Mumbai City FC vs. Atletico De Kolkata Semi-Final Leg-2 Preview

League Leaders Go Up Against The Odds As They Take On Seasoned Campaigners

In this second leg of the Indian Super League semi-final, Mumbai City FC will play the visiting Atletico De Kolkata at their home ground, the Mumbai Football Arena. The game is precariously poised since the first leg was won by ATK with a score line of 3-2. This score line is in no way indomitable and is, in fact, quite surmountable for an attacking team playing at home.

Mumbai City FC’s Strategy & Form

lucian-goian-mumbai-city-fcThat description applies to Mumbai City FC but the Mumbaikars will hope that they can do justice to that description. The team that ended the ISL league phase at the top of the table was turned over in sensational fashion in the first leg of the semi-final.

Mumbai City FC doesn’t need to do a lot to achieve that since they already have two away goals to their name. The away goals mean that even a 1-0 score line in their favour will see them go through to the finals. However, as the last game showed, it is unlikely that this game will be a dull affair, regardless of how badly Atletico De Kolkata will want it to be like that.

Mumbai City FC, themselves, set out offensively in most games. Alexandre Guimares, the Mumbai coach, typically sets his team out in the 4-2-3-1 formation with special emphasis on attacking. Mumbai City FC has a free flowing style of play which relies heavily on passing the ball through their playmakers.

Defensively, Mumbai City FC is not that much of a tackling team. Instead, they try to cover passing lanes and intercept passes. In fact, they’re so proficient in interceptions that three of top four interceptors in the league are from Mumbai.

Mumbai City FC’s squad of interceptors is led by Lucian Goian who is also the leading interceptor in the league. He is also the leading tackler in the league. Goian fills multiple shoes for Mumbai City FC actually. Apart from intercepting and tackling, Goian is the leading aerial duel winner for Mumbai City FC.

The biggest challenge for Mumbai City FC in this game will be the absence of their marquee player, Diego Forlan. Forlan, as international football watchers will know, is a globally renowned Uruguayan striker. His absence will be due to two yellow cards in the last game.

Forlan will be missed because he is Mumbai City FC’s primary attacking outlet. He is their leading goal scorer as well as their leading shot taker. More importantly, he is their inspiration owing to his years of experience.

Forlan’s position in the team will be taken up by Matias Defederico, who should be rested since he didn’t start their last game. Defederico, himself, isn’t a chump with the ball since he already has three goals and three assists to his name.

Atletico De Kolkata’s Strategy & Form

iain-hume-atletico-de-kolkataAtletico De Kolkata has a different set of agendas in this game. They simply need to avoid a defeat in this game and they’ll be through to the final. It won’t be easy, however, because they’ll be playing away from home against a team that is very offensively savvy.

Fortunately, Atletico De Kolkata’s strategic approach should stand them in good stead. Like Mumbai City FC, they will also play the 4-2-3-1 formation, albeit in a defensive manner. Atletico De Kolkata will play defensive but they will still be on the lookout for counterattacking opportunities.

They will depend on their midfield maestro, Borja Fernandez, to release those quick counterattacks. Borja is the leading passer in the league which shows the kind of passing range he possesses. He also happens to be defensively proficient since he is the leading tackler for ATK.

Sergio Molina, Atletico De Kolkata’s manager, will instruct Borja and his midfield cohorts to try to release Iain Hume and Helder Postiga. Hume’s pace will particularly play a role in this game in Mumbai. Hume, in fact, was the difference between the two teams in the first leg of the semi-final. Before he decided to take the game by the scruff of its neck, Mumbai City FC were leading 2 – 1.

In this game, Hume’s pace will again play a crucial role. Moreover, Molina may even choose to return the well-rested Javi Lara Grande to his starting line-up purely on the basis of his pace and dribbling skills.

The Intellectual Capital or the Financial Capital?

In this game, we expect Atletico De Kolkata to try to shut down shop and sit back in banks of four to prevent Mumbai City FC from getting through balls off. It will be Mumbai City FC’s attack vs. Atletico De Kolkata’s defence and we expect the latter to prevail.

Atletico De Kolkata is far better placed for this game than Mumbai City FC for three reasons. The first is that they already have a lead to protect. The second is that they are very good in translating their strategic plans into practice on the pitch. And, the third is that even though Mumbai City FC is playing at home, their home turnouts have been mediocre at best.

Mumbai City FC fans are neither large in number nor very vocal. This means that the home advantage isn’t that effective for Mumbai City FC. Effectively, Atletico De Kolkata will not feel any hostility or pressure from the opposing fans in this game. Thus, our prediction is a scoring draw in this game which will put Atletico De Kolkata into the finals to be held in Kochi.a

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The Gaurs vs. MCFC Preview

Cellar Dwellers Hope for a Win in the Maharashtra Derby

Mumbai City FC will travel to The Gaurs’ Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa in the hopes of avenging their defeat in the return leg held earlier in the season. The game will be notable because it is important to both the teams for opposite reasons. For MCFC, this game is important because a win will see them claim the top spot of the Indian Super League table, albeit temporarily. On the other end, a win for FC Goa is important because it will see them climb off the bottom of the table.

The Gaurs’ Strategy and Form

the-gaurs-robin-singhThe Gaurs are coming into this game after a very heartening win. In their last game against NorthEast United FC, they clinched a stoppage time winner, despite being one man down. That win is sure to give The Gaurs a very important shot in the arm considering the circumstances in which it came.

Even with that win and the morale boost it may bring, FC Goa may not be able to stop the rot. They’ve been languishing at the bottom of the table and are barely keeping their hopes of a 2016 semi-final spot alive. Statistics clearly reveal that The Gaurs have been hanging by the skin of their teeth.

This is a team that has conceded the most goals in the league (14) and has scored the second fewest goals (8). This gives FC Goa the worst goal difference of -6 in the league. A more revelatory fact is that The Gaurs have racked up most losses in the league (6 of 10).

The Gaurs’ hopes will rest on slight advantages. In fact, it will be all about psychology for FC Goa. Robin Singh, their current striker, scored his first goal in the last game while Romeo Fernandes, who is possibly their most creative force, has only started showing flashes of brilliance now. More crucially, their first win of the season came against MCFC, something that Zico, their manager, is sure to remind them in his pre-match team talk.

MCFC’s Strategy and Form

mcfc-sunil-chhetriZico’s counterpart, Alexandre Guimares will try very hard to undersell that loss to his players. To be honest, it shouldn’t be all that hard for Mumbai City FC to do that. They’ve been playing fairly well and now have all their key players available. Moreover, even though they lost their last game, it was in controversial fashion. In essence, their last game’s loss was undeserved.

In fact, there’s a lot for MCFC players to play for in this game. A win will take them top of the table. They can actually avenge their unlikely defeat at the hands of The Gaurs, earlier in the season. The best bit is that they’re playing a Goa team that has been struggling all season long for form.

MCFC even has incredibly creative, effective, and exciting players. In their last game, they started extremely creative and dynamic players such as Diego Forlan (their marquee), Matias Defederico (a very versatile and dangerous attacker), Leo Costa (another creative force), and Sunil Chhetri (the iconic Indian national striker). This list doesn’t even include the leading assister in the league, Sony Norde. Norde has 4 assists in the league.

Such is the riches available to Guimares that he chose to not start Norde in their last game. Any of these five players is capable of dismantling any ISL team singlehandedly and each of them is in good form.

Which Way Will the Surf Flow in the Maharashtrian Beach Derby

So, don’t be surprised if all media outlets and football experts in the world peg MCFC for a win over The Gaurs. That’s what we’re doing too. We predict a win for MCFC with a two-goal margin simply because their attacking combos are scary and The Gaurs’ defence is leaky. If you’re looking for a score line, go for either a 3-1 or 2-0 for Mumbai City FC. We also predict a start for Sony Norde and expect him to serve up another assist or goal in this game.

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Chennaiyin FC vs. Mumbai City FC Preview

The Battle for the Top Spot Commences

Mumbai City FC travel south to face Chennaiyin FC at their home, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in what is going to be the battle for the top spot in the league. Both, Chennaiyin and MCFC can take the top spot with a win in this game with the former relying on Goal Difference and the latter on an extra game.

Chennaiyin FC’s Form & Strategy

raphael-augusto-chennaiyin-fcThe reigning champions, Chennaiyin FC, will be coming into this game on a good run of form, which may be slipping. They’ve won 2 of their last 4 games but have only drawn the latest 2. This means that the Super Machans are on a 4-game unbeaten spree, even though they’ve only taken 2 points from their last two games.

Typically, Chennaiyin is a very midfield focused team. Marco Materazzi, their manager, relies heavily on his midfield to perform to churn out results. This is reflected by the fact that their leading goal scorer is the central midfielder, Hans Mulder, with 2 goals. Furthermore, the other central midfielder Raphael Augusto is not only their leading passer but also tackler.

Unfortunately, the Super Machans may be without Mulder since he got injured in the last game. Instead, they will be relying on their combativeness and pure desire to beat Mumbai City FC. Chennaiyin FC players are generally confrontational and don’t back off from a duel. This is clearly a quality that they draw on directly from their manager Materazzi who is known for inciting the infamous head-butt from Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup Final.

Despite the combative nature of the Chennaiyin players, they still allow opposition players to play their attacking game. Chennaiyin keepers collectively have the most saves in the league, which means that their defence lets them down consistently. In spite of this, though, their goalkeeper Karanjit Singh leads the league with three clean sheets. With respect to the playing style, Chennaiyin like their long balls with a special focus on diagonals which brings in their wide forwards into the game. You can expect the same style of play against Mumbai City FC.

Mumbai City FC’s Form & Strategy

pronay-halder-mumbai-city-fcIt will be interesting to see how Mumbai City FC players cope with the inherent combativeness of Chennaiyin players mainly because MCFC players are prone to picking up cards. In fact, MCFC is a very card friendly team. Two MCFC players, Pronay Halder and Sehnaj Singh, lead the league on the table of shame with 4 yellow cards each. Needless to say, this tendency will be something that Alexandre Guimares, MCFC manager, will have to consciously root out for this game.

While midfielders like Halder and Singh were losing their way, another MCFC midfield Lucian Goian was keeping things together. His game is the foundation that MCFC launch their attacks out of because he wins the ball back and serves it through a simple pass to more creative players.

Mumbai City FC is actually a good attacking team too. While many of the recent results haven’t gone in favour of MCFC, that is only because they’ve been unlucky. MCFC has played most of their games on the front foot but has failed to convert the chances they’ve created. Most notably, they attack as a team and have a good passing game.

This is proven by the fact that goals and assists are shared equally amongst the MCFC players. Even so, the most key combination for MCFC will be Matias Defederico and Diego Forlan. Whenever the two play together, MCFC looks almost irresistible.

How Will The Scales Weigh?

As a matter of fact, if Defederico and Forlan start this game, then in our eyes, an MCFC win is certain. Even if they don’t start together, we believe that their passing game will prove to be too much for Chennaiyin FC. We predict a score line of 2 – 1 in favour of MCFC with Defederico either scoring or assisting.

You can also expect a few yellow cards in this game owing to the fact that MCFC players are generally prone to being warned and Chennaiyin players rarely ever back off from a fight.

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