Wednesday’s hosts are done playing second fiddle to the team from the neighbouring metropolis and are the favourites of many to pip them to a playoff place this season.
The Maha Derby has always been a spectacle to behold in the Indian Super League (ISL) and will be an exciting encounter this season too when FC Pune City host Mumbai City FC at the Balewadi Stadium on Wednesday. These two teams have created quite a fiery rivalry in the past few seasons in the ISL and will be fighting for bragging rights and points in what is expected to be a hotly contested match.
Much more than the three points, it is pride which is at stake as all roads in Pune lead to the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, as fans from Mumbai and Pune are set to invade the venue on Wednesday. FC Pune City will look to prove that their thumping win over champions ATK was no fluke, while Mumbai will seek to build on the hard-fought win against FC Goa at the weekend. Ranko Popovic can establish himself as a favorite amongst the home fans with a win against the near neighbours. Pune will also look to overturn their dismal defeat to Delhi Dynamos last week and give the fans some joy by defeating their old foes.
Amrinder Singh hoping for big support from away fans against host Pune City
Mumbai City have had a topsy-turvy start to the ISL this season, and they’re yet to be completely convincing in the eyes of many. Alexandre Guimaraes’ side fought through for a win against FC Goa, but there’s a lot riding on their match against Pune. Mumbai will need to win the bragging rights and three vital points as they seek to take their season into next gear. They can also overtake Pune in the standings with a win in this one.
Marcelinho has proved to be quite the magician Pune city in the last two matches. But, in a game like a football, it is teamwork which makes things happen. The overseas recruits including the likes of Marcelinho, Marcos Tebar, Diego Carlos and Emiliano Alfaro make up the formidable frontline. First-choice goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh should continue to retain his place between the sticks after an impressive showing against the champions that belied his tender years The winner of the Moment of the Match award, Rohit Kumar will extend his hold on a place in midfield. Midfielder Jewel Raja who has only featured for a minute so far in the league continues to remain absent.
On the other hand, Balwant Singh’s bad patch this season should be a concern for the Islanders. The striker is yet to prove his worth for Guimaraes’ side. Besides Amrinder Singh, Sehnaj Singh and Sanju Pradhan., Everton Santos has been one of their key performers. The only concerns for the visitors are defenders Aiborlang Khongjee and Davinder Singh who are both nursing injuries.
FC Pune City have enjoyed quite a lot of success in the Maha Derby in the past few seasons, with the Stallions winning three of the six matches played between the two, while Mumbai have won two. The last match between the sides ended with FC Pune City winning at the Mumbai Football Arena last season. However, the two’s last meeting at the Balewadi Stadium ended with Mumbai coming out victorious with a 1-0 win.
Man to Watch
Rohit Kumar-FC Pune City: Midfielder Rohit Kumar has been in good nick for the Stallions in the midfield, and his blistering header against ATK showcased his capability. Besides the goal, the midfielder was one of the standout players for the Stallions against ATK and is fast emerging as one of the brightest young talents in the league this season. He will once again be out to impress against rivals Mumbai.
Everton Santos-Mumbai City FC: The Brazilian attacking midfielder has been the livewire of the Mumbai side. The ‘Smiling Assassin’ as he has been labelled by some fans, has made the playing arena much more than a sailing club. It is his brilliance with the ball and his body language which has mesmerized many players. The opportunist as he has been striking the ball well and grabs any chance that comes his way. His canny sense of anticipation is the main weapon, which he exhibited in the win against Goa.
FC Pune City: Kamaljit, Baljit, Lopez, Gurtej, Fanai, Marcelinho, Tebar, Kumar, Isaac, Diego, Alfaro.
Mumbai City FC: Amrinder, Rozario, Gerson, Gaikwad, Gaikwad, Sehnaj, Emana, Pradhan, Ruidas, Balwant, Santos.
Did You Know?
Mumbai City FC’s Lucian Goian accounted for 67 tackles which were the most by a defender in the entire 2016-17 season.
FC Pune city, have struggled in an attack in the last editions as they scored just 13 goals lowest by any team in ISL 2016.
Mumbai’s only win against Pune came in the corresponding fixture last season when a Matias Defederico goal handed them the win.
The match will be broadcast live on Star Sports 2 and Stars Sports 2 HD 7.45 pm onwards. It will be also available for live streaming on Hotstar and Jio TV.