Mohun Bagan Super Giant vs Bengaluru: Preview and Prediction
After a dramatic opening round of fixtures, matchday 2 of the ISL will kick-start with a blockbuster battle between defending champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Bengaluru in a repeat fixture of last year’s final.
The Mariners will host the Blues at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday looking to consolidate their lead at the top of the table after they defeated Punjab 3-1 in their opening fixture this term.
Juran Ferrando’s side dished out a clinical display as goals from Jason Cummings Dimitri Petratos, and Manvir Singh gave them all three points while Luka Majcen scored a consolation strike for his club.
Simon Grayson’s men faced Kerala Blasters in the league opener and they were well beaten as the Tuskers triumphed in Kochi courtesy of an own goal from Keziah Veendorp while captain Adrian Luna was also on target, before Curtis Main pulled one back.
The Blues will be hoping to bounce back from last week’s 2-1 defeat with talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri still unavailable as the Indian football team qualified for the round of 16 of the Asian Games wherein they will play Saudi Arabia.
The reigning champions have been in red-hot form since winning the league title last season. They will be hoping to continue the momentum in a tough fixture against the 2018-19 champions.
The Mariners finished second in their Durand Cup group and qualified as one of the second-best-placed teams, behind East Bengal. They were handed a difficult fixture against Mumbai City in the quarter-finals but Ferrando masterminded a 3-1 win, dumping out the ISL shield holders to kickstart the knockout rounds.
In the semi-final, the oldest club in Indian football eliminated Goa 2-1, and in the final, they squared off against arch-rivals East Bengal and the Mariners ended up lifting their 17th Durand Cup title in the club’s history thanks to Petratos’ goal.
After beating Machhindra 3-1 in the AFC Cup second preliminary round, and a 3-1 win over Abahani Dhaka, Ferrando’s side hammered four past Odisha to open their AFC Cup group stage on a high.
Meanwhile, the Blues named a reserve squad for their Durand Cup title defence and the inexperience of the youngsters saw them finish second behind Gokulam Kerala, winning just once.
The disappointment of an early exit from India’s premier cup competition was followed by a 3-2 win over Jamshedpur in a friendly but they lost the opening league encounter narrowly.
Considered one of the modern rivalries given Bengaluru’s late emergence compared to the legacy of the Mariners, the Kolkata-based club has an upper hand when it comes to previous meetings between these two sides.
Ferrando’s men have won five games from a total of 8 meetings whereas the Blues have only beaten MBSG once, it was in February earlier this year.
The most recent meeting between the clubs was in March in last season’s final which ended 2-2 after Petratos’ brace cancelled out goals from Chhetri and Roy Krishna. The Mariners won the game 4-3 on penalties to lift their fourth ISL title.
For the Blues, Chhetri remains the only major absence but apart from that, they have a fully fit squad to choose from. Grayson went with a 5-3-2 in the opening fixture and a similar-looking side could take to the field at the Salt Lake Stadium as well.
On the other hand, the Mariners will be missing the services of Ashique Kuruniyan who has been ruled out of the season due to a knee injury, but apart from him, Ferrando has a host of star names to choose from.
The Kolkata giants lined up in an attacking 3-4-3 for their opening league encounter, Anirudh Thapa was suspended for matchday 1 and is likely to replace Glan Martins to make his league debut for his new club.
Predicted Starting XIs
Mohun Bagan Super Giant (3-4-3): Vishal Kaith; Anwar Ali, Hector Yuste, Brandon Hamill; Asish Rai, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Subhashish Bose; Dimitri Petratos, Jason Cummings, Liston Colaco.
Bengaluru (5-3-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Roshan Singh Naorem, Namgyal Bhutia, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Slavko Damjanovic, Jessel Carneiro, Rohit Kumar, Javi Hernandez, Suresh Singh Wangjam; Sivasakthi Narayanan, Curtis Main.
Ever since last year’s final, the Mariners have been on an upward curve, while the Blues have struggled somewhat. Judging by their recent performances, and the work done by both sides in the transfer window, Ferrando’s men will certainly have an upper hand on their opponents.