Talking Point: Can Kerala Blasters break the Sergio Lobera spell?

The first Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) match of 2020-21 sees Mumbai City FC play Kerala Blasters FC in Match 44 at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday. Mumbai have been flying high this season, having been unbeaten in their last six matches with four clean sheets as well. Meanwhile, after an underwhelming start to their season, Kerala Blasters FC have seemingly kick-started their campaign with a win in their last match against Hyderabad FC. Ahead of the game, let’s take a look at some of the factors that could influence the outcome in a big way.

Improving Kerala attack might test the Mumbai defence

After scoring just three goals in their first four games of the season, Kerala have managed five goals in their last three matches. The side's overall work-rate in the final third has shown an improvement. Kibu Vicuna’s side now average almost 12 shots per match besides 10 chances per match as well. Another positive for Kerala Blasters has been the form of their striker Jordan Murray, who has now scored two goals in the last three matches for them and might be a more reliable prospect to lead the attack than Gary Hooper as of now.

Bipin and Le Fondre in good form

Mumbai City have been a force to reckon with in Hero ISL 2020-21, and Bipin Singh and Adam le Fondre have been in great form for them. The former has three assists, the joint most for an Indian, while the latter is in the Golden Boot race, with five goals in seven matches for the Islanders. Bipin’s three assists and 13 chances created is second in the Mumbai squad behind Hugo Boumous (4 assists and 19 chances). Bipin’s supply to the lethal English forward can be crucial on Saturday. Le Fondre has four goals in his last four starts for Mumbai City FC and his goal conversion of 38.46 is the best for any player this season.

The Sergio Lobera factor

With no win in their last four games against Mumbai, Kerala Blasters have not had the best of times against the Islanders in the last couple of seasons. The Blasters have conceded nine goals in these four games, while scoring just thrice. They hold a similar unwanted record against Sergio Lobera, when he led FC Goa previously. The Spaniard’s dominance over Kerala Blasters is highlighted by the fact that FC Goa won five of six games against them scoring 18 goals and conceding only eight.

 

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