The Islanders must win to have any chance of making the last four.

There is plenty at stake for Mumbai City FC when they take on FC Pune City in the second Maharashtra derby of the Hero Indian Super League at Mumbai Sports Arena on Sunday. The home side needs nothing less than a win to keep their hopes of making it to the top-four alive. And head coach Alexandre Guimaraes and his team are very well aware of this.

“We know that there is still a possibility for us to win the league given the results of others teams during the week. The players are trying to understand that. Tomorrow is a good chance for us to continue to be in the race,” Guimaraes said at the pre-match press conference ahead of the Sunday clash.

Currently seventh on the ISL points table with 17 points from 13 games, Mumbai City FC still has an outside chance of making it to the top four, but they need to start winning games. Mumbai City’s home form hasn’t been great having lost three successive matches here — 1-2 to Jamshedpur FC, 0-2 to Bengaluru FC and 0-1 to Kerala Blasters FC. So now the onus is on Lucian Goian and his boys to put their house in order.

Talking about the team’s performances in the last few games, Guimaraes said, “When you have the chances you have to convert.  We are playing against a team that is coming closer to their objective of making it to the top four. So they’ll try to put pressure on us. But we are ready, we’ll continue what we have been doing in terms of our performances.”

Guimaraes also backed his misfiring forward Balwant Singh to do well in tomorrow’s game against FC Pune City. “Everybody has a bad day, but he is rearing to go for tomorrow’s game,” the coach said. 

FC Pune City, on the other hand, are second in the league standings and will now look to consolidate their position in the top four. Though their head coach Ranko Popovic was absent from the touchline in their last game, Pune City still managed to eke out a last-gasp victory over NorthEast United FC in their previous game. 

With 25 points from 14 games, Pune City are quite close to achieving a top-four finish for the first time in their ISL history, but assistant coach Vladica Grujic warned against any complacency. 

“No game in the ISL is easy. We need to play our best tomorrow to get the right result,” he said. When the two teams met last in Pune in November, the Pune outfit defeated Mumbai 2-1. 

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Head to Head

Mumbai City FC 2 – 4 FC Pune City (1 draw)

Key Players

Everton Santos (Mumbai City FC)

The Brazilian has brought a lot of fluidity into the Mumbai attacking line. He uses his pace and dribbling ability to good effect, outpacing and outfoxing many a defence. A clinical finisher and a crisp passer of the ball, Everton has four goals and as many assists to his name this season. He will look to influence and guide his side to a much-needed win against Pune.

Marcelinho (FC Pune City)

Marcelinho has carried his form from last season into the ongoing campaign. He has been at his free-scoring best and has taken it upon himself to tear apart any defence that he comes up against. A quick player and a deadly finisher, the Brazilian has scored seven goals with the same amount of assists as well. He will look to inspire the Stallions to another victory in the den of their local rivals on Sunday.

Probable Lineups

Mumbai City FC

Alexandre Guimaraes may opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation that would add versatility both in attack and defence.

Goalkeeper: Amrinder Singh

Defenders: Raju Gaikwad, Lucian Goian, Gerson Vieira, Sanju Pradhan

Midfielders: Everton Santos, Achille Emana, Sahil Tavora, Abinash Ruidas, Thiago Santos

Forward: Balwant Singh

Islanders head coach Alexandre Guimaraes on his team’s objectives ahead of the match: “What you have to do is to win your own games. But of course, in our case we have to continue to do what we have been doing in terms of performance. We have been performing really well especially in the last two games, but you have to take your chances when you get them. We will have to be the one to take the initiative. We have had a good week of practice, and we are ready to give it our best.”

FC Pune City

Ranko Popovic may counter with his own 4-2-3-1 formation, with Emiliano Alfaro spearheading the Stallions’ attack.

Goalkeeper: Vishal Kaith

Defenders: Sarthak Golui, Gurtej Singh, Rafael Lopez, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai

Midfielders: Diego Carlos, Adil Khan, Jonatan Lucca, Marcelinho, Ashique Kuruniyan

Forward: Emiliano Alfaro

Pune’s assistant coach Vladica Grujic on his team’s mentality for the match: “Of course, this is an important game – the Maharashtra derby. I assure you that Mumbai will give it their all in the starting minutes to assert command over the game. But we know this, and for our team it is important to have a winning mentality. We want to win every game, and tomorrow will be no different. We want to have a good performance tomorrow.”

Key Stats

  • Both sides have lost four home matches so far

Last Encounter

FC Pune City 2 – 1 Mumbai City FC (29th November 2017 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune)

Form Guide

Mumbai City FC: L W L L D

FC Pune City: W L W W L