Unbeaten and unmatched, FC Goa and Mumbai City FC gear up for litmus test
There isn’t a lot to separate the Gaurs and the Islanders on the points table but the two teams have their own strengths and ways of winning games.
FC Goa and Mumbai City FC have been frontrunners in the Indian Super League (ISL) for many years.
The Gaurs hold the record for most goals scored in the league’s history while the Islanders have recorded most wins in the ISL. The two teams have three League Shield titles, one ISL Cup and a Super Cup crown among them and have often found themselves battling each other at the top end of the table.
As the two sides are set to meet in the 2023-24 season, the scenario is similar. FC Goa and Mumbai City FC are among the three unbeaten teams in the league this season and are looking to outdo each other to gain an advantage in the race for honours.
FC Goa are top of the league with 19 points in seven matches while Mumbai City FC are fourth with 14 points from six matches.
There isn’t a lot to separate the two teams on the points table but the two teams have their own strengths and ways of winning games.
Goal Threat vs Efficiency
𝘽𝙧𝙖𝙜𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙍𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙨 at stake in #Goa as 2️⃣ unrivalled teams go toe-to-toe tonight!— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) December 12, 2023
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FC Goa are a team that’s working the opposition defenders and goalkeepers the most this season. Manolo Marquez’s men have taken more shots (122) than any other team in the league and also have had more shots on target (44) than any other team in the division.
The Gaurs have also taken more shots from inside the box (83) than any other team in the league.
However, despite these numbers, FC Goa aren’t the top scorers in the ISL this season with five teams recording more goals than the league leaders.
The problem for Gaurs has been efficiency which is reflected by a goal-conversion rate on 9 which is poorer than most of the teams around them.
“If you watch the games then you'll know that we have missed some clear chances,” noted Marquez in the pre-match press conference ahead of the Mumbai City FC game.
It can put the team under pressure against a team which is the most clinical in the league.
Mumbai City FC have a shot conversion rate of 18.6% which is the best in the top flight. The Islanders also have a high Expected Goals Differential (xG Differential) of 3.16 as compared to 0.61 of FC Goa which means they are capable of scoring even from a relatively low-quality chance or from a position where scoring a goal is less likely thus highlighting the individual quality that they possess.
Marquez had highlighted this fact about Mumbai City FC’s Greg Stewart in a recent interview with the indiansuperleague.com
“I remember one conversation I had with Pep Guardiola. He told me that you can play very well all along but if that doesn't work, you get the ball to Lionel Messi and he will solve the problem.
“It's the same here. Players like Greg Stewart from Mumbai City FC can decide a game with one action,” he said.
Can defence be the difference?
A department that’s done excellently well for FC Goa is their defence. The Gaurs have conceded just three goals in the league so far as compared to six by Mumbai City FC.
The Gaurs have five clean sheets to their name as compared to just one for Mumbai City FC. Petr Kratky who will take charge of his first game as Islanders boss will be tasked with tightening their defence, especially against a FC Goa side who even though not the most efficient, do pepper the opposition box with plenty of shots.
The battle of the stars
Noah Sadaoui vs Jorge Perreyra Diaz
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Sadaoui and Diaz are expected to be the biggest goal threats on the pitch on Tuesday. While the former has yet to hit his stride this season, the latter has been in red-hot form scoring six goals, the most in the league by any player this season.
Diaz has a shot conversion rate of 46.2% which is the highest in the league for those who have taken at least five shots.
The Moroccan though is getting into positions but hasn’t had his scoring boots on this season. Sadaoui has attempted more shots and has taken more shots on goal than any other player in the league this season. He also has the most touches in an opponent's penalty box. So, it seems it is just a matter of time before Sadaooui is among the goals and there won’t be a better time to do it than against Mumbai City FC.
Victor Rodriguez vs Greg Stewart
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Two of the league’s best creative players will go head to head when Mumbai City FC travel to face FC Goa.
The Spaniard has created 16 chances so far this season and is third in the league in this metric just ahead of Mumbai City FC’s Greg Stewart who has produced 15 chances for his teammates.
The match could hinge on which player comes out on top in this battle with both sides not expected to give each other an inch.
There is still a long way to go in the ISL this season but this duel between FC Goa and Mumbai City FC can go a long way in setting the tone for their respective season.
“The feeling is that in the next two matches (Mumbai City FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant) we will see where FC Goa can finish this season,” Marquez said at the pre-match press conference.
The Spaniard is aware of the magnitude of the game and both sides would want to come out on top and pass this litmus test.