Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru: Preview and Prediction
Matchday 10 of the 2022-23 Indian Super League season will conclude with a high-profile fixture between two South Indian rivals, Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru. The match will be played at Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday.
Kerala Blasters might not be having as spectacular a season as they had last season, but they certainly are still in contention for silverware. With five wins and 15 points to their name, the Tuskers are placed fifth in the standings.
Bengaluru, on the other hand, has had a season to forget so far. After getting their hopes high following the Durand Cup triumph, the Blues have managed only two wins from their first eight matches. With just 7 points in their account, Bengaluru is placed 9th in the league table.
Kerala Blasters had a promising start to their journey this season, as in their first match, Ivan Vukomanovic’s team handed East Bengal a 3-1 defeat. However, the Tuskers then suffered three consecutive defeats – against ATK Mohun Bagan, Odisha and Mumbai City.
That being said, Vukomanovic’s men deserve praise for turning their season around in spectacular fashion – by winning their last four matches. During this run, Kerala Blasters defeated NorthEast United, Goa, Hyderabad and Jamshedpur.
Bengaluru had a similar start as they too won their first match – by beating NorthEast United 1-0. However, it was then followed by a streak of five straight losses, where Simon Grayson’s team suffered 1-0 defeats against Chennaiyin, Hyderabad, Odisha and East Bengal, while Mumbai City handed them a 4-0 humbling.
The Blues bounced back by stopping a high-flying Goa team in their tracks with a hard-fought 2-0 victory, but once again, they could not capitalize on the momentum and ended up losing their last match against ATK Mohun Bagan 1-0.
Head to Head Record
The head-to-head records between these two teams are swayed in favour of Bengaluru. The Blues have won six of the previous ten meetings, while the Tuskers have won only two matches. The other two fixtures ended in draws.
The previous encounter, which was held back in January, resulted in a 1-0 victory for Bengaluru. After a gritty first half which did not yield any goals, full-back Roshan Naorem scored the winning goal in the 56th minute.
Given that his team defeated Jamshedpur 1-0 in the last fixture, chances are high that Vukomanovic will roll an unchanged starting XI for this fixture. However, there is room to make one tweak, should the Serbian tactician opt to fine-tune.
Left-back Nishu Kumar did not look too comfortable up against a pacy Boris Singh Thangjam. In his place, regular skipper Jessel Carneiro could be reintegrated into the team, which will also provide the latter with a rare opportunity of proving his worth again.
Grayson’s case will be a bit different as his team suffered a defeat in this last match, and hence, the English tactician could be looking for a major overhaul. After a poor performance against his former team, Prabir Das could be dropped and Namgyal Bhutia could be reverted to his right-back role.
In such a situation, Roshan could move back to left-back and Jayesh Rane could get a chance to feature in midfield. Besides that, new Spanish acquisition Pablo Perez could be handed his debut as he could replace Danish Farooq. Barring that, Suresh Singh could be asked to make way for Sivasakthi Narayanan.
Kerala Blasters (4-4-2): Prabhsukhan Gill; Sandeep Singh, Ruivah Hormipam, Marko Leskovic, Nishu Kumar/Jessel Carneiro; Rahul KP, Jeakson Singh, Ivan Kalyuzhnyi, Sahal Abdul Samad; Dimitrios Diamantakos, Adrian Luna.
Bengaluru (4-3-3): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Namgyal Bhutia, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Sandesh Jhingan, Roshan Naorem; Pablo Perez, Javi Hernandez, Jayesh Rane; Sivasakthi Narayanan, Roy Krishna, Sunil Chhetri.
Though Bengaluru might enjoy the upper hand on head-to-head records, Kerala Blasters have had a much better campaign this season so far. Hence, we have predicted a victory for the Tuskers.