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ISL 2019-20: Time for new combinations in the Bengaluru FC attack?

1:32 PM MYT 04/11/2019
Bengaluru vs NorthEast United
The defending champions have scored just one goal in three games, despite facing no shortage in quality chances ...

Three games, three draws. Indian Super League’s defending champions Bengaluru FC have not gotten off to the best of starts this season. Their pursuit for three points at The Furnace did not come to fruition, with Subrata Paul putting in an immense shift between the sticks for the hosts.

However, unlike their previous draws this season, this one was rich in quality goal-scoring chances. Manuel Onwu and Ashique Kuruniyan were through on goal on separate occasions, an unmarked Juanan Gonzalez could not direct his header at the back of the net and Raphael Augusto was also guilty of missing a free header.

While due credit must be given to Subrata, who made seven saves on the night, the lack of flair in Bengaluru’s attack must not be ignored. The attackers did very little justice to the service they were provided with.

New arrival Onwu is yet to show any signs of adapting to the new league. His positioning has been suspect and has been guilty of getting is easily muscled away by the opposition. His best moment of the season so far arrived against FC Goa when he provided the assist for Udanta Singh’s goal. But there is still a long way to go before he generates fear in the hearts of the opposition defenders, something former Bengaluru striker Miku achieved effortlessly.

Replacing the Venezuelan striker was, by no means, a one-person job. Chhetri, Udanta and Ashique have offered very little assistance in the goal-scoring department. While the latter is tactically bound and is hence not a regular figure in the opposition third, the other India internationals should have done better in easing the side’s transition to the post-Miku era.

The defending champions entered the season without Miku in the attack, injuries to Erik Paartalu and Albert Serran in midfield and defence, respectively. All departments were hence presented with a challenging task.

While the cracks in defence have surfaced at times, Juanan has done a great job in ensuring the team did not suffer much in the absence of his regular partner.

In midfield, Dimas Delgado has had to resort to a deeper and more conservative role, while Raphael Augusto has assumed a free role. The Brazilian has fit in perfectly and has been their best player this season. In his own way, he has ensured Bengaluru have not missed Paartalu much. In fact, it would not be a stretch to claim that Bengaluru won the midfield battle in each of their last three games.

The problem clearly lies in the attack. Carles Cuadrat has tried the same combination in the last three games but there are very little signs of this front-line clicking. Is the answer on the bench in the form of Kean Lewis? Or is it on the field in the form of a defensively chained Ashique? It's time the Spanish manager looks for more options before Bengaluru approach the last resort of the transfer market.