Indian Super League 2019-20: FC Goa eye top spot as they host Bengaluru FC at the Fatorda Stadium.
Goa: All eyes will be at the Fatorda stadium in Goa as defending champions Bengaluru FC resume hostilities with FC Goa, who they vanquished after a titanic tussle in last year’s final, on Monday.
The Gaurs and the Blues were the two best teams in the Indian Super League last year and put on a brilliant contest in the final, neither team giving an inch until Rahul Bheke popped up with the winning header a few minutes from the end of extra time.
While it was Bengaluru’s first-ever ISL title, the result was nothing short of heartbreak for FC Goa who lost their second ISL final in as many attempts.
“The loss in the final is in the past. I am very proud of my players who played in the final as they performed well. I hope in the next match we perform as good as we did in the final. We have to improve defending in set-pieces (Bheke scored from a corner),” said Goa head coach Sergio Lobera.
With the crux of their squad unchanged, Goa and Bengaluru could most possibly be the teams to beat as the new season rolls along. The teams are beacons of consistency and have set the bar high for the other ISL clubs.
“We know that Goa is always a big challenge because they have a wonderful team. They have been with the same team for a long time. It will be an interesting game. It is very early in the season and the points are important, but the season is still young,” said Bengaluru FC head coach Carles Cuadrat.
It is no wonder that the clash between the two clubs has assumed the top billing in ISL, given the quality of football both teams play.
Goa has already set an ominous tone after a 3-0 dismantling of Chennaiyin FC in their season opener.
Bengaluru, on the other hand, could only muster a goalless draw against NorthEast United FC in their season opener. However, considering the number of chances they created against the Highlanders, it is only a matter of time before they assume their imperious self.
However, the battle to watch out for will be the one between the Goa attack and the Bengaluru defence. Lobera’s team have the ability to score at will, with the kind of firepower they possess in the likes of all-time ISL topscorer Ferran Corominas, Edu Bedia, Hugo Boumous and Manvir Singh.
“I want to continue the improvement and the difference that was between Goa and Bengaluru two, three years ago, (has been diminished) as we have improved. For us, it is a big challenge as I think Bengaluru is the best team in the league,” said Lobera.
The hosts will have to be wary of not getting caught out on the break against a swift Bengaluru attack which will make the role of Ahmed Jahouh, returning to the side after suspension, all the more important.
As the two hotshots of the league spar on Monday, sparks will most certainly fly. Both Goa and Bengaluru will look to lay down the marker for the season with a statement win against a direct rival for the ultimate prize.