Courtesy : Ray Sportz Media

League football is always different from the usual Cup football madness. Here you have to be consistent throughout the season, get past whatever opposition throws at you. Sometimes you win handsomely, sometimes you get frustrated by stubborn low blocks. Some matches you get chance after chance, while in some, you don't even get a whisker of goal. Take for example last night's game. It couldn't have been more different from the games against Punjab and Odisha. Against the former two, we had plenty of chances, plenty of openings and hence plenty of goals. Yesterday, we had 1 shot on target in the entire game. Yes, only one from which the solitary goal came. We had 17 shots yesterday, majority of which, 11 to be precise, came from outside the box. Doing some basic mathematics, we had 0.058% of our shots on target. Were we that bad yesterday? Well partly yes and partly no. Let's dive in.

Before we begin, let's acknowledge what our management has been doing this season so far. Right from changing the name of the club, to introducing the beautiful jersey, doing player presentations which are a rarity in Indian football. Yesterday it was informed that additional bus services have been arranged to take the supporters home after the match. Along with it, tifos, drums, megaphones are now being allowed. Such gestures will help to strengthen the bond between the team and the fans in the long run. We express our gratitude to the management for taking these wonderful steps. 

Courtesy : MBFT

The fans again didn't disappoint. The official attendance read 29,552. On a working day with a 8 PM kick-off, it's a huge number. The fans took full advantage of the relaxed new set of rules, showcasing some world class tifos. The beating of the drums, the chants of Mohun Bagan, the passion was outpouring against our long standing rivals. The fans didn't forget to celebrate Bello Rasaq's 85th minute goal against the same opponents on that rainy night at the Kanteerava which brought us the I-League in 2015. This is the essence of the Kolkata Maidan, new heroes are made every match day, heroes turn into villains sometimes. But the fans remember them all. Once you are a part of us, you are always a part of us.

Coming to the actual match, Juan made three changes to the squad that started against Punjab FC. Anirudh Thapa, Hugo Boumous and Manvir Singh came in for Glan Martins, Brendan Hamill and Ashish Rai. These changes meant a change in formation, with Juan seemingly opting for a 3-5-2. A back three of Anwar, Hector and Subhasish, followed by a midfield five of Thapa as the defensive midfielder, Sahal and Hugo as the two roaming playmakers and Manvir and Liston supplying the width. Aussie duo Dimi Petratos and Jason Cummings started upfront.

The game began with Mohun Bagan initially on the backfoot. Not often do we say that, but Bengaluru didn't look intimidated by the challenge at all. A series of wayward passes from our players meant Bengaluru could attack at will. Javi Hernandez and Roshan Singh were looking dangerous for BFC. Roshan, playing in his new inverted full back role created all sorts of problems, be it taking shots on goals or putting in the crosses. Mohun Bagan were forced to defend and paly on the counter initially.

But this spell of pressure didn't last long. As we have seen this season, this team likes to play with the ball at their feet. No lofty crosses praying to find a forward, just simple one touch passing. And it worked. The pressure was reversed, Mohun Bagan starved the BFC players of the ball, so much so that the whole match was being played in BFC's half at point. Bagan played a high line, with one central defender pushing up when the team had possession. BFC had a very clear gameplan, squeeze it out centrally and block whatever shot Mohun Bagan takes from outside. This stubborn low block meant Mohun Bagan had 11, yes 11 shots from outside the box, with none hitting the target.

Liston looked like his former self on the left, going past his marker on a number of occasions. The maturity was there on display, but sometimes that old habit of taking an unnecessary long shot came back, resulting in the ball being sent to the stand on a number of occasions. Cummings, Hugo and Dimi combined well, with either of the trio dropping down at times to get the ball and start the attack. Hugo was at his usual best, putting in the passes only he can, combining with both Liston and Dimi and Cummings on several occasions in the first half. But all went in vain. The low block deployed by Simon Grayson was too rigid to break down. How do you score past a team who defend with all their men? That's the answer Juan had to find for the second half. 

Juan did get an answer though. As soon as the second half begun, Bagan wasted no time and attacked from the get go. They had a huge shout for a penalty ruled out when Dimi was brought down in the box. Infuriated, the players surrounded the referee to change his decision, but to no avail. But, the wait didn't last longer and floodgates opened soon, and it was an all too familiar face to get it done.

67th minute. Manvir put in a delicious cross from the right, hoping to find a Mohun Bagan player in the box. The cross was cleared away by Jovanovic, but it not too far. Cummings proved his class, controlling the ball and releasing it to an unmarked Hugo Boumous who scored at the near post past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. "The Anti Hero, the Bad Boy, the bona fide superstar of the Indian Super League" did it again. A wry smile on his face, his team mates jubilant. The great wall of Bengaluru was broken. The fans rejoiced, the heavens listened. Mohun Bagan lead 1-0.

Although no more goals were added later on, few interesting events took place. Suresh Singh from BFC got his marching orders for second yellow for a foul on Dimi. Was the foul worthy of a second yellow? Maybe yes, maybe not. But the second red from Bengaluru Fc for Roshan Singh was no doubt justified. Him being the last man, he clearly fouled Dimi getting none of the ball whatsoever. Bengaluru got reduced to nine men eventually.

But still Mohun Bagan couldn't capitalize. Bengaluru kept on piling the pressure and surprising they came close to equalizing on a number of occasions. The Bagan players looked switched off to say the least, making a number of errors towards the back end of the game. If it was not for some good blocking and clearances from Glan Martins, we could have conceded the equalizer. Yes, a team like BFC is expected to never give up, but we can't afford to be this casual towards the end of such big games. All the points will add up towards the end of the season. A point lost now can be worrisome towards the end of the campaign.

Another thing that caught the eye was the lack of chemistry upfront between Sadiku and Dimi. Both had clear runs at goal, both had the chance to pass on to the other. But instead they chose to shoot. First it was Dimi who clearly ignored a free Sadiku and going for the goal himself. Few seconds later, Sadiku returned the favour by not passing the ball to Dimi and sending it to the stands. Few minutes later, it was again Dimi who squandered the chance to pass on to Sadiku for an easy tap in. Three easy goals, all missed, none on target. The coach really needs to sit down with this team and have a talk. Agreed they are big players and big egos almost go hand in hand with such players. But Mohun Bagan is more important than any player's personal goals and assists tally. This is Juan's team, this is our team. For us, the three points matter the most, no matter who scores or not. Such lack of chemistry was shocking to say the least, and an area which must be looked into.

Bagan could not capitalize on their chances. The score line should have been bigger. 67% possession, 563 passes with 84% passing accuracy, 9 free kicks, 7 corner kicks, 17 crosses, 17 shots....all this for one shot on target and one goal against a 9 man away team. This team needs time as coach Juan rightly pointed out. Though we got the three points, there's a lot to improve upon as the games come thick and fast now.

At the end of the match Hugo Boumous pointed out few things, “We have played 11 matches in these few days. We won ten of them. The matches are happening in such short time that there is not enough time to rest and freshen up. As a result, it is not possible for everyone to play the same intensity for the whole 90 minutes"



Vishal had a fairly uneventful game. He made 3 saves and was largely untroubled throughout the game.


Anwar did what is expected of him, solid in defense, advanced forward on that right flank on a number of occasions. Juan substituted him later on to keep him fresh for the next gave in the AFC Cup.


Probably my favourite player after Dimi on this team. So so crucial in defense, the heartbeat of the team so far. Cool under pressure, class on the ball. He's been one of the signings of the season so far.


Captain Subhasish played as a part of the three man defense from the left of the back three. He had a good match, fairly solid, but looked to lack bit of concentration towards the ending moments of the match.


Anirudh was the anchor man, the one who linked attack and defense. When ever a center back went up, he slotted in at the back for providing the resistance against opposition counters. His passing was crisp and slowly he's reaching his best form we all know he's capable of.


The ISL and Hugo Boumous go hand in hand. Probably the best foreigner to ever grace the ISL, Hugo was magical once more. Not only the goal, which was brilliant by the way, his overall vision and passing, his ability to bring others into the game is something unique to only him. Another great game from our French superstar.


Manvir was good on the right and made use of whatever space he got. It was his cross into the box which started it all for the first goal. Manvir this season looks fit and determined, ready to prove a point. Though his cut backs were really impressive, crossing is something that can be worked upon.


The old Liston Colaco, who took on defenders at will, scored goals from almost anywhere looked to be back last night. Sure, he again blasted a few into the stands, but he seems to have developed the maturity to with hold himself from taking long shots. He skipped past his markers quite a few times and almost scored in the first half.


Dimi had a good match, but didn't have a goal contribution. He linked up well with the attackers, but was frustrated throughout the game. He was the player fouled on both occasions Bengaluru got the two red cards. Though Dimi didn't play badly, him not passing to Sadiku towards the end of the game was not a good thing to witness. Rating-7/10


Jason had a decent game. He came deep on a number of occasions to link up the blay. It was him who controlled the clearance from Jovanovic's clearance. His clever through ball found Hugo who slotted in from close range.


Both Glan and Hamill came on together to replace Anwar and Hugo, and most importantly to protect the one goal lead. And both did their job. They defended well, cleared the ball and were dominant in the box, making sure Vishal was not put under too much trouble. Two players who would be starters in any team, did their job pretty well.
Rating for both-7/10


Let's start with Sadiku. He looked good initially, latching on to the long balls. But he should have passed when he had Dimi free towards the end of the game. His long range shooting hasn't yet gone to plan this season, apart from that one goal against Goa. Only time will tell if Sadiku will be able to live up to his lofty standards and score the goals he was brought in here for.

Next up, Ashis Rai. It was initially a surprise to see Ashis not starting after the game he had last time. But this time, he couldn't do much. His crossing was poor and couldn't have any impact both in attack or defense.

Kiyan had his few minutes in the final 10 minutes of the game and though he did look sharp, he didn't have much to do than defending, which was the need of the hour.
Rating for all-6/10


The gaffer was again spot on with his team selection, but will be gutted at some of the chances we missed. He knows, any slipup in this league and all the hardwork will go in vain. As he said, this team needs time to get to their absolute best. This season has clearly demonstrated a clear gameplan from Juan and his coaching staff, a clear identity which the fans were craving for so long. The substitutions were spot on, yet again.
Rating- 8/10


What can we say, another match, another day we prove why we are the NATIONAL CLUB OF INDIA. We don't normally brag about our attendances, for we are more focused on winning football matches and maintaining our legacy. But still, our supporters make it impossible for us not to talk about them. Be it the tifos, or the scarves being waved or the drum rolls,  29,552 supporters in the stadium and millions at home showed what it means to be a Mohun Bagani. A true Mohun Bagani with a legacy rich that diamonds will fail, a club so dear to its supporters that you would think its their mother. That's Mohun Bagan. Our players are our representatives, our warriors who fight on the field with their blood and sweat, and we back them every time. Our jersey, our emblem, it can get dirty with mud, sweet or blood....but never with shame. The boat sails on and on, come what may!!

MARINERS were 10/10 throughout

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