Mumbai City FC will welcome NorthEast United FC at the Mumbai Football Arena for their Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 clash on  Tuesday. The Islanders have a task on their hand now, with respect to defending their ISL League Winners Shield title.

They have been replaced by the Mohun Bagan Super Giant at the top of the standings, with both teams accumulating 36 points each, albeit the Mariners doing so in a game fewer (17) than the Islanders (18). With Odisha FC (35 points from 18 games) and FC Goa (32 points from 17 matches), breathing down their neck, Mumbai City FC have no scope of committing any error anymore.

To be fair, they have been in good form lately, accumulating 11 points out of a possible 15 from their previous five matches. Against them is a NorthEast United FC unit that has dropped eight points out of a possible 12 in their previous four encounters.

They were handed a 1-0 loss by Punjab FC in the last game, but the team is still just a point behind (20) the sixth-placed Jamshedpur FC (21), and has a game in hand (18), as compared to the Red Miners (19). The team has shown that it can pack a punch and has a frontline that punishes the opposition for any defensive mistakes.

Hence, the Islanders cannot afford to take the Highlanders lightly by any stretch of the imagination.

What’s at stake?

Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC is unbeaten in its last five face-offs against NorthEast United FC in the ISL.  In fact, the Islanders have won thrice consecutively against the Highlanders now. They have never gone longer without a loss to NorthEast United FC in the competition.

The team has defeated the Highlanders twice consecutively at home now. A victory here will equal their longest such stretch against the opposition, after a run of three wins from October 2015-February 2018.

The team has averaged two strikes per match in their last five games in the competition, which is a significant mark-up of the one goal per game they averaged in the five prior such encounters. The philosophy that they adopted since 2020 has stayed on across the years and under different head coaches.

For example, they have recorded 155 open-play sequences of 10+ passes in the ongoing season, the second highest by any side this term behind Odisha FC (195).

Contrastingly, NorthEast United FC has recorded the fewest such sequences this season (38), which suggests that this is going to be a clash of two absolutely opposite playing philosophies.

NorthEast United FC

The Highlanders have not faced defeat in their previous two away games. The last time they went on a longer such stretch was of four matches from October-December 2019.

Quite different from the approach of the Islanders, NorthEast United FC is averaging 72.3 long passes per game in the current ISL campaign, which is the highest amongst all teams in the competition.  However, the Highlanders have the lowest pass completion rate on such passes in the competition this term (40.9%), reflecting that the Islanders have work to do to improve their adopted approach.

The last fixture between the two teams had resulted in a 2-1 win for Mumbai City FC, and be rest assured that NorthEast United FC will give them a run for their money in this match.

Key Players to Watch Out

Alberto Noguera (Mumbai City FC)

The Spanish midfielder has settled seamlessly in the heart of the Mumbai City FC lineup. He has logged a pass completion rate of 79.8% for passes ending in the final third since the start of 2024 in the Indian Super League, the second-best such pass completion rate after Boris Singh (82.8%) in the same span (minimum 50 passes ending in final third).

He has scored and assisted once, in addition to attempting 55 passes per game, and completing 88% of them on average. Noguera has created 10 goal-scoring opportunities.

His nimble footedness has helped him earn 13 fouls and he has also contributed defensively with seven interceptions until now. His contributions will have to be kept close tabs on by the NorthEast United FC unit.

Jithin M.S. (NorthEast United FC)

Jithin M.S. has been a livewire in the NorthEast United FC frontline throughout the season. He was constantly troubling the Punjab FC backline with his sharp movements and deliveries into the box despite the defeat.

Overall, he has scored once and assisted thrice in this campaign. He has earned 12 fouls, won six aerial duels, averaging 16 passes per game at 74% accuracy. Jithin has created 16 goal-scoring chances and taken 18 shots in total. His interlinking with Parthib Gogoi and Nestor Albiach will be central to the goal-scoring prospects of NorthEast United FC.

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Head-to-Head

Played – 19

Mumbai City FC – 10

NorthEast United FC – 5

Draws – 4           

Trivia: Lallianzuala Chhangte has accumulated an expected assist (xA) value of 1.48 since the start of 2024 in the league, the highest such value by any Indian player in the competition in the same span.

Team Talk

"I am very positive. This group is special. They have a lot of quality. But, we have to keep working in the right way until the end," Mumbai City FC Head Coach Petr Kratkysaid in the pre-match press conference.

"We could have taken a better result in the last game, but our performance was not bad and that is the most important thing. Our objective is very clear. It's to try to perform and try to do new things every day," NorthEast United FC Head Coach Juan Pedro Benali mentioned before the match.

ISL Fantasy

Akash Mishra (4.7cr)

Has collected 55 ISL fantasy points so far

Bipin Singh (7cr)

Has garnered 50 ISL fantasy points until now

Jithin M.S. (3.9cr)

Has bagged four goal contributions in ISL 2023-24

If not registered already, fans can participate in the overall league or club-based leagues based on their preferences. Create private leagues, inviting friends and fellow football aficionados to compete. Prizes include a Sony PlayStation ®️ ️5 gaming console, EA Sports FC 24, signed club merchandise, and a Gift Card worth INR 20,000, which will be awarded to 100 winners at the end of the season. Sign up at: https://fantasy.indiansuperleague.com/

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.