The Indian Super League 2019 has arrived at its final showdown and fittingly, it is Bengaluru FC and FC Goa facing off for the title. Bengaluru FC, playing their second consecutive final, had finished top of the table while Goa, despite equalling Bengaluru on points-tally, were second only due to their inferior head-to-head record. For Bengaluru, who lost the final last year to Chennaiyin FC, the contest is a shot at redemption and for their opponents, it is a chance at creating history.
Bengaluru have been the team to beat since their inclusion in the ISL. In their first year, they left the rest of the teams gasping in their wake to emerge as table toppers with an eight-point lead ahead of the second-placed Chennaiyin FC. That the Blues lost the final at home to Chennaiyin is a different story, but the runaway leaders have scripted a similar story in the league this year.
There is something about Bengaluru and their thirst for success that brings the team together in difficult situations. An example of the same was visible in the second leg of their semifinal against NorthEast United FC. They were trailing 2-1 at the start of the match which was played at the Shree Kanteerva stadium. Miku, Dimas Delgado and Sunil Chhetri scored a goal each in the second half of the match and overturned the deficit. “Now we have just one job and that is to win the final. The final will be really tough. Goa are a wonderful team,” said Bengaluru coach Carles Cuadrat.
Bengaluru topped the round robin stage yet again and will enter the final as the favourites to win the title. Apart from the likes of Miku and Dimas, the side is highly dependent on their Indian contingent. Sunil Chhetri with nine goals to his name is the leading goalscorer in the tournament. Udanta Singh, Harmanjot Khabra and Rahul Bheke have all caught the eye this season and will be expected to make important contributions in the summit clash.
Making their second appearance in a final, Goa were not too far behind Bengaluru FC. Goa, however, do not have a great record against Bengaluru, losing three of their four matches in the last two seasons. Their only win came in a close contest clash last season, when Bengaluru were down to ten men with keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu sent off.
Goa coach Sergio Lobera knows that their opponents are the favourites, but he feels that the final will be different than the league matches the two teams have played in the past two years. “If you look only at the two losses against them then, Bengaluru are the favourites. We are going to approach this final with nothing less than a fight. I believe the final will be completely different than the two league games we have had already,” said Lobera.
Goa have banked on the partnership of Ferran Corominas and Edu Bedia, with the pair accounting for a combined 23 goals and 12 assists. Behind them stands Ahmed Jahouh. The Moroccan has been prolific with his energetic running as well as tackling while Mourtada Fall has contributed to Goa’s impressive defensive record.
With Goa’s gifted attackers in Corominas and Bedia and a strong presence down the middle, they would hope to hand Bengaluru their second successive defeat in a final.