Odisha FC and Mumbai City FC will kick off the new year with a clash in matchweek 13 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The last time these two sides met earlier this season, the Islanders wrapped up all three points with a clean sheet. The visitors continue to remain unbeaten this season, but will face a stiff challenge to keep that up at the Kalinga Stadium, where Odisha FC have only dropped points once - during a draw - this season.

On the flip side, that draw has come during Odisha FC’s ongoing run of form, which is their lowest point this season. The Juggernauts have failed to win their last three games and failed to score in all of them, securing just a solitary point in the process. In their last game, Odisha FC fell to a late defeat, just four minutes from time, against Kerala Blasters.

Two of their last three games have involved at least one key player missing due to suspension. On Monday, Saul Crespo is expected to be back in the starting XI against Mumbai City FC after serving his suspension. Head coach Josep Gombau has the chance to field his strongest side against the Islanders. (Club statistics)

“The way we approach the game, it’s [always] the same - trying to press very high, trying to have the ball as much as we can. We are not a team that are designed to wait for the opponents and sit back,” said Gombau. “With the movement that we’re working, with the mentality of the players, we will have our chances and we need to take these chances. Even when we played against them away, it was a game that was decided at the last moment. We will have our moments, and we need to take it.”

Mumbai City FC will begin the new year as the only unbeaten side in the league. A win will take the Islanders back to the top of the table. So far, Mumbai City FC have won eight out of their eleven games while scoring 32 goals, eight more than Hyderabad FC who are their closest competitors on that front and have played one game more.

Greg Stewart has the join-highest goal contributions in the Hero ISL this season. The midfielder has seven assists and four goals in eleven games so far. The pacey duo of Bipin Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte have been hard to stop on the flanks and will be the key attacking outlets once again for the Islanders as they look to reclaim first position from Hyderabad FC. (Club statistics)

“Motivation-wise, I do not have to do much because our players are very humble and good. I am very happy with the performances and results so far,” said Buckingham. “What is important now is tipping over to the other side of the season and making sure we continue to try getting better game by game. The next game is against Odisha and that will help us push ourselves in the direction we want to go,” he added.

The two sides have clashed previously on seven occasions and the record is only slightly tipped in Mumbai City FC’s favour. The Islanders have notched a victory on four occasions, while the Juggernauts have clinched three wins. Hero ISL standings