The semi-final across two legs will be an exciting clash of two giants of Indian football.

Mumbai City and Bengaluru FC will face off in the first semi-final of the ISL 2022-23 campaign. It is gearing up to be an exciting contest between two teams who boast of quality players in their line-ups, both domestic and foreign. The first of the two fixtures take place on 7 March and the second takes place on 12 March 2023.

The Blues ended the Islanders’ undefeated run in the ISL, preventing them from finishing the season without tasting any defeats. Therefore, there is added tension between the two teams in addition to the highly intense competitiveness. 

The fixture across two legs will produce entertaining football. While it is hard to predict which team will win and move to the final, one can expect the following three key battles to play an important role in the outcome of the first-leg fixture:

3. Jorge Pereyra Diaz vs Sandesh Jhingan

Sandesh Jhingan celebrating the win over Kerala Blasters in the first knockout tie. (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Jorge Pereyra Diaz is the leading goal-scorer for Mumbai City this season with 11 goals. On top of that, he has six assists in 18 appearances. The striker will be an obvious threat for Bengaluru FC and the Blues will rely on Sandesh Jhingan to silence the in-form attacker.

Sandesh Jhingan is an essential part of Bengaluru FC’s defence. He is adept at sniffing penetrative through balls and winning aerial duels. His experience will be key in denying someone like Jorge Pereyra Diaz who can hurt any opposition with his movement and finishing. Also, with nine consecutive victories and no losses in 2023, the entire Bengaluru FC unit is looking dangerous and Jhingan currently, seems to be the boss managing the defensive unit!

2. Apuia vs Rohit Kumar

Apuia celebrating his goal against East Bengal. (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Lalengmawia ‘Apuia’ Ralte is one of the best Indian midfielders around. His playmaking capabilities are crucial to Mumbai City’s prowess in midfield. Des Buckingham’s trust in the player gives him a lot of confidence.

On the other hand, Rohit Kumar is one of the best-performing players for Bengaluru FC this season.

He has adapted to the club quickly and established himself as a regular starter. He has played 898 minutes in the league and has scored three goals. Winning the ball and retaining possession will be key and one can expect both Apuia and Kumar to clash on several occasions in order to do that for their team.

1. Roy Krishna vs Mourtada Fall

Mourtada Fall in action against Hyderabad FC. (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Roy Krishna is the biggest threat in Bengaluru FC’s forward line. He is the player that the Islanders must watch out for. His movement in the box and finishing from distance makes him a tricky operator. He came close to scoring on a few occasions against Kerala Blasters in the knockout fixture too! The striker has five goals and five assists this season and will hope to add more in the upcoming fixture.

The duty to stop Krishna from scoring will fall on Mourtada Fall. The tall defender will rely on his physicality to keep the striker at bay. In a situation where Buckingham opts to start Rostyn Griffiths ahead of Fall, then it will be a battle between Krishna and him for an inch of space and the ball. 

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