Mumbai City FC will kick off the tenth matchweek of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season under the helm of new head coach Petr Kratky against FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium on December 12, Tuesday. Overcoming unpredicted obstacles helps champion sides reiterate their credentials. The first half of the current campaign of the Islanders has seen a large part of focus being on their AFC Champions League run.

However, since they are done with the continental championship now, they can slowly get back in the groove in the Indian top-tier. They didn’t take too much time to hit the ground running last week, hitting four goals past Bengaluru FC to show that they will continue to play the way symbolic with them despite the change in guards at the top.

FC Goa, on the other hand, comfortably sits at the top of the table with 19 points from six victories and a draw in seven matches. They have barely put a foot wrong so far, and will present a fitting challenge in front of the in-form Islanders. Marquez always relished his contests with Mumbai City FC during his stint with Hyderabad FC, and he will be keen to take them on in his new avatar with the Gaurs, who have not won in any of their last eight games against the incumbent League Winners Shield holders.

What’s at stake?

FC Goa

The Gaurs have endured a somewhat a dream start to the season and they must ensure that they are able to extend this purple patch for as long as possible. In all fairness, Marquez has a wholesome grasp over what he is doing. Right from the recruitment to the implementation of the playing style, the seasoned tactician has hit the sweet spot in all concerned areas thus far. They can strike two targets with one arrow on the back of a possible win in the coming encounter.

First, they will be able to strengthen their spot atop the standings, and secondly they can temporarily ward off a challenge from one of their closest competitors for the big laurels this season. Their backline has been rock-solid thus far, conceding only thrice in seven games until now, which is the least goals they have given away at this stage of any campaign in the ISL.

Simultaneously, they have embraced a direct, concentrated offensive approach, recording 37.6 penalty area entries per game, which is the highest amongst all teams in the competition thus far. This impeccable blend amongst all areas of their gameplay holds them in fantastic stead for the coming game. They have also won their previous three matches on the bounce, and the last time they had gone on a similarly long winning run in the ISL was that of five games between January-February 2020.Catch the highlights from FC Goa’s last match here:

Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC would have taken incredible confidence from their previous outing, and the arrival of Kratky should make them buoyant with belief at the moment. They seem to have shooed away concerns regarding their form at the Asian stage to sustain their stronghold in the ISL. The Islanders, as a club, have grown exponentially in stature lately.

It is not as easy to break through the Mumbai City FC defensive unit, with significant work and rebuilding being put through in each of their departments for the Islanders to reach the stage that they are at today. One of the keys to their success has been their flawless form on the road, with the team scoring at least once in each of their previous 16 away encounters. It is the joint-longest such streak for any ISL team along with Chennaiyin FC.

They have consecutively won their previous four encounters against FC Goa, and a victory in this match will result in their longest winning run against a single opponent in competition history, along with NorthEast United FC. The Islanders have a chance to stake a claim for the top spot with a win in the home turf of a team unbeaten in the season so far. Rest assured, they will be prepared to take this opportunity with both hands.

Catch the highlights from Mumbai City FC’s last match here: 

Key Players

Jay Gupta (FC Goa)

The fullback has been one of the emerging stars of the tournament in the past few months, with his industriousness at the back coupled with creativity upfront making up for an incredible package unearthed by the FC Goa management. He has won back possession 9.1 times per game in this campaign, which is the highest amongst all Indian players in the league.

The 22-year-old has made 2.7 tackles on an average in every match, coupled with creating 1.1 goal-scoring opportunities in each game across his seven appearances. Gupta also has a goal and an assist to his name. Every youngster relishes the prospect of locking horns against the best in the business, and Gupta will be edging to go full throttle and be at the top of his game in his first faceoff against the Mumbai City FC.

Lalengmawia Ralte (Mumbai City FC)

The midfielder is central in the plans of Mumbai City FC, helping them gradually gain control over the game and set the tempo of the proceedings with his relentless work ethic, and terrific ball-playing skill sets. He can break defences with his splitting passes, and at the same time work his way up the field by forming passing triangles that completely catches the opposition off guard.

He has won back possession 8.2 times per game across his six appearances in this campaign, and recorded a passing accuracy of 87%. He has created four goal-scoring opportunities, netted once, and was one of their most promising performers from the team’s run in the AFC Champions League as well. His footwork and tendency to get into important positions leads to him winning several fouls on the field too, presenting Mumbai City FC the opportunity to capitalise upon set-pieces. His role in helping the Islanders outplay the Gaurs at the centre of the park will be interesting to see on Tuesday.

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Played – 22

Mumbai City FC – 10

FC Goa – 7

Draws – 5

Trivia: Mumbai City have made 39.2 successful long passes per game in the current ISL season, which is the highest amongst all teams in the league.

Team Talk

“It’s (ISL) very similar to the A-League, which will make the transition much smoother for me. I am looking forward to the game. We have had a conversation about what we can expect from FC Goa, because they are a top team. I am actually excited and looking forward to seeing where the team is at against the best, so that we can go from here about how we can adapt and make everything work,” Mumbai City FC head coach Petr Kratky said in the pre-match press conference.

“We are focusing on tomorrow’s match, but it’s true that the feeling is that we will see in two games where FC Goa can arrive in this season. I am optimistic about this situation, but obviously we are still unbeaten in the competition. My experience in ISL is that if you win all the other games, because one day we will lose, it’s very difficult to not lose in the 22 games, but we will try that our first defeat won’t be tomorrow,” FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez mentioned.

ISL Fantasy

Jay Gupta (3.7cr)

One of the standout stars from the FC Goa ranks this season

Sandesh Jhingan (5.2cr)

Guarantees putting in an impressive defensive shift consistently

Jorge Pereyra Diaz (8.9cr)

Six goals in as many league appearances for the Argentine striker in ISL 2023-24

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Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 SD & HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam) & DD Bangla (Bengali). In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries