorp.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chennaiyin (4-2-3-1): Debjit Majumder; Bikash Yumnam, Ryan Edwards, Sarthak Golui, Ankit Mukherjee; Cristian Battocchio, Jiteshwor Singh; Ninthoinganba Meetei, Rafael Crivellaro, Farukh Choudhary; Connor Shields.
Bengaluru (4-4-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Shivaldo Singh, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Slavko Damjanovic, Roshan Naorem Singh; Javi Hernandez, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Keziah Veendorp; Sivasakthi Narayanan, Sunil Chhetri, Monirul Molla.
Although there is hardly anything to separate the two teams, given that they both have been poor so far, the new manager bounce can work in Bengaluru’s favour with the players looking to impress Renedy. Hence, the Blues will start this match as the favorites.