The convincing performance and the three points will allow East Bengal to start the second phase of the league on a positive note …
Seven days, three games and seven points. East Bengal have indeed come a long way since their dismal start to the season and now look formidable with every game that passes.
With the victory against Bengaluru FC, East Bengal ended the first phase of the Indian Super League (ISL) on a high note. They started the season with a winless streak in five straight games, but in the last five games the Rouge et Or have gone unbeaten, have nine points and are just five points from play-offs.
The Kolkata side came into the game after a convincing performance against FC Goa and faced a demoralized Bengaluru side who have lost their last three games and recently parted ways with their head coach Carles Cuadrat.
East Bengal started the game on a brighter note and dominated Bengaluru in the first half. Anthony Pilkington has been ruled out of today’s squad again as he is still healing an injury. But the Harmanpreet Singh, Jacques Maghoma and Bright Enobakhare trio made sure that the former Norwich forward was not missed.
Enobakhare, who headed towards ISL effectively, was seen constantly breaking into midfield to take the ball and dictate the game. He was ably supported by Jacques Maghoma whose towering figure and ability to control the ball. balloon prove to be extremely beneficial for the side.
100% – @sc_eastbengal player @ Jmags19 recorded 100% passing accuracy in the opposing half (17) against #BFC; he now has the best passing accuracy (85%) this season for a player who has made a minimum of 150 passes in the opposing half of the field. Decisive. #BFCSCEB #HeroISL pic.twitter.com/OOvEhJV8hL
– OptaJeev (@OptaJeev) January 9, 2021
The five-man defense that started the game against FC Goa has remained unchanged and they once again delivered against the Blues. Ahead of the game, East Bengal were spurred on by the Indian Football Association’s (AIFF) decision to reverse skipper Daniel Fox’s red card and revoke his suspension. Under Fox’s guidance, the bottom line is improving.
East Bengal is changing gears and reaching its peak at the right time of the season. Their offense looks formidable since Enobakhare joined the squad and with Pilkington joining the squad soon, it could become a powerful force.
As the Reds and Golds slowly witness a change in fortunes midway through the season, the Blues’ misery continued. Bengaluru suffered his fourth trotting loss, which he experienced for the first time in the club’s brief history.
seven – @bengalurufc have now conceded in their last seven #ISL Games; they have also lost four consecutive games. These two streaks are the longest in the history of the club. Odd. #BFCSCEB #HeroISL #LetsFootball https://t.co/UeXaeWZLYW
– OptaJeev (@OptaJeev) January 9, 2021
The South Indian club played mostly scoreless in the first half and struggled. Interim coach Naushad Moosa had decided to bench their two forwards Kristian Opseth and Deshorn Brown and deploy Cleiton Silva as the sole striker, but the Brazilian didn’t have the same impact and spent more on the ground.
In the second half, the Blues showed some desire but were toothless in the last third. Plus, a few top-notch saves from Debjit Majumder on goal made things worse for them. It should be noted that East Bengal, playing their third game in seven games, decided to sit down and play on the clock, which was one of the reasons Bengaluru could attack at will. In fact, East Bengal had plenty of chances on the clock and Enobakhare could very well have pulled off a hat-trick that night which showed how good Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was and how poor the defense was.
Although Bengaluru FC are happy with their attacking intentions in the second half, there is still a lot to do. Five of their next six games are against teams that are placed below them on the table. This should make it easier for Moosa, who has promised an entertaining football brand.
However, an entertaining brand of football always comes with defensive compactness, which was lacking throughout the game against East Bengal. Against an opponent, whose attackers are in good shape, this Bengaluru defense can certainly concede a lot more, if not for the presence of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.