Hyderabad FC host defending ISL champions Bengaluru FC on Friday, as they look to arrest a grim start that has seen them lose four of their opening five matches. Phil Brown's side were on the wrong end of a heartbreaker on Monday, when Chennaiyin FC snatched a 2-1 victory in which all goals came in stoppage time at the end of the second half.
Things don't get any easier for Brown and Hyderabad, as the defending champions come to town, and in a much happier state than they were three weeks ago. After three draws to begin their season, Bengaluru have had lift-off, with 3-0 and 1-0 wins over Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters respectively.
The big positive for Carles Cuadrat has been the dominance exhibited by his midfield in the last two games, with Erik Paartalu's return being instrumental. Sunil Chhetri also has found the net in both the wins, after going through a drought in the opening three games. So, it is going to be a tough grind for Hyderabad to keep Bengaluru at bay in this one.
Bengaluru FC v Kerala Blasters FC: Match Information
Date: 29th November 2019
Kickoff: 7:30 PM IST
Live Stream: Star Sports Network and Hotstar
Venue: GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium, Gachibowli, Hyderabad
Bengaluru FC v Kerala Blasters FC: Team News
For Bengaluru, Rahul Bheke remains a doubt with a slight muscle problem that he picked up during the Indian National Team's World Cup qualifier in Oman, but with Albert Serran now fit, Carles Cuadrat can afford to not rush Bheke back. Serran would also not be troubled by his lack of pace against the likes of Bobo and Robin Singh, who aren't really the quickest strikers around.
Cuadrat also has no need to change things, with the Bengaluru machine seemingly fully revved up, after a slow start. Erik Paartalu's return has been huge, while the defence has been miserly, conceding only one penalty in five games, as Bengaluru remain the only side in the ISL to have not conceded from open play so far.
Hyderabad, on the other hand, have plenty of problems. Phil Brown is seemingly insistent on playing three at the back, but the lack of natural wing-backs in the team is a serious hindrance to the system. The likes of Adil Khan and Sahil Panwar could still be missing with injuries, as well, which have not helped Brown's cause at all.
Hyderabad FC v Bengaluru FC: Probable Lineups
Hyderabad FC: Kamaljit Singh, Gurtej Singh, Rafa Lopez, Matthew Kilgallon, Mohammad Yasir, Nikhil Poojary, Marko Stankovic, Rohit Kumar, Marcelinho, Bobo, Robin Singh
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Albert Serran, Juanan Gonzalez, Nishu Kumar, Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Raphael Augusto, Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Sunil Chhetri
Hyderabad FC v Bengaluru FC: ISL Form Guide
Hyderabad FC: L-L-W-L-L
Bengaluru FC: W-W-D-D-D
Hyderabad FC v Bengaluru FC Head-to-Head
This will be the first meeting between the two sides in the ISL, with Hyderabad a new entrant to the league this season.
Bengaluru hold the upper hand in their six games against Hyderabad's predecessors - FC Pune City - though, with the Blues never having lost to Pune, including in the ISL 2017-18 semifinal, when a Sunil Chhetri hat-trick inspired a 3-1 win at the Kanteerava after a goalless draw in Pune.
Bengaluru FC wins: 4
FC Pune City wins: 0
Hyderabad FC v Bengaluru FC Prediction
Bengaluru have just a hit good run of form with two solid victories over the other two South Indian teams in the ISL. Their midfield, in particular, has looked outstanding since the return of Erik Paartalu, and the big Aussie will once again be the base on which Bengaluru build.
Hyderabad, on the other hand, cannot seem to create enough from open play, and with the lack of serious pace in their rearguard, they could be in for a tough night against the likes of Udanta and Ashique.
Prediction: Hyderabad FC 0-2 Bengaluru FC