To not slip out of contention for a playoff spot will be high on the minds of Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC when they meet in an early kick-off at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.
BFC (19 points) and CFC (17) are seventh and eighth in the table respectively, with the former having played a match more (15 to 14). With Odisha FC occupying the last playoff position on 22 points, neither side can afford a defeat.
On form, BFC looks better placed to avoid that fate.
It has won its last three games, scoring eight times and conceding just twice. The strike partnership between Roy Krishna and N. Sivasakthi is blossoming, with both players among the goals in recent ties.
“We’re going into this game with a lot of belief because we’ve scored three goals and got a clean sheet in the last fixture,” said BFC coach Simon Grayson, on Friday. “The aim is to play with confidence, not arrogance, because we’re respectful of what Chennaiyin FC can pose.”
In the recent past, though, CFC has been far from fiery. It is winless in its last five games, including four draws. Abdenasser El Khayati (seven goals and four assists) is on the comeback trail after missing the last four matches. Much will depend on Petar Sliskovic, CFC’s top-scorer with eight goals.
“I showed the players our match plan and it’s up to us – how we implement it,” said CFC coach Thomas Brdaric. “For 90 minutes, we have to show very good concentration, good pressing, and not let them simply play in the last zone.”