Defending champion Mohun Bagan SG will be looking to keep its status intact when it meets last year’s runner-up Bengaluru FC in the second outing of the ISL-10, at its home in Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday.
The host will be buoyed by its first-round home win against newcomer Punjab FC (3-1) while Bengaluru, which is travelling for the second consecutive match, will be hoping to put behind the opening match defeat against Kerala Blasters and obtain the first point of the League.
The two teams have forged some changes in their squads in the pre-season transfer window and will be approaching the match with different dynamics compared to what they had in their previous meeting.
Mohun Bagan strengthened its squad with notable signings like the Australian World Cupper Jason Cummings while also adding the India internationals like Sahal Abdul Samad, Anwar Ali and Anirudh Thapa.
Bengaluru FC has also undergone a significant overhaul with some of the summer signings like Ryan Williams and Keziah Veendorp making their presence felt. Bengaluru coach Simon Grayson may consider a rejig in the roster with Javi Hernandez and Curtis Main also available for selection.
Considering the strengths of the two equally matched opponents, the contest is likely to be quite intense giving the home fans enough to cheer for.
“We have not got a lot of time to prepare the team because we played a lot of matches in a short time. Considering that, I think it is necessary to control a lot of details about ourselves when we start tomorrow. It is important we keep in our mind the plan so that we have success,” Mohun Bagan coach Juan Ferrando said.
“For me, the most important thing is the plan of the match. What we play against Odisha, Punjab, it cannot be the same against Bengaluru. The plan is different with Bengaluru, and we should focus on our game to get the best result,” he added.
The Mariners, making their 11th outing of the season, have won nine matches and lost only once (against traditional rival East Bengal in the Durand Cup league stage) in its journey so far. They are also on a seven-game unbeaten streak in the league.
“We want to be hard to play against, and to show flair and attacking ability to try and hurt the opposition. So it will be about striking the right balance of keeping clean sheets and also asking questions in the attacking third,” Grayson said about Bengaluru’s approach.
Bengaluru will be missing the iconic striker Sunil Chhetri and winger Rohit Danu, who are out on national duty for the ongoing Asian Games. Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan will continue to miss the services of the former Bengaluru winger Ashique Kuruniyan, who has been ruled out with a knee injury.
“When you play against good players, you have to defend well not only individually, but collectively as a team and not let them have space, time and opportunities in the game. We will also be working on the things that we know can hurt Mohun Bagan as well,” Grayson added.
The last time the two sides met was in the previous edition’s final in March, where ATK Mohun Bagan edged out Bengaluru FC 4-3 on penalties at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa.
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