Goa vs Bengaluru: Preview and Prediction
After a horrendous campaign last season, Goa will be satisfied with how their transformation has worked out so far. They have won four of their first six matches, and with 12 points to their name, the Gaurs are occupying third place in the standings.
Bengaluru, on the other hand, is at the very opposite end of the spectrum. While winning the 2022 Durand Cup made it seem that the Blues will be a title contender, they are now fighting to merely avoid the last position. With just one victory and four points to their name, they are placed tenth in the standings.
Goa started their season as they meant to go on – with a hard-fought yet deserving 2-1 victory over East Bengal. The performance in the second match was even better, as they handed Chennaiyin a 2-0 defeat. However, their winning run halted in their third game, where defending champions Hyderabad got the better of them.
Carlos Pena’s men bounced back brilliantly as they handed Jamshedpur a 3-0 thrashing in their fourth game, but lost momentum once again as they lost the subsequent fixture 1-3 against Kerala Blasters. Having said that, the Gaurs have successfully made another comeback as they defeated ATK Mohun Bagan 3-0 in their last game.
Bengaluru did not have a poor start to their campaign, as they managed to beat NorthEast United 1-0 in their first match and then restricted Chennaiyin to a 1-1 stalemate in their second fixture. However, everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong for Simon Grayson’s team ever since.
The next three matches saw the Blues succumbing to consecutive 0-1 defeats – against Hyderabad, Odisha and East Bengal. Things went even worse in their last match, as Mumbai City gave them a 4-0 thrashing.
Head to Head Record
The head-to-head records are inclined in Bengaluru’s favour. Of the 11 matches played between these two teams, the Blues have won five fixtures, while the Gaurs emerged victorious on three occasions. The other three matches ended in stalemates.
One of those draws was played in the last meeting back in February. Former Northern Irish defender Dylan Fox scored the opener for Goa, but a Sunil Chhetri strike helped the Blues clinch a point from the fixture.
Though Goa might have beaten a formidable ATK Mohun Bagan side in their last match, there are still a few weaknesses Pena might want to address. One of those is Alvaro Vazquez as the Spanish striker has not been able to give his best for the Gaurs and Noah Sadaoui could be handed a start in this game in his place.
Besides that, we could expect two more changes in Goa’s starting XI. After an unimpressive outing against the Mariners, right-winger Redeem Tlang could be replaced by Makan Chothe, while Fares Arnaout could replace Marc Valiente.
After four defeats on the trot, Grayson would certainly want to make changes to his system. Centre-back Sandesh Jhingan had an outing to forget against Mumbai City, and in his place, Aleksander Jovanovic could make a comeback.
However, Grayson will then need to sacrifice an overseas player to maintain the foreigners’ count to four. Javi Hernandez could be replaced by Chhetri, while after returning from injury, Sivasakthi Narayanan could replace Danish Farooq.
Goa (4-2-3-1): Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem; Seriton Fernandes, Fares Arnaout, Anwar Ali, Aibanbha Dohling; Ayush Dev Chhetri, Edu Bedia; Makan Chothe, Iker Guarrotxena, Brandon Fernandes; Noah Sadaoui.
Bengaluru (4-2-3-1): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Namgyal Bhutia, Aleksander Jovanovic, Alan Costa, Roshan Naorem; Bruno Ramires, Suresh Singh; Sivasakthi Narayanan, Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh; Roy Krishna.
While the Blues are ahead on head-to-head statistics, there is a start disparity between the two teams when it comes to the current form. Hence, we have predicted Goa to secure all three points from this fixture.