The finals of the Indian Super League (ISL)will witness a battle between two tacticians whose philosophy share the same core, but are still unique.
Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru FC and Sergio Lobera’s FC Goa have clearly been two of the most competent and consistent teams throughout the tournament. The teams managed to garner 34 points each, with Bengaluru finishing top of the league table, thanks to a superior head-to-head record.
Both the teams derive their philosophy from possession-based football and like to build from the back and move the ball along with great patience. However there is still a clear difference between how the two teams function.
Unlike his predecessor Albert Roca, Cuadrat opts for a more pragmatic and safety first approach. It’s not surprising that Bengaluru have achieved great defensive stability under the former Barcelona B player.
Although the full-backs Rahul Bheke and Nishu Kumar push up, Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh are provided with additional defensive duties, so that the defence is never compromised.
On the other hand, Sergio Lobera prefers a free-flowing mode of football and refuses to adapt his philosophy regardless of the circumstance. When the Blues got the better of the Gaurs at the Sri Kanteerava stadium last month, Lobera was upset with the fact that he changed his philosophy and adopted a more direct approach. According to the Spaniard, this ‘rash’ move led to their defeat.
Since both the managers derive their philosophy from the Barcelona school of thought, a relevant example could better illustrate the slight variations. Lobera’s Goa is similar to that of Luis Enrique’s Barcelona. Just like the ex-Barcelona manager, Lobera build his game around the brilliance of his front-line.
Whereas Cuadrat – like Ernesto Valverde – is more pragmatic. He reads the situation and makes necessary changes. It’s not surprising that Bengaluru have won or drawn quite a few games after trailing due to some changes in tactics and personnel.
Goa – on the other hand – have found it hard to find a reply when they have gone a goal down. Lobera does not like to tinker with his tactics.
Having said that, there is no right or wrong way to do things and credit must be given to both managers for creating an identity for themselves and ensuring their team reached the finals. Now it is all down to the summit clash.