ISL 2022-23: Rivals Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC lock horns in the fight for sixth place
A lot more than three points will be at stake when neighbours and rivals Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC clash to keep their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) playoff hopes alive on Saturday.
When neighbouring and rival teams Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC square off on Saturday, keeping their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 playoff aspirations alive will be much more than just three points on the line.
The Blues have played one more game but are only three points behind sixth place. The Marina Machans are five points away from Odisha FC's current position in the final playoff slot.
Bengaluru FC has the advantage of momentum going into this vital matchup, as they have won their last three Hero ISL games. The Blues defeated Jamshedpur FC last week with a 3-0 victory. Bengaluru FC has doubled their season goal total in their previous three games, scoring eight goals while only giving up two.
The return to form of Roy Krishna, the team's standout attacker, will please head coach Simon Grayson. The Fijian has four goals this year, including two in Bengaluru FC's previous two Hero ISL matches.
"It is a really important game for both teams. The matches on this weekend and next weekend will be vital and will shape the way the league finishes. All we can do is try and control what we can control and that is the game and our performance," said Grayson. "We go into this game with a lot of confidence after winning three games on the trot. We will play with confidence, not arrogance," he added.
After last week's scoreless draw with ATK Mohun Bagan, Chennaiyin FC's winless run in the Hero ISL had grown to five games. Nevertheless, the Marina Machans have only lost one of these five games while drawing the other four. In the opposite matchup near the beginning of the season, the results were split following a 1-1 tie.
Last week, Petar Sliskovic went four games without scoring for the first time. With eight goals in 14 appearances, the Croatian is Chennaiyin FC's leading scorer this campaign. In seven of the last ten Hero ISL games, he scored all eight goals.
Head coach Thomas Brdaric will be hoping to have Abdenasser El Khayati on the bench. The Dutchman has missed the last four games because of a hamstring injury but returned to training last week and could be on the bench against Bengaluru FC.
“I am looking forward to the match against Bengaluru FC. We analysed the game and showed all players the approach and how we have to play,” said Brdaric. “We don’t know if Nasser [El Khayati] will be a part of the squad for this match. We still have two training sessions left and after those sessions, we will decide if we want to include him in the squad or not,” he added.
This will be the 13th Hero ISL meeting between the two rivals. In the previous encounters, the Blues have won six matches, while the Marina Machans have won thrice, including the Hero ISL 2017-18 Final.