Mumbai, Chennaiyin lock horns in bid to secure final semis spot

Match 87 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 will see Mumbai City FC take on Chennaiyin FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday. With both teams vying for the only remaining semi-final slot, the match presents an almost must-win proposition for both sides involved, especially the home team.

Mumbai City FC

After being thoroughly beaten by FC Goa in their last fixture, Mumbai City will need to pick up all three points in their last league phase encounter against an in-form Chennaiyin side in order to seal their qualification in the knock out stages of Hero ISL 2019-20. Jorge Costa’s team will be buoyed by their recent home run which has seen them win their last three games in Mumbai, including a 2-0 victory over defending champions Bengaluru FC.

The Islanders' home form was initially a cause for concern but a 100% record in their last three outings on home turf suggest Chennaiyin will face a stern test on Friday. While a draw won’t knock them out immediately, the Islanders will need to rely on NorthEast beating Chennaiyin in the last match and Kerala denying Odisha a win in order to qualify, making qualification a lot more unlikely.

Jorge Costa’s men will be desperate to seal the deal themselves with a win and not rely on luck. With their season practically riding on the result, expect Mumbai to go all out in the match. The Islanders have found most of their offensive success from the wings, particularly owing to Diego Carlos, who has looked dangerous so far this season. The return of Tunisian forward Amine Chermiti, who missed the last game due to suspension, will only further bolster Mumbai’s options. In Carlos, Chermiti and the in-form Modou Sougou, the Islanders possess the attacking threat to worry any defence.

Furthermore, with 14 different goal scorers so far this season, Mumbai have proven to be a difficult opposition to contend with for most teams this season and will certainly make things difficult for Chennaiyin's backline come Friday.

Chennaiyin FC

Like Mumbai, a win in Friday's match will ensure Chennaiyin's qualification in the semi-finals but the Marina Machans also have a little more leeway when it comes to settling for a draw. In the event of a stalemate, however, things do become a little more complicated for the two-time champions as that would mean Odisha can come back into the fray with a win over Kerala Blasters FC on Sunday's match. If that happens, Chennaiyin's last match against NorthEast United FC on Monday will become a must-win affair for Chennaiyin as even a draw in that match would mean Mumbai, Chennaiyin and Odisha finish on 27 points and Odisha go through by virtue of their superior head to head record against the other two.

Chennaiyin fans, however, can take hear from the team's recent form which has seen them win five of their last six matches, scoring an impressive 18 goals in the process. Even the fact that Chennaiyin are still in the top four race can be attributed to the miraculous turnaround the team has managed under new head coach Owen Coyle, who took over at a time Chennaiyin were languishing near the bottom of the table. The driving force behind their recent surge has been their attacking quartet of Nerijus Valskis, Rafael Crivellaro, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Andre Schembri, all of whom have been in scintillating form since Coyle's arrival. Anirudh Thapa and Edwin Vanspaul have also put in impressive stints in midfield post the Irishman's arrival at the club.

In fact, Chennaiyin’s turnaround under Owen Coyle mirrors glimpses of their Hero ISL 2015 season where the team went from 10 points in 10 matches to win the Hero ISL trophy.

Despite recent form stacking things heavily in favour of Chennaiyin for Friday's encounter, one stat Coyle and Co will need to be wary of is the fact that Chennaiyin have never won a match at the Mumbai Football Arena in three attempts. All three ended in defeats with Chennaiyin failing to score even once.

Did you know?

  • Chennaiyin’s Anirudh Thapa has five assists in the last seven matches.
  • Chennaiyin have never won a match or scored at the Mumbai Football Arena.
  • The match will be Mumbai’s 100th Hero ISL match and 50th at home.

Probable line-ups:

Mumbai City FC: Amrinder Singh, Subhasish Bose, Mato Grgic, Pratik Choudhary, Mohammed Rafique, Rowllin Borges, Bidyananda Singh, Modou Sougou, Mohamed Larbi, Diego Carlos, Amine Chermiti

Chennaiyin FC: Vishal Kaith, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Lucian Goian, Eli Sabia, Laldinliana Anirudh Thapa, Edwin Vanspaul, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Rafael Crivellaro, Andre Schembri, Nerijus Valskis

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 87: Mumbai City FC vs Chennaiyin FC

Date: February 21 (Friday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV

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