ISL 2020-21: Hyderabad FC Vary of Bengaluru FC Defence and Counter-attack, Says Coach Manuel Marquez
Hyderabad FC (Photo Credit: Hyderabad FC Twitter)
Hyderabad FC got off to a dream start in the Indian Super League 2020-21 season with a 1-0 win over Odisha FC, which enabled them to keep their first-ever clean sheet in the ISL. Rebranded with new ownership, FC Pune City became Hyderabad FC and the ISL had their first club from Hyderabad. All through the 2019-20 season, Hyderabad could not keep a single clean sheet and were the worst defence of the league. Thereafter, the clean sheet on Monday became all the more important.
Head coach Manuel Marquez admitted that the kind of win they had gave the team a lot of confidence. "In the seven games so far, we have had five games with only one goal difference and two draws. This is the sign that it is very important to start with victory and very tough to win games as most teams are on the same level," Marquez said in the pre-match press conference.
However, Marquez also added that as a coach, he knows to not be too happy and end up losing the other game. "We have to keep improving every week. We are happy with the first game's performance but we have to improve from that."
The clean sheet meant the backline of Akash Mishra, Joao Victor, Odei Onaindia and Asish Rai did a good job and none of them were substituted till the end of the game. However, with the games coming thick and fast and injuries being a problem for all the teams, Marquez admitted that the team combination may have to be altered time and again to protect the players.
"We played on Monday, then we play on Saturday and then Wednesday and we have 27 players ready to play. May be we cannot repeat the team for all the games. May be we can do that for the first two games but for the third game, we have to use more players because it is necessary due to injuries and we have to avoid these kind of things."
Hyderabad FC, in their first game also saw just one yellow card that was given to their captain and goalscorer Aridane Santana in the 84th minute of the match. Marquez said in all his training sessions, he insists on discipline because there are times when players take unnecessary yellow cards.
THE BENGALURU FC CHALLENGE
Marquez stated that Bengaluru FC was the biggest challenge that Hyderabad FC could have had at the moment. He felt it was in fact good to get this kind of dangerous test early on and it would be a tough game. "We will play a team that is one of the favourites for the title. About the fact that we haven't won a game against Bengaluru, just two games from last season is not statistic for me. Keeping a clean sheet like we did in the first game is a good and tough statistic for me."
Marquez brushed aside any comparison or learnings from the friendly they played against Bengaluru FC in the pre-season, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Marquez said the friendly was nothing more than a kind of training session. "I remember the second half of that friendly, we played with foreigners and they had just three - Cleiton, Juanan and Paartalu - and Juanan and Paartalu played only the last minutes. If we want to win, we have to play a very good game."
Bengaluru's defence was on full display in the first half of their opener against FC Goa, where the Goan side dominated the field of play but found it difficult to break through. FC Goa were able to break them for two goals in the second half but Marquez said they were just Bengaluru's "worst moment in the game".
"Bengaluru have a good defence but they also have a lot of players with good mobility, the two midfielders and their wingers go inside to create superiority of players in the other half. This is one of the keys of their game. They have very good counter-attack and good press during their ball recovery," he said.
Bengaluru FC have always worked hard on their set-piece play in training and that shows on the field when they are usually able to break through defences with their variations of set-pieces. Even against FC Goa, both the goals they scored were more or less from dead ball situations. However, Marquez said his team always prepares for set pieces and not just ahead of the game against Bengaluru.
"In football, there are five things things - attack, defence, two transitions and set pieces. You have to work on all these things, set pieces in defence and attack. We have to defend well in set pieces because they are strong and have different variations and headers and shooters. We try to avoid these kind of situations but we have to defend when it comes because we know that is one of their strong points," he explained.
Marquez shared that Joel Chianese did not play the first game because he was ill and now that he was good, he is cleared to play. Fran Sandaza is not yet ready to play and may be fit for the third game. Marquez got behind the Indian players of the squad and said they "have a great future" and games like the one against Bengaluru can be very good for them.
He further spoke about Santana's importance in the team not only in terms of scoring goals but also as a personality. "He is a very positive character. I think he doesn't need to score in all games because he knows how important he is to the team. He is a very positive person and a leader in the team."
Marquez also said that Liston Colaco, who set the field on fire on coming on as substitute against Odisha, may be in line for a start against Bengaluru FC.