Bengaluru, Chennai lock horns in battle of champions

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Bhubaneswar, April 3: With a spot in the Hero Super Cup semifinals up for grabs, Indian Super League champions Bengaluru FC will battle it out against Hero I-League champions Chennai City FC in the first quarterfinal at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

The Blues are the reigning Super Cup champions, having won the inaugural edition last season, and will look to defend their title. After their resounding performance in the ISL, Carles Cuadrat’s men will back themselves to overcome any opponent. Bengaluru arguably possess the most well-balanced team in the country currently, complete with an air-tight defence, a creative midfield and enough X-factor in their attack to trouble any team. The onus will be on the dynamic duo of Sunil Chhetri and Miku to provide the goals up front, while the likes of Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Albert Serran will be tasked with holding down the fort at the back.

Dimas Delgado’s vision and passing range will be central to the Hero ISL champions’ style of play and Chennai City will have their work cut out for them to nullify the Spaniard’s impact as the pivot of the Bengaluru team.

Akbar Nawas’ men have been in scintillating form this season, eventually emerging as the Hero I-League champions on the last day of the season. Chennai continued the momentum in the Hero Super Cup pre-quarterfinals and dispatched FC Pune City with a 4-2 score line, courtesy of a hat-trick by captain Pedro Javier Manzi.

The Spaniard’s brilliant performance on the night was a reminder of his exceptional goal-scoring prowess, which also led him to the top of the goal scoring charts in this season’s Hero I-League.

Manzi, along with Spanish teammates Nestor and Sandro constitute the spine of the impressive Chennai City outfit and will be a handful for the Blues on Thursday. However, Nawas will be missing defender Charles Lourdusamy, who was sent off in the second half against Pune.

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