FC Pune City seek home comfort vs Bengaluru FC

Amol Gokhale
Monday, 22 October 2018

“I think Bengaluru FC is the best team in India. They are playing the second season with almost the same players. They have changed only two-three players.” said Pune coach Miguel Angel Portugal.

PUNE: FC Pune City are all set to play their first home game of Indian Super League (ISL) season five at the Balewadi Sports Complex here on Monday.

But to face in-form Bengaluru FC can take away any home comfort for any team playing in the ISL, especially when you are a side still adapting to the philosophy of the new coach.

Miguel Angel Portugal’s FC Pune City are currently ninth in the ISL table with one draw and one loss against their name, while their opponents are fifth in the table with a draw and a win to their credit and have four points.

The Stallions may feel that they are in tricky waters. A face-off against Bengaluru FC comes on the back off 2-0 loss to Mumbai City FC in ‘Maharashtra  Derby’ on Friday. On Sunday (Oct 28) they visit another formidable opponent FC Goa away.

Any result on Monday against last year’s finalist will definitely have its effects on the Stallions’ season. A win, their first of the season, against arguably the best side in the league would be a huge confidence booster heading into a thick of fixtures. But a draw or a loss could also have a negative impact, which may derail their season early in the campaign.

Last season, FC Pune City boasted one of the most potent attacks, rampant on home turf to say the least, as they reached the semi-final of the tournament.

But this season the same attack has failed to impress so far. To add to that, the suspension of talismanic striker Marcelinho coupled with injury woes faced by the Brazilian hasn’t helped Pune’s case. The duo of Marcelinho and Emilian Alfaro along with the likes of Diego Carlos and Marko Stankovic brought down defences last season and the coach Portugal would wish that his strikers find their scoring boots again, when his team is in desperate need of a win.

“I think Bengaluru FC is the best team in India. They are playing the second season with almost the same players. They have changed only two-three players. That is very important. Albert Roca has gone but Carles Cuadrat is the same. It is important to follow a continuous philosophy,” said Pune coach Miguel Angel Portugal.

The Spaniard is on point about his analysis of the opponent as Bengaluru too boast their own attacking flair and one of the deadliest attacking pair in the league -- Miku and Sunil Chhetri.

Looking at the attacking names on both the sides, it is going to be a difficult evening for the defenders of opposite numbers and whoever blinks first might end up paying the price at a crucial juncture of the season. 

We are prepared for the match. We know their strengths and weaknesses very well. We have our ideas and we know the plan how to pick up a win.   
— Miguel Angel Portugal, (Coach, FC Pune City)

Games against Pune have always been tough. I met Miguel (Portugal) during our course to renew our UEFA licenses in Madrid two weeks ago and he mentioned how pleased he was with the attacking options he has.   
— Carles Cuadrat, (Coach, Bengaluru FC) 

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