Talking Point: Can Mumbai City and NorthEast leave poor scoring form behind?

Match 2 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will see NorthEast United FC taking on Mumbai City FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Saturday. Both teams missed out on a playoff spot in the previous campaign and will head into Hero ISL 2020-21 with renewed optimism under new head coaches. The Highlanders’ head coach for the season will be Gerard Nus, while Sergio Lobera is the man who has been entrusted with taking charge of the Islanders. Here, ahead of the game, we take a closer look at some of the key areas to focus on for both teams besides the potential game-changers.

The real Federico Gallego needs to stand up and be counted

Federico Gallego has been a part of NorthEast FC for two seasons now and the Uruguayan midfielder had contrasting fortunes in each of those campaigns. He was the team’s talisman in his first season with the club, leading them to their first-ever playoff appearance. Gallego managed to score four goals and provided five assists during that campaign. However, after suffering an injury, his performance levels saw a dip in Hero ISL 2019-20. Gallego found it difficult to replicate his debut season form last campaign and managed to contribute just one assist and a goal. That said, he will be hoping for a stronger season this time around and if NorthEast FC are to challenge for a top-four finish, then the Uruguayan must be at his best once again.

Mumbai City to benefit from Sergio Lobera effect?

Lobera’s teams are known for their expansive brand of football. His FC Goa team scored 42 goals in 2017-18 and 36 in 2018-19 by the end of the league stage. When he parted ways with Goa last season, the Gaurs were unsurprisingly top-scorers at the time as well, and fans can expect him to have a similar effect on the Islanders. Under former head coach Jorge Costa, Mumbai managed just 50 goals in the league stage over last two seasons.

Needless to say, the Islanders can be expected to enjoy a much better season in front of goal this time, especially when we take into consideration that Lobera’s Goa team averaged 2.05 goals/match during his time there. Furthermore, the addition of Hugo Boumous, who followed Lobera to Mumbai from Goa, will also boost their goal-scoring prowess. Boumous was adjudged last season’s Hero of the League having finished the campaign with 11 goals as well as 10 assists and Mumbai fans will be hoping that he can pick up from where he left off in Hero ISL 2019-20.

Goal-shy NorthEast United FC must sharpen their attack

Unlike Lobera’s Mumbai, goal-scoring will be one of the biggest areas of concern for NorthEast as they head into the new season. They finished ninth in the standings in Hero ISL 2019-20 and were bottom of the table for goal-scoring having netted just 16 times in 18 matches, which made them the team with the fewest goals last season. They couldn’t get on the scoresheet in eight matches and managed to take 197 shots at an average of 10.94 shots/match, making them the side with the least amount of shots taken last season. Head coach Nus must ensure that they are better in the opposition final third if the Highlanders are hoping to make the playoffs. They will need the likes of Idrissa Sylla and Kwesi Appiah to fire along with promising domestic players such as Rochharzela and Lalkhawpuimawia.

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