A lot more than three points are at stake when mid-table rivals Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC come face to face in the Hero Indian Super League 2022/23 encounter at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday.
Bengaluru are on a great run of form at the moment, having overcome their initial difficulties this season. They arrive into this game on the back of a three-match winning run and will be expected to put their front foot forward against Chennaiyin. Chennaiyin, meanwhile, have drawn all of their last three fixtures and need to pick up a more positive outcome if they want to eclipse Bengaluru in the ISL table.
Bengaluru are seventh in the standings and have won six of their 15 games so far. They have picked up 19 points and trail Kerala Blasters in fourth position by six points. They have also lost eight matches and drawn only once, with the bulk of the losses arriving towards the initial stages of the season.
Simon Grayson’s men began their campaign on a woeful note and struggled on all fronts. However, they finally seem to have hit upon the winning formula in recent weeks. Once goal-shy, it now seems that star striker Roy Krishna has struck up an excellent partnership with Sivasakthi Narayanan and as a result, they have been able to double their goal tally this season in just the last three matches.
Moreover, the sloppy mistakes and individual errors that had been leading to them conceding goals have also dried up recently. They’ve conceded only twice in their last three encounters.
Perhaps, Bengaluru’s resurgence is best captured by the fact that they sailed past Jamshedpur FC in a comfortable 3-0 display in their most recent encounter. Rohit Kumar, Roy Krishna, and Sivasakthi Narayanan got on the scoresheet for Grayson’s team.
A win will level their points with Odisha in sixth, and this is a Southern derby they will be itching to come out on top. In the pre-match press conference, Grayson was extremely pleased with his star striker Roy Krishna regaining his form in front of goal. The former ATK Mohun Bagan number 9 has four goals to his name this season, two of them coming in the last two ISL games.
“It is a really important game for both teams. The matches on this weekend and next weekend will be vital and will shape the way the league finishes. All we can do is try and control what we can control and that is the game and our performance,” said Grayson.
“We go into this game with a lot of confidence after winning three games on the trot. We will play with confidence, not arrogance,” he added.
Chennaiyin FC, meanwhile, have been suffering on all fronts in the recent weeks. The Marina Machans are without a win in their last five games and haven’t tasted victory in a while. Moreover, all of their last three games have ended in draws with Jamshedpur, Hyderabad, and ATK Mohun Bagan.
While the fact that they held heavy-hitters and high-flying sides in Jamshedpur, Hyderabad, and ATK MB to stalemates is no mean feat given that they have been very prolific this season and Chennaiyin had also restricted Mumbai City to just a single-goal victory before that, at some point, Thomas Brdaric will be hoping that his side ends up snapping out of the winless streak sooner rather than later.
Their last encounter against the Mariners ended in a goalless draw and the Marina Machans have lost only once in their last five matches, to table-toppers Mumbai City FC. The hamstring injury of the inspirational and creative Nasser El Khayati could be one of the reasons that have halted Chennaiyin’s progress this season.
Even though they have been performing well in almost all departments, they have lacked a cutting edge and ruthlessness to their game which has prevented them from finishing off matches. The moments of brilliance have been hard to come by and even Petar Sliskovic failed to score for the first time in four games last week.
Sliskovic is the top scorer for Chennaiyin so far this season and has found the back of the net on eight occasions in 14 matches. He has also been in majestic form and all of his goals have arrived in the last 10 matches in the ISL.
On the more positive side of things, the Marina Machans will be hoping that El Khayati is fit enough to make it to the bench against Bengaluru. The Dutchman has missed all of the last four matches due to hamstring issue but has been in training recently and it remains to be seen whether he receives the medical green light for this clash.
“I am looking forward to the match against Bengaluru FC. We analysed the game and showed all players the approach and how we have to play,” said Brdaric.
“We don’t know if Nasser [El Khayati] will be a part of the squad for this match. We still have two training sessions left and after those sessions, we will decide if we want to include him in the squad or not,” he added.
This will be the 13th matches between the two sides in the ISL. Bengaluru hold the upper hand in the Southern Derby with six victories while the Marina Machans have won thrice, and more importantly, defeated the Blues in the final to win the ISL 2017-18. The last match between these two sides was held earlier this season in Chennai and it ended in a 1-1 draw.
BFC vs CHE, Indian Super League 2022/23
Date: 28th January, 2023
Time: 5:30 PM IST
Venue: Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru
Bengaluru FC Indian Super League form:
Chennaiyin FC Indian Super League form:
Bengaluru FC wins: 6
Chennaiyin FC wins: 3
Bengaluru FC Team News:
There are no fresh injury concerns for Bengaluru FC and Simon Grayson will be expected to keep most of the starting XI intact.
Chennaiyin FC Team News:
Meanwhile, Thomas Brdaric will be hoping to address the elephant in the room that is the fitness of Nasser El Khayati. While he has said that the Dutchman has returned to training, it remains to be seen whether he is fit enough to make it to the matchday squad. Brdaric will also have to take a fitness call on Rahim Ali after the final training session before the game.
Bengaluru FC possible starting lineup:
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Prabir Das, Sandesh Jhingan, Alan Costa, Parag Shrivas, Naorem Roshan Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rohit Kumar, Javi Hernandez, Roy Krishna, Sivasakthi Narayanan
Chennaiyin FC possible starting lineup:
Samik Mitra (GK), Ajith Kumar, Fallou Diagne, Vafa Hakhamaneshi, Aakash Sangwan, Jiteshwor Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Vincy Barretto, Julius Duker, Ninthoinganba Meetei, Petar Sliskovic
This is a hard result to predict. While it’s true that on paper, Chennaiyin have drawn all of their last three games and Bengaluru have won each of their most recent three fixtures, the hard reality is the fact that the Marina Machans were pitted against superior opposition and they have done extremely well to hold them to stalemates.
Bengaluru, finding their feet in front of goal and also reducing errors at the back, is great news for fans of the side but they will be expected to face more obstacles against Chennaiyin. The Marina Machans, on their part, are just shy of a killer streak in the final third. As a result, a draw between the two sides may end up being a very likely outcome.