Mumbai City FC
Indira Gandhi Stadium, Guwahati
20th November, 2015
This is a clash between two teams that are fighting tooth and nail to make it to the semi final playoffs at the business end of the tournament. While a win would take either team close to that mark, the equation is not quite simple for either NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) or Mumbai City FC.
Both are coming on the back of heavy defeats and this match represents a perfect opportunity for either of them to redeem their respective seasons, which seems a bit derailed right now. While a win would take NEUFC directly into the top four for now, Mumbai City FC would only be able to get to the fifth spot unless they can win by a margin of at least five goals.
Team News and Tactical Brief
NorthEast United FC
After putting together a string of two wins, NEUFC suffered a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the then bottom team Kerala Blasters FC, as their goal difference took a huge hit. At ‘-7’, NEUFC quickly need to amend themselves with a big win against a floundering Mumbai City FC, as coach Cesar Farias hastily tries to piece together their defence. Raju Yumnam’s reinstatement to the left back position looks imminent, as Farias tries to patch up NEUFC’s leaky defence. Another defensive change that seems likely is that of placing Bikey in the heart of the defence, rather than playing as a holding midfielder. The big centreback would surely add much solidarity to the NEUFC backline.
The man who inevitably would get the job of shielding the defence from midfield would be Silas. However, at this stage of the tournament, NEUFC cannot just worry about not conceding goals. In order to improve their much dented goal difference, they would need some sort of creative impetus from the middle of the park, which is set to be provided by Siam Hanghal. Meanwhile former Atletico Madrid man Simao Sabrosa would be looking to be the main creative head, in the No. 10 role behind central striker Francis Dadzie. Playing Nico Velez as a No. 9 did not quite work out, and he looks to be at his best when deployed from the left wing. From this position, the Argentinian forward can truely use his skills to the full potential, using his pace to bomb down the flank and cross, or his trickery to cut inside and shoot. Sanju Pradhan on the right wing seems to be a bit of a no-brainer though.
Giving Dadzie the No. 9 role seems to be a good ploy, but Farias also has the option of going with someone who has top level European experience, in the form of former Fulham striker Diomansy Kamara.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Rehenesh; Raju, Lopez, Bikey, Khongjee; Silas, Hanghal; Velez, Simao, Sanju; Dadzie.
Mumbai City FC
Nicolas are on a four match winless streak that ended in an enormous 7-0 drubbing at the hands of FC Goa. The former Manchester City and Chelsea FC striker would like to bring his best combination to the table, and that means taking himself off from the starting XI, and putting India captain Sunil Chhetri as the No. 10 behind central striker Frederic Piquionne. With Sony Norde on the left and Subash Singh on the right, the Mumbai City Fc forward lineuo looks quite formidable, and can give any side a drubbing on their day. Ironiaclly, that is exactly what they need, in order to mend their horrendous goal difference of ‘-6’.
Bringing in Aguilera into the midfield would give a lot of creativity to the side, if he is partnered up with Selim Benachour. If the duo can work well in tandem and create even half chances, the Mumbai City FC attack has the potential to rip any team apart. Although the number of goals they conceded (18 in 10 matches) looks a bit alarming, most of them were conceded in the match against FC Goa. In fact, they have the high number of clean sheets (four) in the league so far, and it is just a matter of getting their confidence back. Kingshuk Debnath seems to be a better option as a right back, than Ashutosh Mehta, and that is the only change we can expect in their defence.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Subrata; Fanai, O’Dea, Cmovs, Kingshuk; Benachour, Aguilar; Norde, Chhetri, Subash; Piquionne.
North East United FC 3-1 Mumbai City FC
Since both the sides have looked a bit jaded as the season is nearing the end, we can expect a few goals, especially in the second half, as the players start getting tired. However, NEUFC have the home advantage, and would be looking to get a revenge for their 5-1 loss to Mumbai City FC last time round. Mumbai City FC on the other hand, look like they are still reeling from their 7-0 loss to FC Goa.
Blast from the past
Mumbai City FC 5-1 North East United FC
The match saw India’s talisman striker Sunil Chhetri really get into his groove for the first time in the ISL, as he scored a hattrick, helping his side rout their opponents.
Image Courtesy: ISL Media Team