Immovable BFC versus unstoppable Goa

In a clash that pits the best defence against the best attack in the Indian Super League, Bengaluru FC will take on FC Goa in one of the biggest games of the calendar year at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Friday.

To say there is never a dull moment when these two teams clash would not be overstating things. In the six previous clashes between two have produced 18 goals, 4 red cards, 27 yellow cards and a lot of entertainment for the fans.

This time also, expect no difference.

With the visitors enjoying a three point lead atop the table, a spot that had been held steadfastly by the hosts, the onus is on BFC - five points behind in third - to reduce the deficit.

With four wins to their favour, BFC has always appeared to have a measure of how to play against Sergio Lobera's men. The physicality that Erik Paartalu and Co. brings, along with the dogged determination to make life difficult for The Gaurs, have suited Carles Cuadrat's men well. 

That the Goans struggle against a team who don't allow them to play their passing patterns is well known. BFC, more so than most, have managed to often win the tactical battle on that front. The question now is whether Lobera has an ace up his sleeve to blindside the defending champions. With Ferran Corominas, a half chance is all it takes.

However, with Bengaluru struggling to score goals, it's unlikely they will have the sharpness upfront that they once showed despite the return of Manuel Onwu from injury. Sunil Chhetri has struggled to rise to his exulted levels we're used to, while Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan and Raphael Augusto have failed to fire in front of goal. Their new singing Deshorn Brown will not feature in the game. Nevertheless, the defence remains sharp.

What has often been the deciding factor in the clash has been the players' ability to keep their heads amidst the clash and Goa are suspect in this front. The three red cards and 23 yellow cards this season, sheds some light on the matter. They also have the highest tackles in the league with 381 while BFC, at the opposite end of the spectrum in all these statistics, have 235, the lowest in the league.

"I love the way Goa play but at the same time, they are clever and take advantages of situations that referees should punish," Cuadrat said on the eve of the game. "They have four players -Seriton (Fernandes), (Mourtada) Fall, Lenny (Rodrigues) and (Ahmed) Jahouh - a lot of times, they should get second yellow and be out of the game."

While rotational and tactical fouls are part and parcel of the modern game, Cuadrat asked for more protection from the referees. "It's tactics but the ones who are managing the game should notice that," he said.

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