KICK-OFF: Dec. 13, 7.30PM IST [GMT +5.30], Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Channel; Streaming: Star Sports HD1, 1, 3; Hotstar, Jio TV.
Bengaluru FC will look to extend their lead at the top when they play host to ATK in their final game before the winter break for the AFC Asian Cup.
The Blues’ have seen a slight blip in their form with two consecutive draws against Mumbai City FC and Northeast United. They were lucky not to lose in those games and were second-best in both these matches.
Miku’s injury has meant the Bhutanese forward Chencho Gyeltshen and Sembi Haokip have been playing up front. The forwards are taking their time bedding in and Miku’s shoes are too big to fill in anyway.
Bengaluru have the best defence in the league and have conceded only eight goals this season. They did look a little jittery when the Mumbai front three took them on in the previous game, but the ATK attack should not trouble them too much with the Kolkata side managing only 10 goals from 11 games.
While ATK lack in offensive play with Manuel Lanzarote seemingly the only creator and goalscorer in chief, their defence has been rock solid this season.
John Johnson and Andre Bikey have formed a formidable partnership in the centre of defence and there is very little that goes past them. In their previous game against Northeast United, they completely negated some of the league’s best players in Bart Ogbeche and Federico Gallego.
Having lost the reverse fixture earlier this season, ATK haven’t lost a game since then. They’ve kept four clean sheets in their last five games going into tonight’s game and will be looking to shut Bengaluru down.
If they can hold fort at ‘The Fortress,’ they do have Manuel Lanzarote, Everton Santos and Jayesh Rane to help them to a goal and possibly all three points.
FULL-TIME: Bengaluru FC 1-0 ATK
37′ GOAL [Erik Paartalu, Header, Assist: Kean Lewis, Bengaluru FC]
Bengaluru FC stretched their lead on top of the table to six points after picking up a win against a profligate ATK side.
The Blues’ had only one shot on target tonight and they made it count. A Kean Lewis cross from the left flank in the 37th minute found Erik Paartalu in the box who scored with a great header past the keeper. A poor piece of marking by ATK resulted in the goal with both John Johnson and Andre Bikey either side of the Aussie midfielder, but could do nothing to stop the header.
Lanzarote was once again the key player for ATK and was the main creator especially from set pieces. However, ATK lacked the ability to finish off their chances and that hurt them dearly.
Balwant Singh got himself into great positions, but could not put the ball in the back of the net. The Indian international could’ve easily scored a brace (Top Shooters xG), but his terrible form in the league continues with a return of one goal from 11 games.
Bengaluru FC demonstrated their characteristic grit and determination to hold off ATK. Late in the game, they had a couple of good chances (Running Sum xG) to double their lead, but Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri’s efforts went wide off the mark.
With the win tonight, Bengaluru have seemingly recovered from their mini-slump of two consecutive drawn games. They go into the winter break unbeaten, six points clear on top and with Miku waiting on the other side of the break.