Blues take on Blasters as charge for playoff spot continues

Marco Pezzaiuoli Dismisses Talk Of Advantage As Bengaluru FC Look To Close Gap On Top Four

Bengaluru FC Head Coach Marco Pezzaiuoli said that neither side would be at an advantage when they face Kerala Blasters at the Tilak Maidan, in Vasco, on Sunday. While the Blues come off the back of a 3-0 win against Chennaiyin FC just three days ago, Ivan Vukomanovic’s Blasters side have not played a game in 18 days, with their last result being a 2-0 win over Odisha FC over a fortnight ago.

“There’s several ways of looking at this, because it’s not just about football or tactics. Sometimes it becomes about the condition of the players we have available to us. When you look at it like that, Kerala have trained for a few days while we have played a match just three days ago so I don’t believe either team has an advantage going into Sunday’s match,” Pezzaiuoli said, speaking to the media on Saturday.

With 17 points from 13 games, the Blues find themselves in sixth place on the Indian Super League table (ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan’s clash against SC East Bengal on Saturday), three points adrift of Kerala Blasters, who have played two games fewer. Pezzaiuoli’s side are unbeaten in seven games, while the Blasters are unbeaten in 10 matches.

“Kerala are a team that like to press high and usually play in a 4-4-2. With Luna and Khabra in the wide positions, they create an overload in midfield which is something we will have to be wary of. They are a very flexible team, and have gotten better as the season progressed,” Marco said of Sunday’s opponents.

Bengaluru will be buoyed by the return of midfielder Danish Farooq, who served his one-match suspension against Chennaiyin FC after picking up a fourth yellow card of the season, and Pezzaiuoli provided a further injury update.

“We have a few players who are out of quarantine now – Gurpreet and Sarthak among them – who will be able to join us for training. Leon and King remain unavailable because of their long-term injuries, while Ajay will need time to get back to full fitness as he has not trained for an extended period.”

The Blues played out a 1-1 draw in the reverse of Sunday’s fixture, with a late own goal from Ashique Kuruniyan cancelling out a strike from the winger himself at the other end. “I was unhappy about the game against Blasters earlier this season, because we conceded a late goal and dropped two points. We need to focus on our game and try to be stronger than Kerala. We have a good squad and when we play our style of football, we have a very good chance of winning,” Pezzaiuoli added.

Kick-off between Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters is scheduled to take place at the Tilak Maidan, in Vasco, at 7.30 pm on Sunday, and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Disney+Hotstar, and JioTV.