ISL: Bengaluru FC banks on watertight defence to retain title

Bengaluru FC has conceded the least goals this season and with 10 clean sheets, 'keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is favourite to win the Golden Glove.

Bengaluru FC will be looking to become the first team to retain the ISL trophy.   -  ISL Sportzpics

Defending champion Bengaluru FC heads into the 2019-20 Indian Super League semifinals with two wins from its last six matches. Both the victories came in AFC Cup, a tournament it is no longer part of after losing to Maziya S&RC in a penalty shootout on Wednesday.

The Blues are the most decorated Indian club of recent years. Since being launched in 2013, they have won at least one trophy each season. However, this year the scenario is different. The departure of Miku has reduced its productivity in front of goal. The side has scored just 22 goals, which is 12 less than what it managed in the previous campaign.

Nine of those 22 were converted by skipper Sunil Chhetri, while BFC's second-highest scorer Deshorn Brown has two goals. Wingers Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan have majorly misfired up front this season.

Udanta, registering five goals and three assists last edition, has been a shadow of himself this season. He has a solitary goal in 17 matches, while Ashique has one assist in the same number of games. With Leon Augustine impressing in encounters against ATK and Maziya, he might start over the out-of-form duo in the playoffs.

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Head coach Carles Cuadrat, however, will be happy with how his defence has performed so far. Juanan, Albert Serran and co. have conceded 13 goals, which is the least by any team this edition. Full-backs Rahul Bheke and Nishu Kumar have also put up good performances.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has emerged as the goalkeeper of the season with 46 saves and 10 clean sheets. Midfielders Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu and Harmanjot Khabra have also provided ample protection to Gurpreet and the back four.

As has been the case this year, Cuadrat would want to see his side's defenders to frustrate last-four opponent ATK, with the forwards capable of making breakthroughs on the counter.

Player to watch out: Dimas Delgado

With new signing Raphael Augusto failing and Paartalu recovering from an injury early on, Delgado took the onus on himself in midfield this season. The Spaniard has made the most tackles and had the most touches among all BFC players, while contributing with a goal and five assists.

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Dimas Delgado has contributed at both ends this season.   -  ISL Sportzpics

 

Bengaluru is the best team when it comes to attacking set-pieces in the league and Delgado is central to it, with his inch-perfect corners and free-kicks doing the damage. He has also played all 18 matches in the league this edition, proving that he's one of the fittest players in the competition. He will be Cuadrat's trump card against ATK.

 

Stats2018-192019-20
Goals scored3422
Goals conceded2413
Clean sheets710
Passes89126679
Shots252218
Touches117629404
Tackles406510

 

 

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