Both teams have been sturdy at the back and economical in attack…
Mumbai City FC host high-flying Kerala Blasters FC on Saturday night as they hope to bounce back from two winless games in the Indian Super League. With both teams in the top half of the standings and separated by just a single point, Mumbai Football Arena will likely witness a humdinger of a game as the winning side would catapult themselves to the pinnacle of the table.
Diego Forlan-skippered City managed a superb start, winning two games on the trot; however, a run of four games without a win meant their playoffs qualification would not come easy. They have turned the season around as they now find themselves just a single point off table toppers Delhi Dynamos, who failed to secure a four point cusion on Friday night as they succumbed to a 4-3 loss at the hands of minnows Pune City.
Blasters, on the other hand, found featuring in the showpiece tournament beyond the league stages a distant dream with just a single win in the five opening games; however, the return of CK Vineeth and Rino Anto after Bengaluru FC’s AFC Cup Final loss ensured they reinvigorated themselves as they have been defeated just once in the next five fixtures.
City are coming off a stalemate with Goa but, since they seem to have developed an aversion for collecting points at home – their two recent home games ended in 1-0 losses – they may find a vibrant Blasters side hard to defeat. Blasters are heading into the clash on the back of a morale-boosting 3-1 victory over Chennaiyin in the South Indian Derby.
Leo Costa did not feature for the hosts lime out and he remains the only doubt ahead of this one.
Blasters have no majotrr injury concerns and manager Steve Coppel is unlikely to tinker with the combination that has delivered two victories in the last two games.
Head to Head
Goals have always been a rarity in games pitting City against Blasters as they have combined to average just 0.8 goals per game. They are all set to keep up the trend, with City and Blasters boasting the best defensive record and worst goal-scoring record in the division. Neither side has the upper hand, with both sides winning one game each in five meetings.
Man to Watch
Sunil Chhetri-Mumbai City FC: In Sunil Chhetri’s absence, City have found goals hard to come by as Uruguayan Diego Forlan has had no lethal striker playing alongside him; they have scored just nine goals in 11 outings. With the return of the Indian legend, however, they will likely add to their goal tally.
CK Vineeth-Kerala Blasters: Blasters have averaged less than 1 goal per game this season; however, with the return of local hero CK Vineeth, who bagged a brace in the rout of the Marina Machans, they may fancy their chances of finding the net more frequenty. Given City’s poor home record, the loyal Manjapada will hope to see the Indian international striker keep his fine form up.
Mumbai City FC: Amrinder, Khongjee, Gerson, Goian, Ralte, Vadócz, Sehnaj, Defederico, Norde, Chhetri, Forlán.
Kerala Blasters FC: Stack, Chaudhari, Hengbart, Jhingan, Currais, Mehtab, Mahamat, CK Vineeth, Rafique, Belfort, Chopra.
The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2, Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Gold, Star Gold HD, Jalsha Movies, Jalsha Movies HD, and Hotstar.
You can also follow Khel Now’s live text commentary of the game, with our team reporting things as they happen in Mumbai Football Arena.
Photo © ISL Media
Preview by Khel Now Correspondent from Chennai Praveen R. Paramasivam