Super Cup: Bagan lets game slip as Roca rings in the changes

During the pre-match, Bagan's boss Shankarlal Chakraborty seemed to be in awe of his opposite number Albert Roca's ability to change formations, at various points, through the course of a match.

Albert Roca Pujol shifted to a three-man defence in the second half, after starting the game with a 4-4-2 formation. (File Photo)   -  AFP

Being a goal up and having a numerical advantage on the pitch, Mohun Bagan should have sealed its place in the final of the Super Cup. However, the Mariners handed the initiative back to Bengaluru FC and paid the price for it.

During the pre-match, Bagan's boss Shankarlal Chakraborty seemed to be in awe of his opposite number Albert Roca's ability to change formations, at various points, through the course of a match. On Tuesday, at the Kalinga Stadium, Shankarlal appeared to do the same, as his side crashed to a 4-2 defeat, in the semifinal.

Roca shifted to a three-man defence in the second half, after starting the game with a 4-4-2 formation. Despite Nishu Kumar's red card in the 50th minute, Bengaluru continued to play possession football and create seven chances, in total. Miku converted three of them before Sunil Chhetri curled one into the top corner, to punish Bagan.

"Our plan was to let Bengaluru play football. However, when they come in our zone, we were to quickly block them. We did that excellently in the first half. In the second, after the red card, it wasn't easy. For Miku's opening goal, the three players in front of him didn't make a challenge. And for his second, we lacked concentration, as they took an early free-kick. Maybe, it was my mistake for not giving proper suggestions to my players," Shakarlal conceded.

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Roca's juggling act

Roca's change involved the introduction of his compatriot Antonio Dovale in place of right-back Harmonjot Khabra. Khabra was a last minute selection for Juanan, who fell ill during the warm-up. Dovale, immediately, sped things up, in the middle of the park, as Nishu Kumar's shot required a save from Shilton Paul, in the 46th minute.

"We had to change the system. We were not consistent or penetrating enough in the attack. I knew he (Khabra) would not finish the game. And it was better, perhaps, to change the system, to surprise the opponent. We were quite well, at the start of second half, causing them enough problems."

"With the red card, I had to change the system again. And after the two goals, I had to change the system again. My players understood all the situation in the game, especially in the second half," Roca explained, of his tactics.

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Dovale's impact

Dovale has seen most of his appearances come as a substitute, in Bengaluru's domestic campaign. However, when called upon, the attacking midfielder made quicker exchanges with Miku and Udanta Singh to make the Blues' possession count. Mohun Bagan's midfield, particularly, found it hard to disrupt the combination play between Dovale and Miku.

"Toni and I played together in Spain (Rayo Vallecano), last season. He knows my movements. We know his quality. The coach has problems choosing his starting XI. This is because of our power and our quality. We can play in different systems with different players."

"Today (Tuesday), Toni did it. The coach told him to "give the ball, find the gap, play your football with confidence and help in defence". I am happy for him as it's not easy, here, for him. Sometimes, you need to wait for your chance and he did his job today," said the hat-trick hero, Miku.