Talking Point: Can former Goa insiders use their knowledge to Mumbai’s advantage?

Matchweek 2 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 begins with a thrilling game between west-coast rivals Mumbai City FC and FC Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Wednesday. Mumbai City’s Sergio Lobera returns to familiar surroundings along with his revamped Islanders side as they look to win their first points of the season against Juan Ferrando’s FC Goa. With both attacking outfits looking to get some advantage on the league table early in the season, let’s have a look at some of the talking points ahead of the mouth-watering contest.  

Homecoming for Lobera, Mandar, Mourtada and Boumous

Lobera returns to the Fatorda Stadium to face off against his former club. He will be joined by Mandar Rao Dessai, Mourtada Fall and Hugo Boumous, all of whom were instrumental to FC Goa’s run to the 2019-20 Hero ISL League Winners Shield. Ahmed Jahouh, another one to have joined Mumbai City from Goa, however, won’t play in this game after receiving his marching orders in the previous fixture. Having conceded twice from set-pieces against Bengaluru FC, Ferrando’s side need to be wary of Fall’s set-piece prowess. The centre-back won the most aerial duels by a defender (33) and also scored five goals last season, a Hero ISL record for a defender.

A battle of possession between the Islanders and the Gaurs

Lobera was known for his possession-based football prior to his move to Mumbai City. His Goa side averaged 535 passes per game during his two full seasons with the club. A familiar approach was evident during Mumbai City’s game against NorthEast United FC. They had 60% possession, completing 451 passes compared to the Highlanders’ 217. Meanwhile, in his first match against a compact Bengaluru side, Ferrando’s FC Goa too kept 64% possession, completing 448 passes as opposed to the 168 passes by Bengaluru FC. With two similar mentalities at work, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in dominating the ball.  

Angulo can be the perfect replacement for Corominas

Ahead of Hero ISL 2020-21, all eyes were on Igor Angulo, who had been brought in to replace FC Goa’s talismanic striker Ferran Corominas. And boy, did he make an impression in the team’s first game! The striker has begun his career in the league on a strong note, scoring twice in four minutes to earn a point for his side. Out of FC Goa’s five shots on target, three were by Angulo. In fact, Angulo became the first player since Corominas in the 2018-19 season to score a brace in the Gaurs’ first match of the season. Although Goa were on the backfoot for most of the game, Angulo kept making runs in behind the defenders and will look to add to his tally against the Islanders.

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