Mumbai City FC book their place in semi finals of the latest edition of the Indian Super League after a comfortable 2-0 win against last year’s champions Chennaiyin FC at the Mumbai Football Arena. This will be the first semi final venture for the Ranbir Kapoor owned side since the League’s inception in 2014.
Mumbai City FC coach Alexandre Guimares named an unchanged side from their 5-0 mauling of Kerala Blasters in their last outing. Amrinder Singh started in goal with Senna Ralte, Gerson Viera, Lucian Goian and Anwar Ali forming the back four. In the middle of the park Sehnaj Singh was partnered by Krisztian Vadocz with Brito Alves and Matias Defederico exploiting thier pace down the wings. Star man Diego Forlan, who scored a hat trick in his last game, started just behind Sunil Chhetri.On the otherhand Marco Materazzi made 3 changes to his side that drew to Atletico De Kolkata. Karanjeet Singh retained his place between the posts. In defense Jerry made way for former Liverpool man John Arne Riise with Bernard Mendy, Eli Sabia and Mehrajuddin Wadoo forming the rest of the back four. In midfield Zakeer and Hans Mulder retained their places, while Manuele Blasi was replaced by harmanjot Singh Khabra. Upfront last times goal scorer Davide Succi retained his position while the injured Jeje Lalpekhlua was replaced by Jayesh Rane, while Raphael Augusto played just behind the strikers.
The game had a cagey beginning but didn’t take long to get going. Diego Forlan had the first shot on goal in the 13th minute from outside the box but the shot was deflected behind. Mumbai almost scored from the resulting corner as Sunil Chhetri’s clever backheel from close range from Defedrico’s shot into the box was saved by Karanjeet Singh. Mumbai were maintaining the pressure on the Chennaiyin defence and reaped the benefits very soon. In the 32nd minute, after a swift exchnage of passes, Sunil Chhetri unselfishly put forward a superb ball from the left hand side straight into the feet of Defederico, who slotted it calmly into the back of the net from close range. The Argentinian was a constant menace with his pace and skills throughout the match and already had 2 goals and 3 assist to his name prior to his strike, which was the 100th goal in the league this season. Chennayin had few opportunities to draw level before halftime. They came close in the 38th minute with Raphael Augusto having a crack from distance, but the shot was straight at the keeper. The sides went into halftime, with Mumbai deservedly in the lead.
The second half started much like the first, cagey at times, with both teams trying to retain possession. Chennaiyin’s attempts at attacks were nullified well by the Mumbai defence, who were quite adept at their job. Strikers Succi and Augusto had plenty of shots from distance but all wide of the mark.The game saw it’s next spark of individual brilliance at the hour mark.Diego Forlan, who was in the thick of the action throughout the match put in a high cross, which fell kindly to midfielder Krisztian Vadocs. The Hungarian chested the ball down and nestled it into the back of the net on with half volley from just outside the box. A scrambling Karanjeet put a hand to it, but the shot had too much power and went into the back of the net. After the second goal Chennai seemed to have lost hope, they created some opportunities to get back into the game but failed to convert them, a situation they have been facing throughout the season. Mumbai had chances to go up by two more goals, but Sunil Chhetri missed a one on one opportunity and drew a great save from the keeper in the dying embers of the game.
The game ended with Mumbai City achieving their 6th win of the season and ending their voodoo against Chennaiyin FC, against whom they had never managed a victory previously. Mumbai City became the first team to book a berth in the semi finals in the latest edition of the Indian Super League.
FC Goa host Atletico de Kolkata in Match number 47 in the Indian Super League, as both sides battle it out for a place in the Semis.
Atletico de Kolkata, who currently sit in 3rd position in the league table, will look to confirm their semi final berth. While FC Goa, who lie at the bottom of the pile would still want to be in mathematical contention for a place in the semis with a win at home this time around. The return leg, which was a feisty encounter ended with both the sides splitting points, a scenario that wouldn’t benefit either of the teams this time around.
The Gaurs sit at the bottom of the table, with an absolutely dreadful season this time around with 11 points after 11 games. They have the worst defensive record this time around with a goal difference of -6. In their last match, Zico’s men ended up with a goalless draw against Mumbai City FC at their home, a performance that saw them rise from the bottom, if only for a brief period of time. FC Goa has been very poor this season, with evident defensive lapses and plenty of missed opportunities up front.The defense has been shipping goals in left, right and center and tightening it up should be priority number one for coach Zico. In their last encounter with Kolkata their blemishes were saved after a late equaliser by Joffre, who has been one of their few glimmers of hope this season. Goa’s forward men in Robin Singh and Julio Cesar have been very wasteful, they have had good chances to take all three points in the dying moments,but missed their opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net. FC Goa have all the right ammunition to get victories, which they showed in a brilliant win against North East United with 9 Indian players in their starting eleven, but these victories come very rarely. It’s a must win game for the Gaurs, failing to which will crush any hopes for a semi final berth.
Predicted Lineup : L.Kattimani; D.Roy, G.Arnolin, R.Gaikwad, K.Almeida; T.Goncalves, S.Balmuchu, R.Luiz, M.Desai, R.Fernandez; R.Singh
ATLETICO DE KOLKATA
Atletico de Kolkata seems to be stuck in a limbo of drawing matches this season. The Kolkata outfit completed a hattrick of draws with their last encounter against Chennaiyin FC and have the highest number of drawn games this season among all the teams with 6 draws. ATK have been dropping some costly points with a possible 9 points dropped in their last four games. Kolkata seem to be struggling both with scoring goals and retaining their leads. The squad, which is an ageing one lacks pace, which seems to be hurting them the most.Marquee man Helder Postiga and Captain Borja Fernandez both look way past their primes and need to step up big time fior their team.The absence of South African Sameegh Doutie has been a key part behind the team’s recent slump and his return to the staring eleven could be a crucial factor in the outcome of the match.The defense needs sorting out too ,with the left side being the main problem, Robert has been out of touch and the coach seems to lack much faith in error prone Pritam Kotal.Coach Jose Molina’s tactics seem to be more focused on shutting up shop after a goal rather than keep the attacking flow going. In their last encounter, Molina brought off goal scorer Postiga early into the second half, which cost them in the end as they lacked a proper striker to score their winner after Chennaiyin made a comeback. It’s a very important match in the context of semi final berth for Kolkata. A win would ensure their place and give them a big morale boost, a loss or a draw could end up making it a very difficult qualification scenario.
Predicted Lineup : D.Majumder; A.Mondol, Tiri, P.Das, A.Ruidas; B.Fernandez, S.Pearson, J.Lara, S.Doutie; H.Postiga,J.Beloncoso
FC Goa 1-2 Atletico de Kolkata
Both sides will be looking to win this match to be in the race for the semis and with a rivalry brewing between these side since the league’s inception this could be an exciting encounter. TheHardTackle predicts a 1-2 win in favour of Atletico de Kolkata