The game between Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters in the fifth round of 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) will give fans a picture of how good or bad their attackers have been this season. After four games, Blasters are winless whereas Bengaluru have only won one game. And both teams have issues in front of goal.
Carles Cuadrat’s Blues have been unbeaten this season and that has a lot to do with their defence. Sunil Chhetri, one of the stars in the team, has misfired, partially due to the lack of service or link-up play between the attackers.
The India international, who has 40 goals and eight assists to his name in the ISL, has struggled to influence matches like he usually has done over the last few years. He did however, get off the mark for the season with a penalty in the second half of the game against Chennaiyin FC.
Blasters also have a key player who has struggled in the final third and has one goal to his name from 12 yards. Gary Hooper was brought in as a replacement for the club’s all-time top scorer Bartholomew Ogbeche and it’s not been bright and sunny for the Englishman in Goa.
As the team takes its time to adapt to Kibu Vicuna’s style of play, Hooper has often looked isolated and lost in games. He is rarely involved in Blasters’ build-up play and is not found on the end of balls into the box – a conundrum that Vicuna has to solve quickly.
Vicuna is open to trying out a two-striker system and it won’t be something new for him. He used VP Suhair to good effect last season at Mohun Bagan with Papa Diawara upfront and fans could see something in the final third if Hooper’s luck in the final third doesn’t change. It will be interesting to see Hooper and Jordan Murray being handed a start on Sunday.
Chhetri and new signing Cleiton Silva have started every single game so far for the Blues but the attackers simply haven’t clicked as much as Cuadrat would have liked them to.
With fellow play-off aspirants starting to find their feet, these two teams need their attackers to rediscover their scoring boots. The sooner they can put them on, the better.