As we embark upon a brand new season of the ISL, Goal takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each team in their hunt for the trophy. In this piece, we analyse last year's runners-up Bengaluru FC.
Spaniard Carles Cuadrat, who worked as an understudy to Albert Roca, has been appointed as the head coach after Roca chose not to extend his contract with Bengaluru. This will be Cuadrat's first-ever assignment as a head coach of a club. Cuadrat has tweaked Roca's tactics a bit as we saw during the pre-season and AFC Cup. He prefers a 4-4-2 formation with Sunil Chhetri and Miku upfront. After many years, Chhetri will play in a front two and it will be interesting to see how the 34-year-old performs there.
Indian players: Soram Poirei, Rino Anto, Asheer Akhtar, Gursimrat Gill, Sairuat Kima, Kean Lewis
Foreign players: Albert Serran, Xisco Hernandez, Chencho Gyeltshen.
The Blues have signed three new foreigners this season. Two most notable signings among them are Spanish midfielder Xisco Hernandez and Bhutanese winger Chencho Gyeltshen. Xisco, a former Mallorca player is expected to fill in the void which was left by Edu Garcia from last season. Chencho was arguably the best foreign player in the I-League last year. He played a crucial role in Minerva Punjab's title-winning campaign.
In the domestic players' department, Bengaluru have recruited Kean Lewis who is expected to give depth to their attack. They have promoted a few young players from the reserves side this time.
Strength & Weakness:
The strike force of Bengaluru is one of the best in the league this year. With Miku, Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh supplemented by Chencho, Thongkhosiem Haokip and Kean Lewis, the attack looks formidable.
Bengaluru's goalkeeping department is definitely their weak link. The Blues do not have a proper backup to Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. They have bought Soram Poirei and Aditya Patra this season. While Poirei was a third choice keeper in Mohun Bagan in the first half of last season, Patra is a young custodian who has no experience of playing in the I-League or the ISL.
They also do not have a proper backup at left-back to Nishu Kumar who also is yet to make the position his own. Also, they lack an experienced Indian midfielder apart from Harmanjot Khabra who is primarily deployed as a right-back.
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Soram Poirei Anganba, Aditya Patra (U21)
Defenders: Rahul Bheke, Albert Serran, Sairuat Kima, Juanan Gonzalez, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Rino Anto, Nishu Kumar, Asheer Akhtar, Gursimrat Singh Gill
Midfielders: Erik Paartalu, Kean Francis Lewis, Dimas Delgado, Bidyananda Singh, Boithang Haokip, Francisco ‘Xisco’ Hernandez, Ajay Chhetri (U21), Altamash Sayed
Forwards: Nicolas Ladislao Fedor ‘Miku’, Sunil Chhetri, Thongkhosiem Haokip, Udanta Singh, Chencho Gyeltshen.