ISL 2020-21: Cuadrat hails Bengaluru FC's squad strength, confident of title bid

Even as Carles Cuadrat felt that BFC and ATK held a slight edge owing to the “continuity” in their projects, the Catalan said life in the bio-bubble will test all teams.

Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat is confident of the side taking the contest to its competitors, banking on the side's depth this time around.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Bengaluru FC (BFC) coach Carles Cuadrat believes that he has a better squad than last year’s and is confident of competing for the Indian Super League (ISL) title. BFC finished third in the league last season before losing to eventual champion ATK (now ATK Mohun Bagan) in the playoff semifinal.

“We will be competitive,” said Cuadrat, looking ahead. “The technical staff have identified the good and the bad from last season. We have a better squad and it is my job now to make it competitive enough.”

In 2019-20, BFC was strong defensively, conceding just 13 times leading into the playoffs. Goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu kept a league-record 11 clean sheets, including one in the first leg of the semifinal.

But the 22 goals it scored in the league stage was just one more than bottom-placed Hyderabad FC’s. In the upcoming campaign, it will also miss the vibrant presence of midfield creator Raphael Augusto.

CHECK OUT: ISL 2020-21: Full squad list of Bengaluru FC

“The truth is we created chances last year,” insisted Cuadrat. “Even when we lost Augusto for half of the season, we created nearly seven per game. Some of them were from set pieces, but not all. This year, we have players who can finish, like [Cleiton] Silva, Kristian [Opseth], along with [Deshorn] Brown and Sunil [Chhetri].”

“Cleiton is creative, sees good passes, can dribble well and also finish. Opseth has a powerful left leg. He is a big guy who uses his body to protect the ball and brings other players into play.”

If Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan can recover from last year and live up to their potential, it will be like two new signings for Cuadrat.

READ: ISL 2020-21: All you need to know - venues, teams, stats, fixtures

“We were talking to Udanta about the 2018-19 season, his best. He needs to start from there. He is a mentally strong and has shown that in the way he is training now. It's the same with Ashique. He is a physical monster and we have to use that talent.”

Even as Cuadrat felt that BFC and ATK held a slight edge owing to the “continuity” in their projects, the Catalan said life in the bio-bubble will test all teams.

“Normally after a bad game you go home and connect with the family. Now you will be with teammates and have to be more conscious. The real challenge will be during Christmas. Some who do well will feel good during the festive time, and the others not so. That will be a real test.”

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