Chennaiyin FC play hosts to Bengaluru FC in what is going to be an intriguing Indian Super League (ISL) clash on Friday night. Csaba Laszlo’s men will be confident of getting all three points against a visibly struggling Bengaluru who are yet to register their first victory of the season. Here are five names that could make a difference in the high-voltage clash later tonight.
Anirudh Thapa (Midfielder - Chennaiyin FC)
The India international started the ISL on a very bright note, scoring inside the first minute of his team’s first match. His versatility in the middle of the park means he can be used as a box-to-box midfielder as well as slightly further forward in a more creative role. In the second match against Kerala Blasters too he was his lively self, getting away four shots at goal while playing from central midfield. In the two matches so far he has made 10 interceptions and 9 tackles, further underlining his importance for Chennaiyin’s balance.
Cleiton Silva (Midfielder - Bengaluru FC)
The Brazilian midfielder has been the only Bengaluru player to catch the eye in their first two games. He scored the first goal in the first match and has looked a threat every time he gets the ball in dangerous areas. Carles Cuadrat’s side has mostly looked one-paced with their attackers failing to stretch opposition defences. However, the 31-year-old has the uncanny ability to make something out of nothing and that is what his side will be hoping for against Chennaiyin.
Esmael ‘Isma’ Goncalves (Forward - Chennaiyin FC)
The Portuguese forward has made a good start to life in the ISL. He got a goal and an assist in the first match but was slightly subdued in the derby against Kerala. Having been taken off after 56 minutes in that game, he will have a point to prove against a strong Bengaluru defence. The 29-year-old should get some joy down the right and should be able to trouble Juanan and Ashique Karuniyan down that side with his pace and trickery.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Goalkeeper - Bengaluru FC)
The Indian national team goalkeeper hasn’t done much wrong in the campaign so far even though his side is struggling at 6th in the points table. In the first match against FC Goa, none of the goals were his fault per se and in the second, he managed to shut out a determined Hyderabad FC attack. However, Bengaluru’s form right now is a bit of concern and being one of the senior players in the side, Carles Cuadrat will be looking at him for inspiration against a strong Chennaiyin side.
Rafael Crivellaro (Midfielder - Chennaiyin FC)
The most creative player in the Chennaiyin side, Crivellaro always seems to have an extra second on the ball. His incisive passing was one of the major reasons why Chennaiyin was able to break the lines so effectively in their first match and he will be expected to do the same against a not so dynamic Bengaluru midfield. Having put in 8 tackles and made 3 interceptions in the first two matches, his defensive output will be important too during transitions. His understanding with Jakub Sylvestr upfront and Isma on the right is going to play a big role in deciding the result of the match.