Bengaluru FC, since the commencement of their Hero Indian Super League journey back in 2017, have arguably been one of the most potent teams in the competition. In their two years of tenure in the league, the Sunil Chhetri-led side has a title as well as a runners-up medal to their name.
Defending a title, however, is no cakewalk. Despite tasting great success in the tournament’s short history, not even the likes of ATK and Chennaiyin FC (both two-times champions) have managed to achieve the feat. The Blues though are considered to be an exception.
Having the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Rahul Bheke and Udanta Singh amongst others sure make Carles Cuadrat’s side one of the most formidable units, but a closer look seems to draw a different conclusion whatsoever.
A recent 0-0 draw against NorthEast United in their opening game of the 2019-20 season well and truly underlined what the team actually lack and gave the Bengaluru fans a plethora of reasons to scratch their heads over the team’s title defence.
What has left the team stranded you ask?
First up, the departures of the likes of Miku Fedor and midfielder Xisco Hernandez hasn’t been taken well by the team. Miku, who had a great understanding with captain Chhetri, was one of the key players in the team’s success and his egress has made the team over reliant on Chhetri in terms of getting goals.
As seen against NorthEast, Bengaluru looked scattered. Lack of chemistry and understanding was clearly visible despite the likes of Manuel Onwu and Raphael Augusto both making it to the starting XI.
Brazilian Augusto might add a spark to the team, something they were devoid of after Xisco’s departure, but the lack of goal scorers means all that creativity is of no use. While for Onwu, this might be too early to judge the Spaniard, but he was struggling to make an impact against NorthEast.
The team sure boasts of a better depth on paper, but their resolution will be on test during the second half of the season thanks to their AFC commitments. That coupled with a relatively vulnerable defensive set-up doesn’t make things easy for the manager as well.
The likes of Nishu Kumar and Ashique Kuruniyan indeed seem like two exciting prospects, but the lack of top-level footballers means both Rahul Bheke and Juanan are at risk. Kumar, in particular, has attracted a lot of flak for the lack of defensive awareness. His offensive approach has indeed got the fans talking, but that outlook is set to make life difficult for the centre-backs in future. Just think of why Alberto Moreno failed to get a first-team place under Jurgen Klopp in Liverpool.
And now, it remains to be seen how the team copes up with all the diversions and issues at hand.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran