ISL 2019-20: 5 concerns Bengaluru FC faced during their campaign
- Here are the issues faced by the Blues during the last season where they made the playoffs but were not at their usual best.
The Bengaluru Football Club is one of the most successful clubs in India. The accolades the club has collected in its short span of existence include 1 ISL title, 2 I-League titles, 2 Federation Cups, 1 Super Cup and the most impressive of the lot, runners-up in the 2016 AFC Cup. Unfortunately, the club has been very ordinary by its standards this season, ending third in the league phase and losing to ATK FC in an all-important semi-final despite having a one-goal advantage courtesy of Deshorn Brown's goal in the home leg. The Blues crashed out of the playoffs, not making it to the finals for the first time in their history in the Indian Super League after making it to the ultimate clash on each of the last two occasions.
Let us investigate the 5 concerns Bengaluru FC faced during their 19-20 campaign in depth.
#1. No Lethal No. 9
Bengaluru FC had been a potent threat in the final third due to their Venezuelan striker, Miku last season. He scored an impressive tally of 20 goals in 32 appearances. Unfortunately, the Blues could not renew the services of their talisman due to his demand in the market.
The Blues bought Manuel Onwu from a Spanish III Division(Segunda División B) side, Murcia FC, in the hope that he will do what Miku did for them. This wasn't the case though, as Onwu never scored for them in his 6 appearances. He was sent on loan to Odisha FC until the end of the season.
BFC then signed the Jamaican duo of Deshorn Brown and Kevaughn Frater in the January transfer window to strengthen their attack. Neither of them seemed like a potential threat in front of goal, with Frater's miss in the 75th minute costing them a place in their third consecutive final.
The Blues must recruit a better striker to stand a chance in their 2020-21 campaign, with a Champions League spot up for grabs.
#2. No attacking midfielder for a large part of the season
Bengaluru FC has always relied on quality attacking midfielders to create chances and thread through balls that the wingers can feed on. However, this season has been a different story. Bengaluru FC recruited Brazilian midfield maestro Raphael Augusto, from rival club Chennaiyin FC. He played 9 games for the Blues, averaging 44 passes a game, creating several chances which the Blues could not capitalize on.
Raphael's technical brilliance was entertaining to all fans and he could have had 4-5 goals to his name, had he finished the chances he got. He played his last game of the season against ATK, playing as a defensive midfielder with the game ending 1-0 to ATK, courtesy David Williams' spectacular goal. It was disappointing to see the Blues not having a single shot on target during the game.
After Raphael's injury, the Blues could not create too many chances from the midfield as they did not have a genuine CAM. It would be fair to say, Bengaluru's attack would have fared significantly better from open play, had Rapha remained fit throughout the season.
#3 Style of play
Bengaluru FC is a team known to play an attacking brand of football, keeping possession of the ball in the opponent's half. They do this in an attempt to find a passing option that will open up the opponent's defense. Most teams resort to counter-attacks against the Blues since they commit men forward creating space in-behind that the opponents can exploit.
Due to several reasons, BFC this season, began playing a counter-attacking style of play themselves, similar to that of Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid, where they defend with numbers and break on the counter when the team in possession losses the ball. The Blues began resorting to this style of play as they lacked a CAM who will hold the ball in the middle and the forwards they recruited this season, thrive on space in-behind the defense. For this, the opponent must keep a high line of defense, only possible when the opponent has better possession than BFC.
BFC, under gaffer Carles Cudrat, has managed to use this style of play to carve out results against teams that like to keep the ball - FC Goa, Jamshedpur FC, and Odisha FC. Though this style of play can get results, it is not something that the fans appreciate, especially at a club of BFC's stature and may have led to their exit in the end.