9/29/2018 6:18:59 PM (GMT+3)

ISL: Defending champions Chennaiyin face Bengaluru today

ISL: Defending champions Chennaiyin face Bengaluru today

NEW DELHI: Defending champions Chennaiyin FC will hope to start their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign on a positive note when they take on the season’s second game against Bengaluru at the latter’s Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.

In the tournament opener, Atletico Kolkata hosts Kerala Blasters at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.

“We know that this is a repeat of last season’s final, but the ideal scenario is that we view it as the opening game of this season. We have studied them but we will be focusing on ourselves more and how we can make use of our strengths in this game,” said Bengaluru new coach Carles Cuadrat.

The match will be a repeat of the last year’s final where Chennayin won 3-1.

The Blues played some pre-season friendlies against Barcelona B and Villareal B and, Cuadrat admits his side returned from the tour wiser and stronger.

“It was a good experience. They were tough opposition and now is the time for us to use that to our advantage as we begin the new league season,” the Spaniard said.

The friendlies also featured experienced centre-back Albert Serran who is expected to partner Juanan Gonzalez at the back and lend the defence some much-needed stability. Things have slowly begun coming together for Cuadrat and he will hope his team don’t take too long to find their rhythm. What will surely help is the fact that the Blues assembled much earlier than most ISL teams given their AFC Cup commitments.

Meanwhile, Chennayin’s midfield was dealt a little blow after Dhanpal Ganesh was ruled out of the first phase with an injury. The club have hired three new foreigners Eli Sabia, Andrea Orlandi, and Carlos Salom but how the Englishman chooses to roll out his overseas players makes for interesting guessing.

Bengaluru’s attack will come up against the muscle and experience of Mailson Alves and Inigo Calderon which makes for a fantastic battle. Interestingly, both teams have conceded in every game they’ve played against each other and Sunday’s tie could stretch that statistic.

The kicks off is at 7.30 pm. (Pic courtesy: ISL)