Bengaluru often had to tide over the challenges thrown by Sergio Lobera's side, especially in the second half where the Gaurs enjoyed most of the possession. But the Blues delivered the killer blow when it mattered and emerged champions. The Super Cup champions have been consistent throughout the season and upped their game when it mattered.
They found different ways to win games, be it dominating opponents, soaking in the pressure and counter-attacking. Bengaluru have had an answer to every question thrown at them this season.
Their best performance this season came sans key players such as Sunil Chhetri and Erik Paartalu. Bengaluru were down 10-men but secured a memorable 3-0 win over a formidable FC Goa side.
Evolved under Cuadrat’s reign
They have produced comebacks, most notably in the second leg of the play-off against NorthEast United where they were trailing 2-1 from the first leg. After being blunted for 70-odd minutes, the team would score three goals to book their spot in the final.
Coach Carles Cuadrat has helped the team evolve from the possession-based system as his pragmatic tactics also aided in their progress.
The 50-year-old has done well with a squad which didn’t have as much depth as last season. Their season was hampered with injuries to key players such Miku and Paartalu, still Bengaluru managed to top the league for a second season running.
Indian contingent in excellent form
The Indian contingent has been in superb form, something that sets them apart when compared to other teams. The likes of Udanta Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Rahul Bheke, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu have all stood up to be counted when it mattered.
Udanta, known for his pace, stepped up this season as he scored five goals and shared the load upfront. Chhetri, as usual, was sharp upfront while Gurpreet ended up winning the Golden Glove.
Significantly, Bheke produced a magical header in the end at a time when many were thinking that the finalists would be decided on penalties.
On the foreign player front, Juanan has been nothing short of brilliant as his calm presence at the back often helped nullify the opposition’s attacks. Certainly, Ferran Corominas, the Golden Boot, winner can testify.
Happy with our defensive work: Cuadrat
"I am very happy with how the Indian defenders – Rahul Bheke, Nishu Kumar and Harmanjot Khabra – performed. We decided to go for an offensive game and I’m happy that it worked out. Goa were not getting a lot of chance and (Ferran) Corominas was not involved as much in the three games that we have played this season. We have to be happy with our defensive work,” said Cuadrat after winning the title.
The way they blunted Goa over three games, whose attack has troubled every team this season, is testament to the fact that Bengaluru are, without doubt, deserving champions.