Unlike the other nine Indian Super League (ISL) teams, Bengaluru FC have to participate in the AFC Cup as well. Starting the game against Delhi Dynamos, the Blues play four matches in the space of 13 days, which includes three away games.
Albert Roca, like any sensible coach, was forced to rest a few players in order to keep them fresh for the upcoming fixtures. Looking at the games they were to play, bottom-placed Delhi Dynamos were the best bet where he could alter his line-up. In came Braulio Nobrega, Lenny Rodrigues and John Johnson and out went Erik Paartalu, Udanta Singh and Juanan.
What Bengaluru couldn’t foresee was a resurgent Dynamos side who pressed from the onset. They forced the reigning Federation Cup winners into errors and giving the ball away cheaply. Vinit Rai and Paulinho Dias controlled the proceedings in the middle of the park as neither Edu Garcia, Sunil Chhetri or Lenny Rodrigues came anywhere close to stopping their runners. Bengaluru lost the plot in the midfield as they couldn’t contain and have a sustained period of possession, something which is intricate to how they play under Roca.
The only saving grace for the visitors was a certain Dimas Delgado, who alongside Rahul Bheke and Harmanjot Khabra, were seen tackling the Delhi players and rightly so. Miku and Braulio weren’t given a chance to see more of the ball which to an extent nullified their threat.
Yes, Bengaluru did create a few chances. Khabra had one in the first half, Braulio’s shot from outside the box, which could be considered a half chance and a late header by Johnson. Apart from that, they failed to test Arnab Das Sharma in goal. The 30-year-old is arguably Delhi’s fourth choice custodian and failure to put him under pressure was something Bengaluru should rue.
On another day or if only they could finish their chances, Delhi would have won the game by a handsome margin. Lallianzuala Chhangte, Nandha Kumar, Romeo Fernandes and Jeroen Lumu were left unmarked on most occasions and allowed to run inside the box at will. The experienced Kalu Uche won almost every long ball sent towards him with Johnson coming second best.
In fact, in the goal scoring move, Lenny lost the ball in the opposition half and the subsequent clearance towards Uche saw the former Espanyol striker lay the ball for Paulinho Dias. The Brazilian spotted Pritam Kotal’s surge down the right and sent a through-ball. The right-back found Chhangte who slotted it past an advancing Gurpreet, who should have done better as the ball went under his hand.
Bheke, who had a fantastic game, was once again at fault for losing his man as Chhangte was allowed to get ahead inside the box. The 27-year-old has made errors which has cost his side important points this season – against FC Goa, Chennaiyin FC, Jamshedpur FC and now Delhi.
Delhi deserve the plaudits for the manner in which they took the game to Bengaluru FC. It’s time for them to not let this result be a flash in the pan and continue the momentum and to see where it takes them on the table.
For Bengaluru, they need not panic but certainly it’s a worrying sign as whenever the line-up sees a lot of changes, the JSW-owned club tend to falter. Expect Juanan, Paartalu and Udanta to comeback against Mumbai City FC.