ISL: In-form Bengaluru faces high-scoring Goa

ISL table-topper Bengaluru FC hosts the league's highest-scoring side, FC Goa, in a crucial clash on Friday.

Miku has been instrumental in Bengaluru FC's success this season and has scored a combined total of 20 goals in partnership with captain Sunil Chhetri.   -  ISL Media

When Bengaluru FC and FC Goa met at the Fatorda stadium earlier this season, they produced one of the league's most thrilling games, a wild fixture that finished 4-3 in the home side's favour.

An exciting encounter is in the beckoning when the two highest-scoring sides in the ISL this season clash again at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Friday. "Spectators like goals but for coaches it is just crazy to watch that kind of game," said BFC head coach Albert Roca here on Thursday. "I hope tomorrow will be a normal game. A clean sheet would be nice."

However, the two teams arrive in vastly different form. BFC sits on top of the table, having won four games in a row, including three away ties. Roca's men are fresh off a 3-1 thrashing of Chennaiyin FC, with Miku and Sunil Chhetri taking their combined tally of goals to 20. "We're reading games better, creating more chances and conceding fewer ones, but we're far from being a great side," said Roca.

With an AFC Cup play-off against TC Sports scheduled for Tuesday in the Maldives, BFC will consider resting a few players. "Rotation is important because we have a tight, tough calendar. We will make a few changes but not too many," Roca stated. The Spaniard also confirmed that forward Braulio Nobrega was out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Goa, on the other hand, has picked up one point from its last two matches. Sergio Lobera's men have scored more goals than anyone else this season but hold the second-worst defensive record, having conceded 23 goals. The brilliance of the attacking duo of Ferran Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote has too often been offset by errors at the back. "As a team, we follow a certain philosophy, playing attacking, possession football. We get punished when we make mistakes at the back; that has been the story of our season. But we won't change our ideals," said assistant coach Derrick Pereira.

He added that Dutch striker Mark Sifneos – who was forced to fly back home to sort out visa issues after his move from Kerala Blasters – would return on Thursday night and could play some part in the game.

Pereira was confident that Goa, currently two points off the play-off spots, would not be bothered by recent results. "We've come here with a positive frame of mind; we've prepared well,” he said. “It will be a different game tomorrow.”

In light of the prevailing situation in the Maldives, Bengaluru FC has written to the Asian Football Confederation for clarification on the state of its AFC Cup play-off fixture against TC Sports Club. The first leg is scheduled to be played in Male on Tuesday. A state of emergency was declared in the Maldives on February 6.

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