The unbeaten FC Goa unit will welcome Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) as the two title contenders try to build pressure on table toppers Odisha FC at the Fatorda Stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 at 7:30 pm IST on February 14, Wednesday.

With eight victories and four draws, the Manolo Marquez-coached side have been on a roll since the offset of the ISL campaign. They (28) are merely three points adrift of the Juggernauts (31) despite playing three (12) fewer games than Sergio Lobera & Co (15).

Winning this game, they will get level on points with Odisha FC and thus replace them at the pole position, thus staking a realistic claim of lifting the League Winners Shield. The team had inflicted mayhem upon the Mariners the last time these teams clashed in the ISL in December. Winning 4-1 courtesy of a Noah Sadaoui brace, the Gaurs made light work of the Kolkata-based side at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant raced to their first after four games when they overcame Hyderabad FC by 2-0 on Saturday. The team must be pleased with under-firing stars like Anirudh Thapa and Jason Cummings getting on the scoresheet and will want their power-packed squad to strike in coordination to deliver improved performances in their coming 10 league matches.

What’s at stake?

FC Goa

FC Goa boasts of a formidable recent record against the Mariners, having won two out of their last three fixtures. However, a league double over the concerned opposition has eluded them still. Manolo Marquez will be eyeing to get that under their belt, as a victory against one of the competitors for the top spot will give their run in the season a significant boost. The Gaurs had incidentally failed to score in their latest league encounter at home, which was a goalless draw against Mumbai City FC.

Never has the team failed to find the back of the net twice consecutively at home, and hence one can bank on Carlos Martinez and his fellow forwards to be constantly teasing the Mohun Bagan Super Giant backline. The Gaurs have averaged 36 penalty area entries per game this season, which is the highest amongst all teams. In addition to this, they have conceded the least goals (6) amongst all teams and the entire team right from the back to the top appears to be functioning with tremendous coordination and consistency.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant

Mohun Bagan Super Giant are separated from league leaders Odisha FC (31) by eight points (23), having played three fewer games (12) than the Juggernauts (15). Despite the three consecutive defeats they faced in December and then the draw in the Kolkata Derby, the Mariners are well-placed to bridge this gap and have a definite chance of challenging for the League Winners Shield. The team has been on an impressive streak on the road lately.

They lost their most recent away encounter by 2-1 against Mumbai City FC, but were on a six-match unbeaten streak away from home before that. They have netted once each in each of their last five away games. The team has shown a remarkable spirit in storming their way back into games, having won eight points from losing positions in ISL 2023-24. The squad thus has it in it to ride over the difficulties they faced earlier in this campaign and if the win against Hyderabad FC is anything to go by, then an enthralling contest is on the cards for Wednesday.

Key Players

Jay Gupta (FC Goa)

The fullback has been a revelation for FC Goa this season, emerging as one of the finest fullbacks in the competition. With two goals and assists each, he has made his mark felt upfront in 12 appearances thus far. Jay Gupta has 12 interceptions, 20 clearances, and 25 appearances as he has been extremely active on the defensive front.

The 22-year-old has created 13 goal-scoring opportunities, averaging 42 passes per game at an accuracy of 75%. He scored a breathtaking equalizer against Odisha FC in the last match and will be eager to deliver another impactful outing in this major encounter. His skills at the back will be put to test by the likes of Manvir Singh and Dimitrios Petratos, and hence Gupta will have to find a fine balance between his duties on both ends of the pitch against the Mariners.

Sahal Abdul Samad (Mohun Bagan Super Giant)

The Mohun Bagan Super Giant attacking midfielder has influenced proceedings extensively in his limited appearances in the league so far. With four assists in eight games, Sahal Abdul Samad has made his presence felt in the frontline, even setting up the equaliser by Petratos in the Kolkata Derby in the 88th minute of the match. He has been impressive in finding pockets of spaces in the final third and delivering key, precise passes that have been converted by his forwards. Sahal has averaged 27 passes per game, with a 78% accuracy overall. He has earned nine fouls, making six interceptions as well. Having taken eight shots, he has often been in the lookout for goals as well. Will he net for the first time this ISL season in the game against the Gaurs? Only time will tell.

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Played – 7

FC Goa – 2

Mohun Bagan Super Giant – 4

Draws – 1

Trivia: Liston Colaco is one away from becoming the leading assist provider in Mohun Bagan Super Giant history. He is currently tied on 12 assists with Roy Krishna.

Team Talk

“My feeling is that we have two big injuries in Sandesh (Jhingan) and Victor (Rodriguez), and even then the playing style is practically the same. Some things in the team will or are changing. We need to adapt in our ideas, minus the situation, in some games I feel that we will play with two foreign centre-backs, which will be the first time that I will do that in India, or in some games we will play with an Indian and a foreign centre-back,” FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez said in the pre-match press conference.

“We are thinking about the entire team and our opponents, i.e. FC Goa, not one particular player, because for me the most important things are my players and my team. We can analyse our opponents, sure, but the focus must always be on our side,” Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas quipped ahead of the game.

ISL Fantasy

Jay Gupta (3.6cr)

Four goal contributions in the ISL this season

Arshdeep Singh (3.5cr)

Has helped the team keep seven clean sheets this season

Jason Cummings (9.1cr)

Scored in the last game vs Hyderabad FC

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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 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. 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.