Saturday, Jun 23, 2018 | Last Update : 04:02 AM IST
While Pune City are formidable opponents at home, their form has not been the best before the knockout stages.
Pune: They will be playing the first Indian Super League semi-final on Wednesday here. The difference is that this is Bengaluru FC’s first time in the league and FC Pune have never made it to the top four in their previous campaigns.
After the two games this won’t matter much. All that does is who emerges the winner.
While Pune City are formidable opponents at home, their form has not been the best before the knockout stages. The orange and purple army lost their last two games conceding as many as six goals including a 0-4 loss against FC Goa at home.
The silver lining for Ranko Popovic’s side is the return of beguiling Brazilian Marcelinho from suspension. He has scored eight goals and assisted in seven. Popovic believes that Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro are like Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for his team.
“When you talk about Barcelona, how do they feel when Messi is suspended or if Suarez in suspended? Likewise it is important for us to have both of them (Marelino and Alfaro) or at least one of them in the team,” he said.
On the other hand, Bengaluru have the duo of Sunil Chhetri and Miku, who have combined to score 24 of 35 goals for BFC. They will look to exploit the home team’s defense that has been vulnerable against strong opposition.
The visitors’ defensive pairing of Johnson and Juanan has only conceded 16 goals in 18 games. Their clash with Marcelo and Alfaro will be an exciting one to watch.
Pune’s record at home has been iffy with four losses in eight games. The table toppers can show their class away from home to gain an advantage for the second leg.