If there were two teams who had to make the Indian Super League finals taking the numbers in account, it had to be Bengaluru FC and FC Goa.
Seperated by goal difference after finishing as the top two sides in the table, the two have been a force to reckon with. If last season’s attacking exploits were not enough, the Gaurs have netted a staggering tally of 42 goals.
The Blues, led by the pragmatic Carles Cuadrat are second with 35 goals to their name.
After that gut-wrenching night at Fatorda Stadium in 2015, where Chennaiyin’s Steven Mendoza shattered many Goan hearts, Sergio Lobera’s side now have a chance to write their name into the history books once again.
Bengaluru will have another shot at redemption, having lost a dramatic final last year a whisker despite topping the league table. With a shot at glory, both teams will be gunning for the coveted trophy, come Sunday.
| Bengaluru FC|| FC Goa|
| Top scorer|| Sunil Chhetri (9 goals)|| Ferran Corominas (16 goals)|
| Highest assists|| Xisco Hernandez (5)|| Ferran Corominas (7)|
| Highest saves|| Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (59) || Mohammad Nawaz (35)|
| Highest passes|| Dimas Delgado (1025)|| Ahmed Jahouh (1394)|
| Highest interceptions|| Rahul Bheke (24)|| Ahmed Jahouh (33)|
Style of play
With two Spanish masterminds having worked with Barcelona’s youth set-up before, Goa’s template has been the same from last season: Keep the ball, play out from the back and attack relentlessly. Lenny Rodrigues and Ahmed Jahouh’s midfield partnership has been influential for the Goans, and has helped them make use of the wide areas and create chances in the final third. That explains why no other side has scored more goals from crosses than Goa (16).
Similarly, Bengaluru like to dominate play in the middle of the park, where the likes of Xisco Hernandez and Dimas Delgado hold the key. With players technically good and confident on the ball, Cuadrat favours tweaking his formation depending on the opposition, and need of the situation.
Both teams love to play on the front foot and getting that early goal has played a huge part in their victories. Goa have managed to win all their games this season after grabbing the opening goal while Bengaluru have ended up on the losing side only after being in a similar situation.
Psychological advantage for the Blues
Bengaluru have already done the double over Goa this season and with the likes of Miku and Chhetri finding their rhythm at the right time, Sunday possesses the biggest test for the Goan defence, led by Mourtada Fall. Although the 2015 finallists may possess a stronger bench depth as compared to their counterparts, Cuadrat has smartly managed the workload of his key personnel towards the end of the season, which could have a telling impact in the final.
As for Lobera, Bengaluru are already favourites for the final. “I think after 180 minutes, whoever is in the final is because they deserve to be there,” the Spaniard said.
“Both teams have done well all through the season and in the final, we can show the supporters a great show and hopefully we can bring back the trophy. To be honest I am a very ambitious coach. I am still to recover from the [reverses] two games against Bengaluru and wanted to face them in the final. I consider Bengaluru as the favourite,” he added.