With the Hero Indian Super League 2020-21 season scheduled to start from the 20th of November behind closed doors, we take a look at how a rejuvenated Bengaluru FC looks set to challenge for the title.
The Venues: GMC Stadium Bambolim, Tilak Maidan Stadium, and Fatorda Stadium
Defending Champion: Atlético de Kolkata FC (Will be competing under the new name ATK Mohun Bagan this season)
Runners Up: Chennaiyin FC
League Shield Winners: Goa FC
Last Season standing of Bengaluru FC: 3rd
Established in 2013, Bengaluru FC is owned and operated by the Mumbai based JSW Group and its managing director Sajjan Jindal.
Since their inception, the club has won two I-League titles, including one in their debut season, two Federation Cup titles, one Indian Super League title, and a Super Cup championship.
From the 2017–2018 season, Bengaluru FC joined the Indian Super League, and they won their maiden title in the 2018–19 season defeating FC Goa 1–0 in the final which was held on 17 March 2019. On 28 September 2019, Bengaluru FC announced a partnership with the Scottish club Rangers.
The present coach
After two seasons as Assistant at Bengaluru FC, Carles Cuadrat took over the reins as the Head Coach in July 2018. His succession as head coach immediately paid rich dividends as Bengaluru FC went on to win their maiden ISL trophy that season as well as a host of records, as the team went on a League-record 11 match unbeaten run while winning six matches in a row (another record). They became the first team to finish on top of the regular season twice in succession and became the first team to win the title after finishing top in the league phase.
In fact, the Blues made the Sree Kanteerava Stadium a true Fortress, as they went on a 17-match unbeaten run at home.
Cuadrat will be hoping for a repeat of the 2018-19 season where Bengaluru FC became the first team to secure the ISL League Winners Shield and the ISL Championship together.
Major Transfer News
During the 2019–20 season, Bengaluru FC extended the contracts of Juanan, Thongkhosiem Haokip, and Edmund Lalrindika. At the end of the season, Bengaluru FC extended the contracts of Udanta Singh, Erik Paartalu, Dimas Delgado, Ajay Chhetri, Leon Augustine, Roshan Singh, and Namgyal Bhutia.
In June, Bengaluru FC announced the signing of defender Pratik Chaudhari and the club's former goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte, as well as defenders Joe Zoherliana and Wungngayam Muirang on a two-year deal.
On 20 June Bengaluru FC announced the signing of Brazilian forward Cleiton Silva on a one-year deal. Silva has been a lethal marksman and is the all-time leading goalscorer of Thai League T1.
On 20 October Bengaluru FC announced the signing of Spanish defender Fran González and Norwegian striker Kristian Opseth on season-long deals.
Chennaiyin FC vs Bengaluru FC is not a derby match in the traditional sense but the two south Indian cities have had a long history and a tense rivalry.The two cities have always had disputes regarding political, geographical, and sporting history. They have tense rivalries with Kerala Blasters FC too as Southern counterparts.
Home stadium and fans
From the 2014–15 season, the club started playing their matches at the 24,000 capacity Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
West Block A stand is the largest stand in the stadium and is home to the vociferous West Block Blues. Due to criticisms with the pitch in the earlier stadium, the new stadium decided to do away with AstroTurf and instead adopted natural grass.
Due to Bengaluru FC's impressive home record, the Sree Kanteerva stadium is often referred to as 'The fortress' by its fans.
Expectations from the 2020-21 season
With 17 players from last season’s squad making the list again, the Blues keep their core intact heading into what will be their fourth Indian Super League campaign. Their talismanic striker, leader, and Indian footballing legend Sunil Chettri is set to lead them for the 8th season in a row.
"As a coach, it is always nice to have the right kind of selection problems. We have analyzed last season to find areas that we can improve on and have added players who can play in several positions in attack. We know that we created many chances in every game last year, but we must work on converting more of those opportunities. It's going to be an exciting season, and I believe we can be competitive again," said Cuadrat, on being asked about the selection headache with so many talented players on the roster.
With such an attractive transfer market business, Bengaluru FC as well as its fans will surely be hoping for a repeat of the 2018-19 season where they became the champions of ISL.
Image Source: Bengaluru FC official page.