ISL 2020-21 preview: Upbeat Bengaluru FC to meet Chennaiyin in Fatorda

Bengaluru FC will look to steal a march over its rivals in the battle for the last playoff berth. Chennaiyin, eighth in the table, will be hoping to get out of the slump.

Bengaluru FC will look to steal a march over its rivals in the battle for the last playoff berth when it takes on Chennaiyin FC on Friday.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

After snapping its eight-match winless run with a 2-0 win over SC East Bengal, Bengaluru FC (BFC) will look to steal a march over its rivals in the battle for the last playoff berth when it takes on Chennaiyin FC at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday.

Bengaluru FC vs Chennaiyin FC: LIVE BLOG

In sixth position with 18 points, the 2018-19 champion is four points off the fourth spot, and would want to build on the positive result. Chennaiyin, eighth in the table with two fewer points, will be hoping to get out of a slump that has seen two draws and two defeats in the last four matches.

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But BFC interim coach Naushad Moosa will have to reshuffle his side again. Defender Rahul Bheke will be missing after having picked up his fourth yellow card, while youngster Leon Augustine – a breath of fresh air in recent games – is out with a hamstring injury. On match-eve, Moosa confirmed that defensive mainstay Juanan was unlikely to recover from the hamstring strain he suffered a week ago against Hyderabad FC.

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The return of midfielder Erik Paartalu from suspension should however give the side a fillip. New signing Xisco Hernandez is out of mandatory quarantine and available, though his long break from competitive football means he will only be eased into the squad and not thrusted in. The news that midfielder Dimas Delgado has returned to India will warm the BFC fans’ hearts, though he may be available only for the last two ties.

On the other hand, Chennaiyin boss Csaba Laszlo has his full roster of foreign players available for selection. It will serve the team well if Manuel Lanzarote, who has come in for the injured Rafael Crivellaro, can lend the midfield some creativity. Leading up to the contest, Chennaiyin has scored just once in four games.

Anirudh Thapa is in contention too and will hope to be more of an influence than he was in the narrow 1-0 loss in the reverse fixture in early December in which he limped off after just 15 minutes.

“With Thapa, I told him not to hurry because after his first injury he came back very quickly and got injured again,” said Laszlo. “But he's mentally and physically fit. We helped him come back from injury and he will help the team to get a victory over Bengaluru.”

“If we want to be in the top four, we have to win the remaining games. We have five finals. I hope we can showcase not just good football but also score goals. We created so many chances but didn't score. I hope that we have more luck against Bengaluru,” Laszlo added.

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