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NorthEast United v Bengaluru

ISL 2018-19: Bengaluru FC's Carles Cuadrat - One bad day and we will suffer

13:13 GMT 06/03/2019
Carles Cuadrat Bengaluru
The Bengaluru FC boss believes that his team have arrived at the play-offs in great shape

In less than 24 hours, Bengaluru FC will be making their second consecutive Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs appearance as they get ready to take on NorthEast United FC in Guwahati. 

Bengaluru boss Carles Cuadrat is well aware of the threat that the Highlanders are capable of posing, but is confident that his team can topple the hosts.

“We have been training and working on several things. It will be tough games, the one we play tomorrow and the one at home next week, but we have been having tough games this season," the Spaniard stated.

“NorthEast have their weapons and so do we. Everyone tells me we had some problems against them, but they got one point against and we got four. It will be a good game with a lot of passion, which is great for football. It's very clear for us at this point. To win this competition, we have to get the best from these three games. One bad day and we will suffer. I think we have shown a lot of consistency because we have been at the top of the table for a lot of weeks. 

“We have got 74 points in two league campaigns and the next team on the list is Goa with 64 points. But I have to tell you that it counts for nothing if we lose in the play-offs or the final. That is the rule of the competition and we accept that. At the beginning of the season, I told the boys that the aim was to reach the play-off and now the objective is to win the trophy. There are four competitive teams in the semifinal stage of the competition and we have to do well."

Although he is very happy with the fitness levels of his players, Cuadrat rued the injury to Erik Paartalu which has ruled the Australian midfielder out of the tie. The Bengaluru coach said, “We got ourselves the privilege of resting and preserving a few players by getting a lot of points in the initial stages of the tournament. I wanted to arrive to the final stages without injuries or suspensions.

“I was not completely successful in that because we lost Erik to an injury, which is a big blow because he is a very important player in midfield. And also, we will miss Gursimrat (Singh) tomorrow, who picked up a suspension in the last game. 

“I am very happy with the fitness level of my players. I was able to give a break to Udanta, Sunil and Gurpreet and they have arrived the play-off in a good dynamic.” 

The Blues have received plenty of flak this season for not performing to tob-table standards post the international break. Cuadrat rubbished these claims and pointed out that all top teams have had to suffer in this period. 

“I have been hearing a lot of people saying that Bengaluru are not in a good form at the moment. But, since Christmas, we have won two games. Which is the same number of games that NorthEast and Mumbai have won," Cuadrat explained.

“Only Goa looked like they were in a good dynamic with four wins, but they came to Bengaluru and lost 3-0. That's football. I don't think we are in a bad form, compared to other teams. 

“The teams have been through different dynamics and that's why it has been like this. In general, it is nice that a new team will win the League. It means that the teams that were not winning in the last seasons are doing their jobs."

Cuadrat expressed his approval of the Highlanders making it to the play-offs and expects a good game on Thursday. “I am happy that NorthEast are in the play-offs because it is a gift to the people who have been supporting them through the last four years. They can now enjoy a good semifinal game where I am sure there will be a nice performance," Cuadrat said.

When asked about the advantage of having to play the second leg at home, Cuadrat pointed to Ajax's win over Real Madrid on Tuesday as a cautionary tale. 

“Normally, playing the second leg at home gives an advantage. But there are a lot of things that can change this. You saw Real Madrid play Ajax last night. It is a clear example. It depends on how you arrive there and the dynamic of the team," the Bengaluru boss opined.

Cuadrat believes Bengaluru's previous experience of playing in the big matches could prove decisive on Thursday.

“One of the good things about this team is that we have many players who have played in semifinals before. Some of them played the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup semifinal, the Super Cup semifinal and the Federation Cup semifinal, so they have the experience of being there. 

“In football, the best players are the ones who can read the game and the moment and make the right decision for the best of the team and I believe I have those kind of players,” Cuadrat concluded.