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ISL 2019-20: Have new signings made Bengaluru FC's attack the best in the league?

12:40 PM MYT 17/10/2019
Raphael Augusto
Ashique Kuruniyan and Raphael Augusto have joined Bengaluru FC for the sixth season of ISL...

Back in the 2017-18 season of the Indian Super League (ISL), Sunil Chhetri and Miku together contributed 29 out of 40 goals scored by Bengaluru FC. Last season, the duo, along with Udanta Singh, scored 19 goals out of a club total of 34. And yet in both seasons, FC Goa pipped them in scoring the most number of goals. 

While FC Goa and Bengaluru FC have both established themselves as sides playing attacking football, the Gaurs have been the more lethal in front of goal. Sergio Lobera's team has, at times, looked unstoppable in the attacking third and their attack has been very efficient in the last two years. 

Bengaluru still beat them to the title last season due to an all-round, balanced display under Carles Cuadrat. However, there were times when the attack, partly due to injuries and suspensions, looked ineffective and struggled against organized defences. This resulted in quite a few drab displays, which was in stark contrast to how the Blues performed under Albert Roca during the 2017-18 season. 

The Blues might have gone all the way but Cuadrat has recognized the areas that need improvement and the club has spent wisely in the transfer market to ensure that they defend their title. Two key signings they have made this season are Kerala-born Ashique Kuruniyan and Brazilian star Raphael Augusto. 

Ashique has already nailed a spot in Igor Stimac's India national team and has looked impressive on the wings. Like Udanta Singh, he is pacy and tricky to handle for opponents and has a skill set that allows him to beat his marker at will. 

The 22-year-old was a crucial player at his former club FC Pune City, where he started off as a left-winger and then went on to feature in a left wing-back role as well. In both positions, his pace, trickery and well-timed runs into space helped the Stallions to create key chances in the attacking third. If you're into numbers, he had three goals and four assists in the last two seasons but the numbers don't do justice to his performances for the team and his ability to carve through defences. 

Another player who loves to take the mickey out of defenders is Raphael Augusto. The Brazilian attacking midfielder was a fan-favourite at Chennaiyin for good reason. He is the kind of player that Bengaluru's attack has lacked as he adds a different dimension to how Cuadrat's team can build attacks and break organized backlines. The 28-year-old has played 62 matches in ISL, has 12 goal contributions and the know-how on building attacks from midfield. He was pivotal for Chennaiyin and was often the man entrusted with breaking down opposition lines. 

Bengaluru already has a well-set midfield in Dimas Delgado and Erik Paartalu. They also have another option in Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who at his best, is one of the few Indian midfielders who have the ability to dictate the game from midfield. Add Ashique's versatility and Augusto's flair to the mix and they have the recipe to take on the best defences in ISL.

The only area of concern for Bengaluru is that they have only one foreign striker in Manuel Onwu but they will hope that Sunil Chhetri can fill that gap.