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. Continue reading

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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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Atletico De Kolkata vs. Mumbai City FC Preview

ATK Bid for the Top Spot as MBFC Visit

Expect a lot of entertainment as the swashbuckling Mumbai City FC visit the home of Indian football to face Atletico De Kolkata at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata. Considering the previous game between these two teams this season, hosted by Mumbai, this one is going to be highly eventful too.

When Atletico De Kolkata visited Mumbai, the game had everything from goals to yellow cards and physicality to a sending off. Despite what the watchers of ATK may think, it was actually a Mumbai City FC player that was sent off for two yellow cards. It was crucial too because without that sending off, Atletico De Kolkata seemed all set to lose that game. As it was, the sending off allowed them to equalise. That game may be the blueprint for this game.

ATK’s Form & Strategy

sergio-molina-atkAtletico De Kolkata will need to be far more effective in the final third in this game than they were when the two sides met in Mumbai a few days ago. They simply can’t rely on a sending off to have a positive impact on the game. Fortunately, they are in form. In fact, ATK happens to be the only unbeaten team in the league now. More importantly, if ATK’s one game in hand is taken into account, they may well claim the top spot in the league after this game.

ATK has consistency and familiarity on their side since their coach Sergio Molina clearly has a system in place when it comes to formations, tactics, and personnel. He is retaining his team’s shape and formation from game to game and still managing to rotate his squad in and out of it. He has even managed to tweak his style of play on the basis of his opponents’ attacking prowess.

This isn’t something that many teams in the league can claim. This familiarity will come in handy for them. You can expect ATK to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation. They will depend heavily on their home support too. Kolkata is the hub of football in India which means that ATK has the largest support in the league in terms of sheer numbers.

MCFC’s Form & Strategy

alexandre-guimares-mcfcMumbai City FC, on the other hand, can be best described as reeling if you only consider their last few results. They’re on a dismal run and have only garnered two points from the last 12. This is in direct contrast to how they started i.e. six points from six. However, their last two results can be associated with bad luck.

MCFC played very well in their last game against FC Goa. They did everything right except for putting the ball in the net. In the game before that, the score was 3 – 3 which, in itself, is rare and speaks volumes of the type of game it was. Alexandre Guimares, Mumbai City FC’s manager has an attacking style of play and he makes no excuses for it so we can expect MCFC players to come out of the huddle aggressively.

In Which Forest Will The Tree Fall?

This game has entertainment written all over it. Both teams have some really good players. For Atletico De Kolkata, Sameehg Doutie has been in form. While he has scored only two goals till now, he has been a constant thorn in the opponents’ side. With respect to Mumbai City FC, their most in-form player Matias Defederico may be unavailable which could be a body blow for them. They will rely on their marquee player and legendary Diego Forlan even more now.

As the last game between these sides showed, ATK players are far more disciplined and tactical than MCFC players. MCFC players are also competitive to a fault, which means that ATK’s physicality will rile them up. We can expect a few yellows in this game because of this. Even so, the naivety of Mumbai players will tell in this game which is why we’re plumping for a win for Atletico De Kolkata. ATK to take this game with a score line of 1 – 0.

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Delhi Dynamos FC vs. Mumbai City FC Preview

Reeling Mumbai City FC Visit the Capital

India’s capital is all set to see a match between two hard hitters of the Indian Super League as Mumbai City FC visit Delhi Dynamos FC. Delhi Dynamos is one of only two unbeaten teams in the league while Mumbai City FC when fully fit, has played some of the most attractive football in the league.

Delhi Dynamos FC’s Form & Strategy

gianluca-zambrotta-delhi-dynamos-fcThe fact that Delhi Dynamos or The Lions are unbeaten in the league means that their form going into this match is good. They’ve drawn two and won one of their last three games. Notably, in the last game, Delhi Dynamos FC stood toe to toe with the league leaders and the most in-form team in the league, NorthEast United FC. The only reason The Lions lost that game was a mistake from Ruben Rocha. Rocha has been a rock for Delhi in all their games up until he was dispossessed near his goal.

Delhi Dynamos FC also happens to be one of the most consistent teams in the league when it comes to formations. Their high-profile manager, Gianluca Zambrotta, uses the 4-1-4-1 attacking formation. Moreover, Zambrotta doesn’t even like to change his starting eleven, unless forced by fitness issues. In each of the last three matches, his midfield consisted of one playmaker and no less than two wide forwards.

Zambrotta likes to start Florent Malouda, Delhi’s marquee player, in alternate games due to his fitness limitations. Malouda has the pedigree as he’s a four-time French Ligue 1 winner, one time English Premier League winner, and one-time UEFA Champions League winner. Despite the fact that Delhi Dynamos rely on wing play a lot, Malouda (a former France international winger) is deployed in the midfield playmaker position. Zambrotta, incidentally, is a World Cup Winner with Italy and has an amazing 98 international caps.

Mumbai City FC’s Form & Strategy

alexandre-guimares-mumbai-city-fcThe Stallions come into this match against The Lions off a shocking defeat. Mumbai City FC’s first two games in the league were near perfect. In contrast, their last two games have been disappointing. MCFC self-destructed against Atletico De Kolkata through a red card and played like listless zombies in their last loss to the previously woeful Kerala Blasters FC.

In the last game, neither could Mumbai City FC find their attacking touch nor could they discover any kind of defensive cohesion. The Stallions’ combination play, movement, and passing were depressing, to say the least as they kept turning over the ball throughout the game. The 1 – 0 score line in favour of Kerala Blasters FC was flattering for Mumbai City FC who could’ve actually lost by 3 or even 4 goals.

Mumbai City FC’s poor performance can be attributed to their coach’s penchant for tinkering with his team. He has a tendency to keep changing his formations, which prevents his players from gelling. It almost seems like he’s trying to find the right combination of tactics and players in live matches. To be fair to him, he did lose his marquee player Diego Forlan two games into the season and has to compensate since. Forlan is expected to be out for this game as well which doesn’t bode well for Mumbai City FC.

How Will The Dream Totem Fall?

Logic states that Delhi Dynamos FC is better placed for this game than Mumbai City FC. The Lions will have their marquee player and are more coherent in their setup. In contrast, The Stallions neither have their star man nor their confidence. Further, their manager insists on chopping and changing team shape, team style of play, and even personnel.

In simple words, Mumbai City FC is unstable while Delhi Dynamos FC is stable. The winning team, for us, is clear in this game. We predict a win for Delhi Dynamos FC with a score line of 2 – 1 because even an unstable Mumbai City FC is capable of scoring one goal.

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