Indian Super League: How should Bengaluru FC lineup against Kerala Blasters for the big ISL showdown?
The Indian Super League will resume on Saturday with Bengaluru FC hosting Kerala Blasters in the South Indian derby
In terms of fan rivalries, it doesn't get bigger than Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters FC in the Indian Super League -- often dubbed as the South Indian derby. While on field successes don't match -- Bengaluru FC have a better track record, winning almost one title per year in their six years of existence while Kerala Blasters are yet to win a major title -- the two clubs have perhaps the largest fan groups for ISL clubs in India which has led to a rivalry. There is also a big presence of Malayalis in Bengaluru which has added to the fan wars between the clubs.
The West Block Blues (Bengaluru's fan group) and the Manjappada (Kerala's group) will once again go head to head when the Blasters travel to Bengaluru for the Indian Super League clash on Saturday. The defending champions will be expected to beat a depleted Blasters side but coach Carles Caudrat has a selection conundrum with the majority of his Indian players returning from hectic international duties.
Six Bengaluru players -- Sunil Chhetri, Ashique Kuruniyan, Udanta Singh, Rahul Bheke, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Nishu Kumar -- were part of the Indian national team that travelled to Tajikistan and Oman for World Cup Qualifiers. All the players, barring Nishu Kumar, made appearances in both the matches which means Cuadrat will now have to assess their fitness before taking the final call.
Albert Serran has been recovering from a muscle injury he picked up in Bengaluru FC's outing against Jamshedpur FC though Erik Paartalu's return to the midfield will come as a big blessing for the champions. It will be interesting to see how Bengaluru approach against a makeshift Kerala defence that has been plagued with injuries. Both their foreign centrebacks Jairo Rodrigues and Gianni Zuiverloon are out, while Indian centre-back Sandesh Jhingan is still recovering from a ligament tear.
Bengaluru's foreign striker Manuel Onwu has struggled to impress in his outings but might fancy a go at this Kerala defence. Cuadrat also has the option of playing Ashique Kuruniyan up front along with Udanta and Chhetri in an all-Indian attack. The thin Kerala squad also gives Cuadrat an option to experiment with his team a little. Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Kean Lewis and Rinto Anto, all established players, will all be eager for an opportunity to impress the coach.
Time for you to channel your inner Cuadrat and pick the Bengaluru side likely to start against Kerala Blasters.