Following gruelling 22 Matchweeks of intense competition, only two clubs remain standing in the fight for the Shield with just one final game left in the league stage. Mumbai City FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant clash in Kolkata on Monday, marking their last league encounter. Interestingly, the outcome of this match will determine the winners of the Shield, concluding the season in thrilling fashion.

The last time the race for the League Shield came down to the wire was in the ISL 2021-22 season when Jamshedpur FC and Mohun Bagan SG battled it out. Eventually, Jamshedpur FC emerged victorious, stunning the Mariners with a solitary goal and clinching their inaugural ISL title.

Saturday's showdown not only features two of the best teams from the ongoing season but also pits the league's best attack against its toughest defence. Despite facing managerial changes mid-season, both teams have played to their strengths, propelling them to this pivotal moment.

Mumbai City FC boasts the league's stingiest defence, conceding just 17 goals in 21 games. Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan SG's attack has been formidable, scoring an impressive 45 goals in the same number of matches. With the Islanders trailing by just four goals, Monday's clash promises a spectacle of goals, enticing both club fans and neutrals alike.

Two mean defences 

Currently, FC Goa and Odisha FC lead the league in clean sheets this season, boasting a remarkable nine shutouts each. However, Mumbai City FC and Mohun Bagan SG are not far behind, both tallying eight clean sheets. The resolute defences of these two teams have been instrumental in keeping them in contention for the top spot as the season nears its climax.

Mumbai City FC has particularly shone in their away matches, securing clean sheets in four out of their last five encounters in the ISL. This impressive defensive streak is a significant improvement considering they managed only four clean sheets in the 14 away fixtures prior to this run. 

On the other hand, Mohun Bagan SG have showcased their defensive solidity by keeping clean sheets in their last two league fixtures. Their previous longest such run was a streak of four matches between November and December in 2022.

Since January, both teams have displayed remarkable defensive solidity. Mumbai City FC has conceded just eight goals in 11 games, accompanied by five clean sheets. Meanwhile, under the guidance of head coach Antonio Habas, the Mariners have let in 11 goals in the same number of games but have managed to keep six clean sheets, surpassing Mumbai City FC's clean sheet tally during this period despite conceding more goals.

Two lethal attacking forces 

Mohun Bagan SG and Mumbai City FC, despite their contrasting philosophies, share a common penchant for attacking football, often dominating play in the opposition box. The Mariners rank among the two teams to have logged over 500 touches in the opposition box this season, trailing only FC Goa, who boast 591 touches. Mumbai City FC is on the cusp of joining this elite group with 498 touches.

Together, these teams have amassed an impressive 86 goals this season, with certain players proving instrumental in this feat. Mohun Bagan SG's foreign trio - Dimitri Petratos, Jason Cummings, and Armando Sadiku - have contributed 27 goals collectively, accounting for over half of the team's total. 

Meanwhile, Jorge Diaz leads Mumbai City FC's scoring charts with eight goals despite just making 14 appearances. Indian forwards like Vikram Partap Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte have also made significant contributions, combining for 13 goals.

Since the league resumed in January, Petr Kratky's side has been fluid in attack, scoring in all 11 games played and tallying 23 goals. Similarly, Mohun Bagan SG has found the net in 10 out of 11 matches since January, except for a goalless draw against Odisha FC, accumulating 26 goals during this period.

Mohun Bagan SG has been particularly prolific at home, scoring in each of their last five games - a streak surpassed only by a six-game run in 2022. Meanwhile, Mumbai City FC has shown their attacking prowess on the road, scoring in their last five away fixtures.

All to play for 

As the final league game approaches, Mohun Bagan SG finds themselves in a position where victory is imperative to secure the Shield. With the fervent support of their home supporters, they are likely to unleash an all-out assault in pursuit of the three points.

Conversely, a draw would suffice for Mumbai City FC to claim the Shield. Despite their advantageous position, they remain committed to their exciting, attacking style of play, whether at home or away. Their success throughout the season has been built on this philosophy, and they are unlikely to deviate from it now.

Regardless of the outcome, the clash between these two formidable sides promises to be a mouth-watering clash. With the league's best attack pitted against the league's best defence, the final game of the season is poised to deliver a fitting conclusion to what has been a thrilling and fiercely competitive campaign.