It’s a fixture that may have come a little too early in the season and with not as much at stake as there was, when they last met in the final of the Indian Super League earlier this year, but Carles Cuadrat expects the face-off to stay true to form and entertain when Bengaluru FC take on FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Monday.
“We’re all aware that games against Goa are demanding and that they are a team very similar to us. Like us, they have retained the staff and the squad and have been together for some time now, and we’re both aware of each other’s style of play. Games between us have always left supporters of both sides entertained and I think Monday will not be any different. It is a very early moment in the season, and while points are important, we aren’t in a dramatic, must-win situation. So, both teams can step out and put on a nice show for the fans and television,” said Cuadrat.
Bengaluru FC, despite dominating their season-opener against NorthEast United FC at home last week, had to share points in a goalless draw. Asked whether the inability of his attack to stick the ball in the back of the net left him frustrated, Cuadrat chose to see the positives. “We had chances from Manu, Ashique, Chhetri, Nishu and Udanta and that only suggests we have different players with chances. There are days in football where the ball just won’t get past the line, and Monday was one of those days. The important thing is we’re creating chances, it will only be a matter of time before we put them away.”
Sergio Lobera’s side, meanwhile, began their season with a 3-0 dismantling of Chennaiyin FC at home where former Blue Len Doungel, Ferran Corominas and Carlos Pena were on target. The Gaurs had Hugo Boumous and Edu Bedia missing the game with lack of match fitness and injury, and the duo’s presence in the squad for Monday looks like being a late call that Lobera will take. However, the Spaniard will have the services of Moroccan midfielder Ahmed Jahouh who served a one-game suspension for his sending off in last season’s final.
Cuadrat will have a couple of late calls of his own to make as he looks to bring back defender, Albert Serran (adductor) and midfielder Erik Paartalu (ankle) back into the squad after they missed the opener at the Fortress.
The Blues have had the upper hand in clashes between the sides, winning four out of the five games the teams have contested. But Cuadrat refused to make much of the statistics. “The games between us have always been close and there have been key moments that have tipped the result in favour of one team, by just a bit. We are coaches who like to prepare well, but on Monday it won’t be Lobera versus me, it will be eleven players from Bengaluru versus eleven players from Goa.”
The match kicks off at 7.30pm and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network and Hotstar.