Mumbai City FC hold a slender edge over FC Goa as the two teams head into the decisive second leg of the semi-finals in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena on Monday. 

The Islanders staged a dramatic late comeback to leave Fatorda with a 3-2 win having trailed FC Goa by two goals for most of the night. 

So, Petr Kratky’s men who have lost just once at home all season long will go into the contest as favourites but the Gaurs will draw confidence from the fact that they kept Mumbai City FC at bay for the majority of the evening until that collapse in the stoppage time and can cause them problems in Mumbai. 

The tie is far from over with matchwinners on both sides and the second leg will witness an intense tactical battle between the two coaches who will use all the tricks in the book to outdo each other. 

Ahead of this mouthwatering contest, here is a look at three key battles that could shape the outcome of this contest. 

Lalianzuala Chhangte vs Jay Gupta

FC Goa would have learnt the hard way how dangerous Chhangte can be when given room in and around the penalty area. Playing at home, the Mizo winger is often seen using the width of the pitch to stretch defences and wreak havoc. He also has the ability to cut inside and shoot and is equally adept and making runs into the half spaces allowing space for the full-back to overlap. With his trickery and pace, Chhangte will be a real handful for FC Goa again. 

Read: How is Lallianzuala Chhangte fueling Mumbai City FC's attack?

Young full-back Jay Gupta who has had a breakthrough season will be tasked with dealing with the Islanders’ winger. Gupta’s task will be cut out as he will have to get his decision-making spot on and try to read Chhangte’s intentions. The winger can draw him out of position and drag him into positions he wouldn’t be comfortable facing Chhangte. 

Keeping Chhangte quiet could go a long way in helping FC Goa overturn the deficit and qualify for the final for the first time since 2018-19 and Gupta will have a big role to play on Monday. 

Yoell van Nieff vs Brandon Fernandes

Brandon Fernandes has scored in his last three matches and has hit peak form just at the right moment for the Gaurs. The midfielder is the creative hub of the team and has created more chances (59) than any other player in the league. 

With Manolo Marquez’s side behind in the tie, they will need Fernandes to be at his absolute best to unlock a miserly Mumbai City FC defence. If the Islanders allow the Goan to dictate terms, they will be in trouble in the match. 

Kratky though has a perfect antidote to Fernandes in the shape of Yoell van Nieff who has been one of the team’s unsung heroes. Apart from being the link between the defence and attack, Van Nieff is an effective shield in front of the defence and has the ability to snuff out danger through his great reading of the game. 

The Dutchman will be tasked to neutralise Fernandes’ impact on the game in the middle of the field and thus stifle the FC Goa attack. The experienced midfielder has all the tools to stop Fernandes and help Mumbai City FC take a big step towards the final.

Tiri vs Noah Sadaoui

In Noah Sadaoui, FC Goa have an ace up their sleeve. A lethal finisher, Sadaoui has quick feet which can be a nightmare for any centre-back to deal with. He can cause a lot of problems for the Mumbai City FC defence if he is isolated against any defender. He can play on the wings as well and thus will switch positions during the game causing further issues for the centre-backs who are marking him. 

Tiri is one of the most experienced centre-backs in the league and he will have to contain the tricky Sadaoui. This battle will be a big one in the semi-final as an on-song Sadaoui is very hard to stop. The Spaniard did a great job to keep the Moroccan off the score sheet in the first leg but the FC Goa forward will come with a new bag of tricks in the second leg. 

The Gaurs will most likely be on the front foot in the game given their need to win the match and hence Tiri will have to lead the defence line while keeping tabs on the tricky Moroccan.