Matchday 5 of the Indian Super League (ISL) kicks off tomorrow with a match between Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United FC. Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru will be happy with finally getting their first victory on board in the match against Chennaiyin FC. However, they will have their task cut out against a fluid and flexible NorthEast side that are yet to lose a match.
The Blues haven’t lost against the Highlanders in their last four home games and are also undefeated in their last 9 home matches against all oppositions. With NorthEast now undefeated in five matches, that record should be challenged heavily tomorrow. If Bengaluru take all three points tonight they will overtake NorthEast who are currently third in the points table. The two teams have met 8 times in all till date. Bengaluru FC have won five of them while NorthEast have won just one.
Gerard Nus’ unbeaten side have 8 points from four matches and will be coming into the game with a positive mindset. Till now, they have been incredibly disciplined in defence and very efficient further forward. Dylan Fox should come back into the side after coming off the bench against SC East Bengal. His replacement in the game, Mashoor Shereef also did a good job and that might tempt Nus to rest Benjamin Lambot for this match. Ashutosh Mehta and Gurjinder Kumar are both in fine form while Provat Lakra can also slot into that right back position that Mehta occupies.
In midfield, they have the ever dependable Khassa Camara as well as an improving Luis Machado. Amongst the Indian players, Ninthoi Meetei has been the brightest star while Lalengmawia and Rochharzela have put in impressive cameos. Thereafter, in Idrissa Sylla and Kwesi Appiah, they have two physical strikers who are both in fine form. VP Suhair also impressed after coming on against SC East Bengal while Nim Dorjee might also have a look in from the bench.
The young Suresh Wangjam has been the best Bengaluru FC player by far this season. He has been absolutely everywhere and his energy in midfield is what has driven the team forward. However, with Erik Paartalu and Dimas Delgado slowly coming into their own, they should have more joy going forward from hereon. Their defence has been pretty stable too with Harmanjot Khabra, Juanan and Fran Gonzalez doing a decent job till now. Carles Cuadrat went with a traditional back-4 in the last match with Ashique Karuniyan slotting in at left back. With the physical threat that the NorthEast strikers possess, he might go the same route tomorrow as well.
However, what must be bothering the Bengaluru head coach is the form of his attackers. Captain Sunil Chhetri finally got his first goal of the season in the last game from a penalty. But the side hasn’t really clicked from open play except after the first match against FC Goa. Cleiton Silva has been good in patches while Kristian Opseth and Deshorn Brown haven't really done anything worthwhile yet. Udanta Singh, who was dropped in the last game, also hasn’t been upto the mark till now adding to Cuadrat’s worries.
Predicted Lineups and Result
Gurpreet Singh; Rahul Bheke, Juanan, Harmanjot Khabra, Ashique Karuniyan; Suresh Wangjam, Erik Paartalu, Dimas Delgado; Deshorn Brown, Sunil Chhetri, Cleiton Silva
NorthEast United FC:
Gurmeet Singh; Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar; Khassa Camara, Lalengmawia, Luís Machado; Ninthoinganba Meetei, Kwesi Appiah, Idrissa Sylla
Bengaluru FC 1-1 NorthEast United
TV Channel and Livestream
The match will be telecast across Star Network’s sports and regional channels. It can also be streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV. Kick-off is at 7:30 pm IST.