It's easy to discredit Albert Roca’s work by stating that he has only joined the club over three months back. The Spaniard has a settled team and doesn’t need to alter much as a change in tactics or style may see a drop in their form.
However, to play your first competitive tie in-charge of the club in an AFC Cup quarterfinal isn’t easy. To get the players understand, adapt and put the lessons on the field is another challenge.
Many have expected the former Barcelona assistant coach to bring the tiki-taka brand of football on board or a system where they shall dominate and score at will. While indeed they are seeing more of the ball now, defensively they look even more solid and compact.
In three matches they have played in his tenure, only a goal has been given away, which in all honesty, the goalkeeper should have kept it out.
“It’s not about the systems but the rhythm which is more important. The kids (in India) have never come in a direct confrontation with a tough team and so when they grow up and they come in the I-League or the ISL (Indian Super League),they cannot put into play the system because they have not come up against a big team and the rhythm at which the game is played is a problem. In Europe, the rhythm is fast and incredible.
“So for these last two months and a half, I have tried to push them on that - to press more in defense, to run in attacks and so on. Without a good rhythm and change of mind, we can never achieve the football that we want no matter what tactics we apply,” he gave insights into what he has been trying to achieve at Bengaluru FC.
Roca deployed a 4-3-3 formation in his first two matches against Singapore’s Tampines Rovers and the system worked well. They didn’t concede and despite a plethora of chances in the first leg, they only managed to score once.
There was a gap of six days between the second leg in Singapore and the first leg of the semi-finals against Malaysian giants, Johor Darul Ta’zim.
Within the said time span, Roca devised a plan and got the team to practice and play in a 5-3-2 formation. Alwyn George was deployed as a wing-back on the right with Salam Ranjan Siingh, Juanan, John Johnson and Rino Anto forming the rest of the defense.
“Modern day football requires everyone to do everything when needed. So I wouldn’t say it was difficult. Surely, some systems take time to get used to but the boys have been fantastic,” he spoke of how the players have taken to his style of play.
Bengaluru FC fans can be assured that Roca won’t park the bus. The former Galatasaray assistant coach has already assured that they will play a brand of fearless football and look to score a goal or two. It will be interesting to see what ploy Roca has devised for Johor for the second leg.
Can he mastermind Bengaluru FC to be the first Indian club to make it into the AFC Cup final? The entire nation will be rooting for them.