Match 14 Preview: Mumbai City FC, ATK Mohun Bagan clash in a repeat of last season's final
League leaders ATK Mohun Bagan will be up against defending champions Mumbai City FC in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 match at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Margao, Goa on Wednesday.
The Mariners have hardly put a foot wrong this season, having registered two clinical victories over Kerala Blasters FC and arch-rivals SC East Bengal to log all six points. On the other hand, the Islanders crashed to a 1-3 loss against Hyderabad FC in the previous game, after a convincing win over FC Goa in their season opener.
ATK Mohun Bagan
The Mariners have won three of their last five competitive matches, having lost one and shared the spoils in the remaining one. However, they have looked solid this season, winning two out of the two matches played, and as per the recent trend, they are the favourites going into the game.
Mumbai City FC
The Islanders have won three, lost one and drawn the other in the last five competitive matches, which also includes the 2-1 win over ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero ISL final last term. But, with the momentum not favouring them, the Mumbai-based unit won't have it all their own way on Wednesday.
Head to Head
In the three matches played between these two teams last season, Mumbai City FC have ended up on the winning side in each of them, which also includes the final of the Hero ISL 2020-21. The Kolkata-based side have only scored once against their rivals, by virtue of a David Willaims strike.
ATK Mohun Bagan
Apart from the two goals conceded in the opening fixture against the Blasters, ATK Mohun Bagan have been flawless in the Hero ISL so far. The new signings have perfectly blended with the existing core players, and it would be a tedious task for any team to break them down. Roy Krishna is already up and running with his usual show - scoring goals, having netted once in each of the two matches, accompanied by young Liston Colaco, with an identical record. Manvir Singh has also impressed.
While Hugo Boumous had already set the bar high with a match-winning performance in the season opener, Joni Kauko just matched it with a magical display in the Kolkata derby. Lenny Rodrigues, not spoken of highly in the season so far, has been a silent assassin in the heart of the midfield. The versatile Deepak Tangri, who swaps his position as a centre-back and a defensive midfielder, keeps the back solid and compact.
With Tiri still out with an injury, Antonio Lopez Habas will have to field Carl McHugh as a central defender, which is working out pretty well for the club. Meanwhile, the side-backs, especially Pritam Kotal, has been brilliant with the overlaps, having also set up the opening goal for Krishna in the last game. However, they might want to improve on their finishing, having wasted quite a few opportunities against SC East Bengal. The misses did not prove costly in the context of the previous game, but repeating the same might hurt them in the future.
Mumbai City FC
The witty display in the opening match, which saw the Islanders steal the show with a 3-0 win over FC Goa, looked more like a trailer for the season to come. But, a contrasting display in the next match against Hyderabad FC has now put them in a fix. It’s not that Mumbai City FC players are not combining well, but have lacked finesse on the pitch. The playmakers have failed to create enough opportunities for striker Igor Angulo in the previous game, who netted a match-defining brace against FC Goa.
Apuia, Ahmed Jahouh and Raynier Fernandes fared well, but are capable of doing much better as per their reputations. Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Cassio, who linked up well with the wingers and even Angulo against the Gaurs, failed to recreate the same. Des Buckingham’s trump card - Ygor Catatau, who scored within seconds of his ISL debut in the FC Goa game, could not bail Mumbai City FC out of the situation against Hyderabad FC.
However, the defence was left exposed in the last match as they gave away chances for the Hyderabad FC forwards to capitalise, eventually leading to their loss. Mourtada Fall, Rahul Bheke, guilty for concentration lapse, were directly responsible for the goals conceded last weekend. There’s no doubt that the Mumbai City FC team possess all the qualities to be a champion, but they are yet to function properly, and facing ATK Mohun Bagan in their next match doesn’t make the job easier.
ATK Mohun Bagan
The inclusion of Joni Kauko in the list was obvious after a stellar show during the Kolkata derby, where he tormented the SC East Bengal players with his agile movements and guile. Providing an assist with a pinpoint through ball to Manvir Singh to set up the second goal, the Mariners need more of those to keep their title hopes alive. However, Habas should play the Finnish in his natural ‘Number 10’ position, to get the best out of him in the crucial match.
The poaching skills of the Indian is getting finer each day, as was evident from the second goal he scored against SC East Bengal. Already establishing himself as a primary striker for his side, Singh would be aiming to step up his game to the next level, especially with the rich support he is enjoying up-front. One area where he needs to improve in the match against Mumbai City FC and the rest of the season - wasting sureshot opportunities.
Mumbai City FC
If goals are anything to go by in the upcoming match, the Islanders will look up to the Spaniard to keep them in the contest. Having already scored twice in the ongoing season, Angulo, the golden boot winner from the previous season, looked threatening in the league so far and he is expected to do the same against a well-drilled ATK Mohun Bagan side. Provided he is fed with decent assists, the no-nonsense forward usually doesn’t miss an opportunity to put the ball past the net.
Lalengmawia Ralte (Apuia)
Imported in the summer transfer window, Apuia is a work horse in the central midfield area, stitching passes with his teammates to keep the game flowing. So far, the footballer has done a decent job, in his natural role and also when he drops down deep to help the defenders. The 21-year old’s service will be more crucial against an ATK Mohun Bagan side which likes to press on the counter.
Islanders aiming to buck the trend: Kolkata clubs ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal are the two teams against whom Mumbai City FC have a 100% win record. Mumbai City FC have won all the three matches against ATK Mohun Bagan and two matches against SC East Bengal last season.
Venue stats: The Mariners have played 16 matches at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium so far, having won 11 of them, drawn two and lost one. Meanwhile, out of the 14 matches the Islanders played at the venue, they have won seven, drawn three and lost four.
Pritam Kotal hits century: ATK Mohun Bagan’s Pritam Kotal will be making his 100th appearance in the Hero ISL in the upcoming match, thus becoming the fifth player in the history of the tournament to achieve the feat. Footballers who have played more matches than him are Mandar Rao Desai (114), Narayan Das (109), Lenny Rodrigues (108) and Harmanjot Singh Khabra (105).
Match timings and telecast details
Match: ATK Mohun Bagan vs Mumbai City FC
Date: 1st December
Venue: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Goa
Kick-off time: 7.30 pm
Telecast: Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 3, Hindi Commentary on Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports 1 regional channels - Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu
Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.