The two sides are having contrasting seasons so far in the ISL.
Kerala Blasters will be desperate to get back in action in their home ground and continue their dream run when they take on a resurgent Bengaluru FC in the 2022-23 Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium on Sunday.
The Blasters last played on December 4, recording a 0-1 win over last season’s Shield winners Jamshedpur FC. For the first time in their history, the men in yellow are on a consecutive four-game winning run. Moreover, they have 15 points from eight matches and sit fifth in the points table.
On the other hand, Bengaluru FC have been borderline on the fringes of mediocrity in recent times and will be desperate to find an outlet that can bring back relevance to their game.
A win will take the Blasters to the same number of points as Odisha FC who have a meagre one-goal difference. But for Ivan Vukomanovic’s side, the disadvantage is that they will be playing one match more than the Kalinga Warriors which in return will make his team’s spot in the top five a temporary one.
The biggest advantage for Kerala Blasters is their current sizzling form in the ISL. They are unbeaten for the past four matches (all wins) and their Greek stalwart Dimitrios Diamantakos has scored in all four of them.
At present, Bengaluru FC is one of the most struggling teams in the competition. The Blues couldn’t recreate the same vibe in the ISL after getting crowned as the champions of the prestigious Durand Cup tournament a few months back. They are currently having a major crisis up front with their star striker Roy Krishna and iconic Sunil Chhetri underperforming for the team. Meanwhile, their new recruit and former Blasters defender Sandesh Jhingan is yet to establish himself in the backline.
In their previous duel, Bengaluru FC lost to ATK Mohun Bagan by a 1-0 scoreline and are in ninth place with seven points to their name. In tomorrow’s duel, head coach Simon Grayson will be aiming to break their opponents’ unbeaten streak, thereby finding momentum back to the league.
Kerala Blasters boast of a fully fit squad ahead of the southern clash. No major injury concerns are there in the base for Ivan Vukamanovic’s side.
Bengaluru FC are facing an injury crisis in their striking department with Prince Ibara ruled out from the league. The new recruit Pablo Perez has started training with the team but the player making an entry into the starting XI is highly questionable. The Indian forward Sivasakthi Narayanan has regained fitness and is match ready for the Blues.
Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC have met on 10 different occasions in the ISL.
Played – 10
Kerala Blasters – 2
Bengaluru FC – 6
Drawn – 2
Kerala Blasters (4-4-2)
Prabhsukhan Singh Gill (GK), Sandeep Singh, Hormipam Ruivah, Marko Leskovic, Nishu Kumar, Rahul KP, Jeakson Singh, Ivan Kaliuzhnyi, Sahal Abdul Samad, Adrian Luna, Dimitrios Diamantakos
Bengaluru FC (4-3-3)
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Prabir Das, Sandesh Jhingan, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Namgyal Bhutia, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Javi Hernandez, Danish Farooq, Udanta Singh, Roy Krishna, Naorem Roshan Singh
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Dimitrios Diamantakos (Courtesy: ISL Media)
Initially, Diamantakos found difficulty in adjusting to the rhythm of the league and couldn’t score much in the first four matches with many fans and pundits questioning his potential. But he turned the tide with a brilliant set of performances in the following games.
Currently, Diamantakos is a diamond-valued player for Kerala Blasters. The Greek forward is in sizzling form and also a Golden Boot contender with four goals in the past four matches. Having filled the boots of Alvaro Vazquez, Diamantakos has become an established presence and a terror for opposition defenders.
Pablo Perez (Courtesy: BFC Media)
BFC have recently signed Spanish midfielder Pablo Perez on a deal that runs till the end of the season. The Spaniard has arrived at the base and started training with the team as well.
With the former Congolese forward Prince Ibara getting ruled out of the league, Pablo Perez is the last relay station for Simon Grayson. The Spaniard most probably, will not start for the Blues against KBFC. But he may come in as a substitute in the second half. His outing in the middle and the final third will be crucial for the team and his performance will be closely monitored by fans and critics alike.
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Did You Know?
Kerala Blasters are currently on a consecutive four-match unbeaten streak and their Greek striker Dimitrios Diamantakos had consecutively scored in all four matches.
The Uruguayan captain Adrian Luna is the most capped foreign player for Kerala Blasters with 28 appearances.
Despite being in ISL for many years, Bengaluru FC are yet to bring up a Karnataka local talent into the mainstream ISL tournament.
The match between Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC will take place at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium on December 11th (Sunday). The kick-off time is 7:30 pm IST. The game will be telecasted live on the Star Sports Network. Disney+HotStar and JioTV will also stream the match.
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