Chennai: Bengaluru FC will look to confirm their participation in the play-offs of the 2018-19 season of the Indian Super League with a win when they face Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Chennai, on Saturday. Needing two more points, the Blues will be eager to grab a win, having missed the chance in midweek when they drew 2-2 against Kerala Blasters at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
A repeat of last year’s final, Bengaluru enter the clash as league leaders while the hosts have had a poor season and languish at the bottom of the pile. Head Coach Carles Cuadrat said he was wary of the challenge, with Bengaluru having won the reverse fixture 1-0 in an exciting opening day contest.
“When we played Chennaiyin in our opening game, it was a real test and it was a tough game. It’s true that they have struggled this season, but they are a completely different team with some new players and they will look to win. It’s a big rivalry, because we played them in the final last year and I am sure it will be an exciting game,” said Cuadrat, speaking to the media on the eve of the game.
While the Blues bounced back from two goals down in the first half to draw 2-2 against Blasters in their previous game, Chennaiyin let go of a first half lead against FC Pune City and slumped to their fifth defeat in a row. Scoring is an area of concern for John Gregory, who has opted to field former BFC man CK Vineeth as the sole striker in the new-year with Jeje Lalpekhlua dropping to the bench.
On the squad news front, Chennaiyin roped in Vineeth and Halicharan Narzary on loan from Kerala Blasters while Australian midfielder Christopher Herd replaced Spanish defender Inigo Calderon during the break. The Blues meanwhile have Luisma Villa in the traveling squad, with the Spaniard having recovered from a minor back injury that saw him miss the game against the Blasters. Venezuelan striker Miku has also made the trip, his first since the Blues took on Kerala Blasters in November.
“We are all glad to have Miku back in the squad. We lacked a number nine for a major part of the season and to have him back is important. He is a very important part of our team, and will play a part in tomorrow’s game. But we will have to assess if he can start or whether he will come off the bench once again,” Carles said.
Both sides have faced off four times in the ISL so far with either team winning twice. The only previous game held in Chennai saw the Blues claim a dominant 3-1 win. The match kicks off at 7.30 pm and will be telecast on the STAR Sports Network, HotStar, JioTV and Colors Kannada.