Bengaluru FC host Hyderabad FC at the Fatorda stadium later tonight in what will be a very interesting duel between two sides in the Indian Super League (ISL). Manuel Marquez’s Hyderabad rode Aridane Santana’s penalty to win over Odisha FC. On the other hand, Carles Cuadrat’s men dropped two points against FC Goa even after going 2-0 up. Here are the 5 key battles that fans should be looking out for.
Akash Mishra vs Udanta Singh
19-year-old Akash Mishra was a revelation against Odisha FC. Playing at left back, the young defender had 44 touches on the ball. He also had a shot on target as early as the 7th minute of the match which Odisha keeper Arshdeep Singh thwarted. He was dependable throughout the 90 minutes and made a number of key interceptions and tackles to keep Hyderabad’s lead intact.
However, Mishra will have his task cut out against Udanta Singh. The Bengaluru right wing back was unusually subdued in the match against FC Goa and rarely ever threatened the goal. He made just one cross in the match and that too was from a corner. With Bengaluru needing a win after a disappointing draw against Goa, the Manipuri speedster would be eager to make up lost ground and create dangerous openings down the right. This one should be a great battle.
Liston Colaco against Juanan and Ashique Karuniyan
22-year-old Liston Colaco came on in the second half against Orissa and showed everyone why he is so highly-rated. The boy from Davorlim in Goa had 22 touches of the ball in just 28 minutes and got away three shots on goal. Although all his shots were off-target, one of them nearly crept in after a mazy run past four Odisha defenders in the 67th minute. He will be expected to start against Bengaluru in place of either Mohammed Yasir or Nikhil Poojary and will definitely be a handful for Juanan and Ashique Karuniyan on that left side of the Blues defence.
The midfield battle
Bengaluru’s Dimas Delgado should be fit to start this match alongside Erik Paartalu and Suresh Wangjam. The Spanish midfielder should provide a little more rigidity to the Blues’ midfield. With Cleiton Silva scoring an important goal last time out, Kristian Opseth might have to make way for Dimas with Sunil Chhetri partnering Cleiton upfront. Udanta and Ashique can of course make up the numbers too on either side. This makes the Bengaluru midfield even more fluid with a number of players capable of playing multiple roles.
Hyderabad will look to tackle Bengaluru’s midfield strength with a trump card of their own. Joel Chianese, the Australian winger, is now fit and would be raring to go for his new side. Adil Khan might also come in to replace Hitesh Sharma as one of the two midfield pivots alongside Lluis Sastre. Whoever wins the battle in the middle of the park will therefore surely hold the edge in tonight’s match.
Aridane Santana against the Bengaluru’s back-3
The Hyderabad FC skipper was extremely lively on his debut against Odisha FC. He had 38 touches in the match, most of them in the opposition half, and had six shots at goal. He also created one chance and was a constant menace for the Odisha defence with his strength and aerial ability. The 33-year-old Spaniard will be looking for an encore performance tonight against a strong Bengaluru defence that should be bolstered by Rahul Bheke’s inclusion. Keeping him quiet will be on top of the to-do list for Fran Gonzalez and company.