Preview: With an aim to consolidate their chances of making it to the play-offs, Pune City FC will come out all guns blazing against hosts Bengaluru FC in an Indian Super League encounter on Friday.
Bengaluru are already through to the play-offs as they became the first team to qualify in this year's cash-rich league. The hosts still have three matches to play.
The formidable 'Blues' sit comfortably on top of the points table with 33 points having registered 11 wins from 15 games.
Pune have more than one foot in semi-finals but with 28 points and three matches in hand, they will not take their place for granted, though they are perched second on the points table.
Pune have never qualified for semi-finals since ISL's inception in 2014, but with Jamshedpur FC (25 points), Chennaiyin FC (24 points), Kerala Blasters (21 points) and FC Goa (20 points) all breathing down their neck, they cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal.
Bengaluru will look to continue their winning momentum but will surely test their bench strength.
Head Coach Albert Roca may field Spanish midfielders Toni Dovale, Dimas Delgado and Edu Garcia, like he did in the last match against FC Goa.
Roca could also employ Nishu Kumar, who would like to provide the much-needed ammo to increase the pace along the flanks and breach Pune's defence, if a chance comes his way.
Bengaluru have won their last five matches on trot.
They are also leading goal-scoring team, having found the rivals' nets on 30 occasions.
Miku and Indian captain Sunil Chhetri have been revelations in this ISL so far. The Spaniard has scored 11 goals and Chhetri scored nine.
Pune have been in good form. Star striker Marcelinho, who is fourth top goal-scorer with eight goals, has been in scintillating form.
Emiliano Alfaro and Diego Carlos have been effective in playing their role to get goals for Pune, who have scored 27 goals in the league.
Midfielders Baljit Sahni, Issac, Vanmalsawma, Jonathan Lucca and new recruit Marko Stankovic have all put in impressive performances so far this season.
Pune's defence also has been good with Adil Khan, Gurtej Singh, Rafael Lopez and Sahil Panwar, firing on all cylinders.
Goalkeeper Vishal Keith has been in fine form and has proved to be a very hard nut to crack.
Updated Date: Feb 17, 2018 18:13 PM