Bengaluru FC are synonymous with success and a distinct philosophy in Indian football. Therefore, their forgettable campaign in ISL 2020/21 came as a shock to many. Their lack of efficiency in front of goal and a leaky defence were major contributing factors in poor results last season.
With five wins, seven draws, and eight losses, Bengaluru finished seventh in the table with 22 points to their name. Only three clubs – East Bengal, Kerala Blasters, and Odisha FC – conceded more goals than Bengaluru’s 28 last season.
Ever since they became an Indian Super League club in 2017, Bengaluru have always managed to qualify for the playoffs, with last season being the only exception. They had finished runners-up in 2017/18, lifted the trophy in 2018/19 and were eliminated from the semis in 2019/20.
As a result of their poor performances last time around, the team went through a complete overhaul in the summer, which involved the departures of several veterans. New head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli will also be hoping to leave his mark with a successful ISL season.
How do things stack up for Bengaluru FC this time?
Marco Pezzaiuoli will be making his ISL debut managing Bengaluru FC this season. The German strongly believes in offensive and aggressive football. His philosophy combines pressing with possession. This comes as a welcome change for the JSW-owned franchise, who have pushed the envelope when it comes to playing attractive football in India.
The previous manager Carlos Cuadrat was often criticized for not sticking to this brand of football, especially his last season in charge of the club.
Meanwhile, assistant coach Naushad Moosa took charge of the side in the 130th edition of the prestigious Durand Cup. That Bengaluru FC team comprising mostly of youth players from the reserve sides made it to the semi-final but ended up losing to FC Goa. Moosa attracted a lot of praise and plaudits for playing pleasing football with young and inexperienced players.
Bengaluru FC transfers for 2021/22
Bengaluru FC made a whole host of changes to the squad following their poor show last season. They parted ways with legends like Erik Paartalu and Juanan and experienced campaigners in Rahul Bheke and Harmanjot Khabra. All of them played an active role during the influential era of Carlos Cuadrat, where BFC finished runners-up and even won the ISL trophy.
Bengaluru FC brought in 10 players during the transfer market. The wings and defence were key areas where BFC tried to strengthen their side with quality and depth. Those two areas cost them several points last season.
|Alan Costa||CB||Avai FC|
|Bruno Ramires||CDM||Belenenses SAD|
|Imran Basafa||ATM||Madhine Sazi|
|Prince Abara||–||Beerschot V.A.|
|Bidyashagar Singh||CF||TRAU FC|
|Danish Farooq||LM||Real Kashmir|
|Sarthak Golui||RB||East Bengal|
|Jayesh Rane||CDM||ATK Mohun Bagan|
|Harmanpreet Singh||RW||Bengaluru FC|
|Rohit Kumar||CDM||Kerala Blasters|
|Tomislav Mrcela||CB||East Bengal|
|Erik Paartalu||CDM||free agent|
|Rahul Bheke||RB||Mumbai City FC|
|Harmanjot Khabra||CM||Kerala Blasters|
|Semboi Haokip||CF||East Bengal|
|Joe Zoherliana||RB||Northeast United|
|Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha||ATM||Northeast United|
BFC squad for 2021/22
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lara Sharma, Sharon P.
Defenders: Alan Costa, Yrondu Musavu-King, Pratik Chaudhari, Wungngayam Muirang, Ajith Kumar, Parag Shrivas, Naorem Roshan Singh, Sarthak Golui.
Midfielders: Biswa Darjee, Muhammed Inayath, Akashdeep Singh, Iman Basafa, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Jayesh Rane, Ajay Chhetri, Rohit Kumar, Amay Morajkar, Bruno Ramires, Namgyal Bhutia, Leon Augustine, Danish Farooq.
Forwards: Thoi Singh, Sivasakthi Narayanan, Damaitphang Lyngdoh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Udanta Singh, Cleiton Silva, Prince Ibara, Sunil Chhetri, Bidyashagar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Edmund Larindika.
Bengaluru FC have always been known for pioneering Indian football, and therefore, when it comes to them, the expectations are always high. Anything less than a playoff spot would be termed as a major disappointment and let-down.
Although they made the correct decision to complete the squad overhaul given that several key players were past their prime, it remains to be seen whether the newcomers live up to that reputation. New signings such as Bruno Ramires, Iman Basafa, and Alan Costa might take time to get used to football in India which could prove to be a cause of concern for the side in the initial stages of the competition.
The transition from Cuadrat to a new manager in Pezzaiuoli will also be key as BFC have always been known to prefer stability instead of frequent sweeping changes.
We saw plenty of squad depth, utilization of youth, and adaptability from Bengaluru FC during their AFC Cup and Durand Cup campaigns. On paper, they look like an improved side compared to the 2020-21 squad, which was plagued by injuries and fitness concerns. However, BFC seem to have learnt their lesson and will certainly be competing for a top four finish this time.