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ISL 2020-21: Why Bengaluru FC are favorites to win the title

Bengaluru FC
Bengaluru FC
ANALYST
Modified 19 Oct 2020, 17:39 IST
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In the seven years that Bengaluru FC have been in existence, the club has strived for excellence. Having won the I-League in their first season, it seemed as though the club would reach heights not many in the country could. In fact, barring 2019-20, Bengaluru FC has won silverware in almost every season.

This included an impressive run in the 2016 edition of the AFC Cup, where the Blues lost out on silverware following a 1-0 loss in the final to Iraqi club Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya. Bengaluru FC joined the Indian Super League bandwagon in 2017. The second season witnessed the Blues become the first side in the history of the tournament to secure both the League winner's shield and the playoffs title.

The pursuit of excellence for Bengaluru FC has been unparalleled. There have been very few clubs in the ISL that have managed to churn out performances like Bengaluru FC has in the tournament. In fact, it is expected of them to make it to the playoffs, at the very least, a feat they have managed to achieve in all three years they have played in the League.

In the context of the upcoming season, the expectations from Bengaluru FC seem to be no different. And this time around, there is the small matter of the AFC Cup as well, where they will compete in the playoff stage. However, in terms of the ISL, here are a few reasons why the Blues will be unstoppable this season.

Bengaluru FC have retained the core of the side

Bengaluru FC
Bengaluru FC

With the likes of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Juanan, Rahul Bheke, and Harmanjot Khabra signed, the defensive unit is more or less complete. Of course, the absence of stalwart Nishu Kumar comes as something of a gaping hole, but the fact of the matter is that these players have played together for two or more seasons.

The same applies to Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Sunil Chhetri, and Udanta Singh. All of these players have played together in Bengaluru FC since 2017. Even Carles Cuadrat and several of the backroom staff have been an integral part of the club for a significant number of years.

On paper, Cuadrat has his first-team more or less fixed with three or four spots on the rosters to be filled. This continuity has ensured lasting success for Bengaluru FC across the spectrum of Indian football.

Bengaluru FC's consistency across seasons

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The Blues are perhaps the most successful club in the country in recent years
The Blues are perhaps the most successful club in the country in recent years

An important aspect to consider is the consistency the club has seen in the past few years. The club has been a strong contender for silverware in almost every season they have played in. In their four years in the I-League, the club managed to win twice, finishing second once, and fourth in their final season.

The ISL has also seen a similar story. They concluded their first two seasons at pole position on the table and winning the title in their second season as well. This time around, despite the effects of the pandemic, very little would change in terms of the football activities as the Blues look for their second ISL title.

2020-21 ISL - Plugging the gaps

Carles Cuadrat
Carles Cuadrat
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With the standards of Bengaluru FC as high as they are, the 2019-20 season of the ISL was something of a disaster. The absence of sharpshooter Miku was felt to the fullest extent as the dearth of goals impacted the Blues to the fullest extent. Even the likes of Deshorn Brown and Kevanaugh Frater could do little as the club crashed out of the semi-final following a 3-1 loss to ATK in the second leg.

However, this time around, those problems have been addressed on paper at least. Following the transfer of Nishu Kumar to Kerala Blasters, and the release of the aging Albert Serran, Cuadrat has signed reinforcements in the form of Ajith Kumar and experienced central defender Pratik Chaudhuri.

When it comes to attack, 33-year-old Brazilian Cleiton Silva has been roped in to rectify the void left by Miku, a void that could not be filled by the likes of Manuel Onwu. Raphael Augusto's recent exit has now opened up a place in attacking midfield. However, who signs for the club in the coming days remains to be seen.

Published 19 Oct 2020, 17:39 IST
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