The honours were shared between FC Pune City and Bengaluru FC in the first leg of the semifinals as both sides played out a goalless draw in Pune. Interestingly, this was an entertaining 0-0 game which is a rarity in the world of football.
Both the sides started the game on a nervous note and were not ready to take many risks or commit more men forward in order to break the deadlock. In other words, this can be summed up as a typical knockout (first leg) performance from the two sides who were afraid to make a mistake and hand over the advantage to the opposition.
In the post-match press conference, both Ranko Popovic and Albert Roca were satisfied with the performance of their respective sides and commended each other on a tough and competitive encounter. Both Pune and Bengaluru lacked a cutting edge and composure in the final third which inarguably makes a draw fair result for both the teams.
Popovic reflected on the game, "It was an interesting 0-0 game. Both sides tried hard and at the end, football won. It was a smart game from our opponents as well as both the teams were too careful not to make a mistake." Meanwhile, Roca said that the match was balanced on all fronts and no team had total control over the game.
The BFC gaffer also said that the tie is still in their hands which can also be as the biggest advantage for the visiting side from the first leg. Roca admitted that there was some panic in his camp during the first quarter of the game but praised his side for getting rid of the early jitters.
FC Pune City made some tactical changes in this game with Adil Khan changing his position from central midfield to right back and Rohit Kumar taking up his place in the centre of the park.
Popovic revealed that this change was made to offer more protection to the backline against the likes of Sunil Chhetri and Miku. The decision to play Adil proved to be spot on as the experienced and versatile Adil Khan kept the BFC and India captain in check during the entire game.
The second leg will now be played at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. There is all to play for as both the sides will look to enter their first ever grand finale of the Indian Super League. But it can be incurred that shutting down the league leaders and not conceding a crucial away goal has tilted this tie slightly in favour of Marcelinho and company.