Bengaluru FC enter their second consecutive Indian Super League final with a better head-to-head record over opponents FC Goa, but coach Carles Cuadrat has warned against complacency, stating that the final could be a whole different ballgame.
Bengaluru and Goa finished the league stage of the ISL season level on points, having had exactly the same number of wins, draws and losses (10, 4, 4) as each other, but Bengaluru's superior record against the Gaurs ensured that they headed into the playoffs in first place. However, at the pre-match press conference, Cuadrat insisted that their league position meant very little in the grand scheme of things, saying, "I don’t really see myself as a favourite in the match tomorrow, because there are a lot of things that we have in common with them."
"If you’re talking about a cup final in Spain, where Barcelona is playing another club, then Barcelona are favourites. When clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona play, they are favourites. But they aren’t playing here, so it’s 50-50, and it’s going to be very interesting," added the Spaniard.
When asked if the team had a psychological edge over Goa, having beaten them twice in the league stage, Cuadrat was quick to dismiss the idea, stating, "In general, football is a game that has a lot of psychological factors. Of course, I believe that in some moments, it really depends on how the game is going, you can have the upper hand at times. But I won’t take confidence from our wins. Because even though we won the last match, they came very close, in the beginning, hitting the post. It could have been very different."
Whilst both teams will undoubtedly do their best to win the trophy for the first time, there is also a certain element of camaraderie in the tie, with the coaches having known each other during their time at Barcelona. Cuadrat spoke fondly of his FC Goa counterpart, stating, "It’s nice, for people like us, that we are given the opportunity of coming to places like India and working here. Sergio and I grew up learning a certain ideology, and it’s strange that so many years later, we’re facing each other in an important final."
Cuadrat also elaborated on how Lobera was also a crucial factor in his move to the ISL, saying, "I’m really grateful for Sergio, because he was the one who told me to take this job. I was in Barcelona, and he was in a village near the city. He called me up and asked me if I wanted to get a coffee sometime, and when we met, I told him that I was considering a job offer from Bengaluru. He said to me, ‘Just do it. It’s a good opportunity and I think you can do a good job.'"
Their similar backgrounds have led them to develop comparable philosophies in football, with both of their teams preferring an attacking, possession-based system of football, that is held together by the midfield.
Cuadrat waxed lyrical about the attacking capabilities of both teams at the press conference, saying, "both the teams, Goa and Bengaluru, are very strong in midfield. The battle is going to be about the possession of the ball, and how dangerous the strikers can be."
He also stressed on the importance of big-game players delivering on the night, adding, "I think finals are games where these type of players need to step forward and do something special. Tomorrow is a game for some players to show what they have. We have Gurpreet, we have Dimas Delgado, we have Sunil Chhetri, we have Miku. We have players who could make a difference in the final. The problem is that Goa also has these kinds of players. They have Ahmed Jahouh, they have Mourtada Fall, who has been scoring goals from set-pieces, they have Edu Bedia and Coro."
Bengaluru have managed to reach the final for the second year running, but the Blues will be hoping for a better result this time around, having lost to Chennaiyin FC in last year's final despite being the favourites. Head coach Cuadrat has urged his players to learn from their defeat at the hands of Chennaiyin, saying, "Last year was a great example of what the finals are about. We were in form, we scored first, early in the first half. They got a couple of set-pieces, but we were known for how good we were with set-pieces."
"Then suddenly, we were two goals behind. There was nothing special about how they did it. It was a perfect cross and a perfect header. We were leading, and suddenly we were in trouble," he added. The 3-2 loss has left a bitter taste in the player's mouths, with several members of staff stating over the course of the past year that the winners should be decided on the basis of position instead of playoffs.
However, Cuadrat sees no problem with his wards expressing their frustration, as long as it channelled into positive results, saying, "within this group of players, there’s a sense of frustration about last year’s final. This frustration, in some cases, can help you. It can make you want to do better. We wanted to win the final, and now we have another opportunity to do it."
"As a manager and as players, we need to manage that frustration and eagerness to win in a good way," he concluded.
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Updated Date: Mar 16, 2019 22:18:43 IST