The convincing performance and the three points will help East Bengal start the second phase of the league on a positive note…
Seven days, three matches and seven points. East Bengal have indeed come a long way since their dismal start to the season and are now looking formidable with each passing game.
With the win over Bengaluru FC, East Bengal ended the first phase of the Indian Super League (ISL) on a high. They started the season with a winless run in five consecutive matches but in the last five games, the Red and Golds have remained unbeaten, collected nine points and are just five points off the play-offs spot.
The Kolkata side came into the match after a convincing performance against FC Goa and were up against a demoralised Bengaluru side who lost their last three games and had recently parted ways with their head coach Carles Cuadrat.
East Bengal started the match on a brighter note and dominated Bengaluru in the first half. Anthony Pilkington was once again kept out of the matchday squad as he is still nursing an injury. But the trio of Harmanpreet Singh, Jacques Maghoma and Bright Enobakhare upfront made sure that the former Norwich attacker was not missed.
Enobakhare, who has taken to the ISL in an efficient manner, was seen constantly coming deep into the midfield to take the ball and dictate play. He was ably supported by Jacques Maghoma whose towering figure and ability to control the ball is proving to be extremely beneficial to the side.
100% – @sc_eastbengal player @Jmags19 registered a 100% passing accuracy in opposition half (17) against #BFC; he now has the best passing accuracy (85%) in this season for a player to have completed a minimum of 150 passes in the opposition half. Decisive. #BFCSCEB #HeroISL pic.twitter.com/OOvEhJV8hL
— OptaJeev (@OptaJeev) January 9, 2021
The five-man defence which started the game against FC Goa was kept unaltered and they delivered yet again against the Blues. Ahead of the match, East Bengal was handed a boost by the All Indian Football Federation’s (AIFF) decision of cancelling skipper Daniel Fox’s red card and scrapping his suspension. Under the leadership of Fox, the backline is improving.
East Bengal are changing gears and are peaking at the right time of the season. Their attack looks formidable since Enobakhare joined the team and with Pilkington joining the squad soon, it could become a potent force.
While the Red and Golds are slowly witnessing a change in their fortunes midway into the season, the Blues’ misery continued. Bengaluru suffered their fourth defeat on the trot, something they experienced for the first time in the brief history of the club.
7 – @bengalurufc have now conceded in their last seven #ISL games; they have also lost four consecutive games. Both these streaks are the longest in the club’s history. Odd. #BFCSCEB #HeroISL #LetsFootball https://t.co/UeXaeWZLYW
— OptaJeev (@OptaJeev) January 9, 2021
The South Indian club mostly played without purpose in the first half and struggled. Interim coach Naushad Moosa had decided to bench both their strikers Kristian Opseth and Deshorn Brown and deploy Cleiton Silva as the lone striker but the Brazilian did not have the same impact and spent more on the floor.
In the second half, the Blues showed some urge but were toothless in the final third. Also, some top notch saves by Debjit Majumder in goal made things worse for them. It must be noted that East Bengal, playing their third match in seven games, decided to sit back and play on the counter which was one of the reasons Bengaluru could attack at will. In fact, East Bengal had plenty of chances on the counter and Enobakhare could very well have had a hat-trick on the night which showed how good Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was and how poor the defence was.
While Bengaluru FC will take heart from their attacking intent in the second half, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Five out of their next six matches are against teams who are placed below them on the table. This should make the going easy for Moosa, who has promised an entertaining brand of football.
However, entertaining brand of football always implies being defensively compact, something which was missing throughout the game against East Bengal. Against an opponent, whose strikers are in good form, this Bengaluru defence can certainly concede much more, if not for the presence of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.