Dubbed as the battle of the champions, Ceres-Negros FC and Bali United went out on the pitch hoping for a tight battle despite the absence of the fans but things turned out differently from what the travelling side wanted.
Both sides played out even 30 minutes but once the busmen got the gears running, there was no stopping them. Without further ado, let’s go to Tito Jay’s Five Takeaways from the match.
1) Super is back and the busmen are loving it
It was a sight to see when Super Herrera walked out on the pitch as part of the starting lineup after being sidelined due to injury. His comeback proved to be the revamp they need in terms of their defence from their last match against Than Quang Ninh.
Through his efforts and leadership in the back, Ceres-Negros FC held the Indonesian league champions to just three shots on goal and none of them even threatened Roland Müller as there were no shots on target.
He’s made sure as well that the final ball didn’t come for Bali United to take advantage of and offer more options for the counterattack through quick clearances and proper distribution to the sides.
With the three-game home stretch being done for the three-time Philippines Football League champions, his return will play a huge role in their next AFC Cup matches to be played away from home.
2) Mr. Football can’t stop and won’t stop
A week after receiving the most coveted PSA Mr. Football Award, Stephan Schröck went out on the pitch with a sheer conviction of continuously improving his game every time he dons the yellow and black kit or even with the national team.
“Mr. Football happened last week. It’s nice to look back and admire things but I’m scared to get stuck there. That’s why I try to improve my game every game,” said Stephan Schröck during the post-match presser.
In this match against Bali United, Schröcky offered a lot on the table. His shot on goal on the 35th minute might’ve been saved but it opened a window of opportunity for OJ Porteria to pile on the rebound and give the home side their first goal of the match.
His run on the 51st minute in front of goal forced the visiting side to take him down gave the busmen a spot-kick which Bienvenido Marañon converted was another piece of the cake he offered.
Not long after, the Alpha Male swung in the corner and found Marañon’s head in the 69th minute only proved that he might not score in the match, he’ll still punish you in some other way.
3) OJ Porteria unleashed the fighter in him
2020 has been proving to be a year of rejuvenation for OJ Porteria as he’s been making himself a pivotal piece in the busmen’s formidable squad. In their AFC Champions League qualifying match against Shan United, he made it to the scoresheet and from there, we knew, he’s up to huge things on the horizon.
In the AFC Cup, he’s already showed his goal-scoring touch against Than Quang Ninh and how to celebrate like a bad man with good intentions for his club.
This game against Bali United, he scored the opener in the 35th minute which is just a pick-me-up the game needed. He’s had a couple of chances to himself as well that threatened the goalkeeper.
Should he continue this run of form in their upcoming matches, we’re definitely in for a treat and he’ll be tagged as another player to watch out for by any opposition.
4) Take the ball, pass the ball
The busmen had a tremendous amount of time with the ball as they were able to hold it 68% of the time against Bali United and they made it work for them.
Swinging the ball from left to right, the Indonesian league champions are a bit dumb-founded on where the next threat would come. Amassing a total of 591 passes with 86% accuracy, you would not wish to be in the middle of the park chasing for that ball against Ceres-Negros FC.
“We’re trying to control the ball and attack. We’ve been playing the same way. I’m really proud of them,” said coach Risto Vidakovic applauding the efforts of his wards in this masterclass against Bali United.
Heading into the second round of the group stages, coach Vidakovic vows to continue playing the same way as they have been doing and will be expecting a tougher set of games as they will be playing away from home.
5) Should we get used to closed-door matches like this?
The busmen missed their fans who kept on cheering for them for 90 minutes in this game but that didn’t seem to prove any difference as this is just a proof of their brilliance and familiarity with each other.
However, it only makes us think that due to the increasing numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, are we going to expect more matches like this?
Take for example the Philippines Football League. It kicks off on the 21st of March and we’re here thinking, will it also be played behind closed doors? If that’s the case, this will be a big hit not to the club’s morale but to the fans.
Seeing this masterclass on TV or online was not, will not and will never be enough. Football is a sport that you can appreciate more by watching it live inside the stadium.
However, this will be beyond our control and at the end of the day, the safety of everyone, be it the players, staff or the fans, is at the utmost priority.
With football gaining more momentum here in the country because of its recent success in terms of intercontinental club competitions and our national team’s performance, all that we can hope for is to have this situation under control so that we can go back to the days where we see packed stadiums.
Photos by: Ceres-Negros FC