The West Coast Derby returns in the Indian Super League (ISL) with FC Goa facing Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) on Wednesday. The game holds immense significance for the Gaurs, who have now been dealt three losses in a row after a run of 12 unbeaten games in the league.

Hurt by injuries to key players like Victor Rodriguez and Sandesh Jhingan, FC Goa has worn a disoriented look lately, letting a two-goal lead slip away to concede four strikes in the second half against Kerala Blasters FC in Matchweek 16.

Having slipped to fifth in the table, the Gaurs now have 28 points from 15 matches, four behind the top-placed Odisha FC (32), who have played an additional game (16) as well. Their remarkably strong start to the season has ensured that they aren’t significantly far off from the coveted first place despite the recent setbacks. Against them is a Mumbai City FC unit that has kept three consecutive clean sheets since their 3-2 loss to Jamshedpur FC earlier this month.

They have scored five goals in the process, which includes two late strikes in the previous match against Chennaiyin FC, securing them three points from a fairly challenging away encounter.

What’s at stake?

Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC boasts of a formidable recent record against FC Goa, remaining unbeaten in their last nine clashes against them. They have won five of these games and drawn four times. In fact, the last time Mumbai City FC lost to FC Goa in the ISL was over four years ago, in February 2020, by a 5-2 margin!

By all means, Petr Kratky & Co. will be eager to extend this run to 10 matches after the forthcoming fixture. The Islanders have notched nine goals in their previous four home games, demonstrating some good goal-scoring form in their backyard.

They have given away only four strikes in the time being, demonstrating a fine balance that the team has struck on both ends of the pitch.

Their aerial prowess is palpable, scoring six headed goals this season – the most amongst all teams. At the same time, FC Goa has not conceded any headed goal in ISL 2023-24, demonstrating their defensive discipline in this aspect.

Will the Gaurs be able to put a stop to Mumbai’s dominance in the air?

FC Goa

Besides their losing streak of three matches, the Gaurs have also failed to find the back of the net in their previous two games. The last time they went on a longer streak without scoring a goal was of four games from December 2015-October 2016.

However, that shouldn’t take anything away from the tremendous talent they displayed early on. In fact, their tally of 28 points from 15 games is the highest points they have accumulated since winning 30 of them in the same number of games in the 2019-20 season.

They are stable starters, conceding only five goals in the first half of their games in this campaign.

This is the least tally recorded by any team in this aspect this season. Simultaneously, they have scored 13 goals in this period, which is the third-highest amongst all teams, after Odisha FC (19) and Mohun Bagan Super Giant (14).

Manolo Marquez will be eager to ensure that his team pegs the Islanders back in the proceedings right from the offset tomorrow.

Key Players to Watch Out

Bipin Singh (Mumbai City FC)

Bipin Singh made heads turn with his second-half brace after coming on as a substitute against Chennaiyin FC. This season hasn’t particularly gone his way, featuring in only 12 games and averaging 59.58 minutes per match in ISL 2023-24.

Bipin has taken six shots, but scored from three of them, indicating that he perhaps needs to back his instincts more often in the final third. The winger averages 18 passes per game at 80% accuracy, winning three aerial duels, earning fouls, and notching an assist so far in this campaign.

As the season gears up to enter its business end, it’s about time that he plays more consistently and thus has a chance to showcase his prowess tangibly in terms of goal contributions.

Mohmmad Yasir (FC Goa)

The attacking midfielder joined the FC Goa ranks from Hyderabad FC in January, and even netted in challenging circumstances away from home against Kerala Blasters FC. He has scored two goals and assisted once in 15 appearances in ISL 2023-24. Mohmmad Yasir has taken 10 shots, created 15 goal-scoring chances, and averaged 26 passes per game at 76% accuracy.

His fleet footedness with the ball has earned him 16 fouls and the player has chipped in defensively with four interceptions as well. Yasir is adept at finding ways past the opposition’s defence, breaking past the backline with his vision for a goal.

He will hope to grow more in confidence and performances under Marquez’s watch for the rest of this season.

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Head-to-Head

Played – 23

Mumbai City FC – 10

FC Goa – 7

Draws – 6

Trivia: FC Goa’s Noah Sadaoui has averaged 3.9 dribble attempts per game in ISL 2023-24, the highest rate amongst all players combined.

Team Talk

“We are very happy with the entire squad. The players who come in, they make an impact and the young players blend well with the experienced stars too,” Mumbai City FC head coach Petr Kratky appreciated the contributions of his players amidst their current run of impressive form.

“If we win tomorrow (on Wednesday), we are second with one game less than the first-placed Odisha FC. How is the mood? Of course, it’s always better when you win rather than when you lose, isnt’ it?” FC Goa head coach Manolo Marquez mentioned in the pre-match press conference.

ISL Fantasy

Jay Gupta (3.5cr)

Standout performer on both ends of the pitch.

Rahul Bheke (3.8cr)

Delivers consistent returns defensively.

Lalengmawia Ralte (4.5cr)

Connects the midfield to the frontline of the home team.

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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.