A heated past in the summer is expected to result in a fiery rivalry on the pitch which will make the fixture more fascinating.

FC Goa will face Mumbai City FC at the Fatorda Stadium in a cracking contest that is gaining significant traction due to the developing rivalry between the two sides. Sergio Lobera’s men will be edging to prove a point against the Gaurs, especially after their Indian Super League campaign opening defeat against NorthEast United. The tactician will have to work out his ideal XI, given Raynier Fernandes being doubtful, the suspension of Ahmed Jahouh and ineffectiveness of Bartholomew Ogbeche in their opening game.

FC Goa, under Lobera, used to comprehensively dominate the Islanders previously. Having switched allegiances with a host of players, Sergio Lobera will be yearning to put a strong display of his mettle in the coming game. Considering the squads of FC Goa and Mumbai City FC, it is safe to say that a few key individual contests will largely determine the outcome of this encounter.

Here, we take a look at the three key player battles when the Gaurs face the Islanders on Wednesday evening.

3. Igor Angulo Vs Mourtada Fall

Mumbai City clearly missed the towering presence of Mourtada Fall at the heart of their backline against NorthEast United. Although Hernan Santana did a fairly decent job, Fall’s presence could have made the Spaniard play further ahead and possibly influence the game more prominently.

Watch: Mourtada Fall’s goals and assists in IS L2019-20

Nevertheless, the Senegalese centre-back was named as one of the substitutes against the Highlanders and could be inducted in the starting XI against his former club.

On the other hand, Igor Angulo displayed some clever poaching abilities to bag a brace and level the scores against Bengaluru FC. He looked sharp, alert and seems to possess a laudable ability to put the ball into the back of the net at the slightest of opportunities. The Gaurs look to have landed a formidable striker and his battle against Fall will be highly looked forward to in the upcoming game.

Fall has recorded 2.77 tackles and 9.62 clearances on an average per game in his ISL career. In addition to his commendable aerial abilities, the 32-year-old is rock solid in terms of anticipating and thwarting attacking moves inside and near the 18-yard box. He can arguably physically overpower the FC Goa forward too, compelling Angulo to work around a way to get past the centre-back. The battle between these two throughout the course of the game is bound to have a key impact on the eventual result.

2. Hugo Boumous Vs Brandon Fernandes

Hugo Boumous’ debut for the Islanders was quite underwhelming, as the attacking midfielder looked all over the place and struggled to positively affect the proceedings. The French-Moroccan plays best when he operates in and around the penalty box, which was not the case in the game against NorthEast United.

However, Boumous will be the critical creative lynchpin of the team in the absence of Ahmed Jahouh. The incumbent ‘Golden Ball’ winner will be expected to link the midfield to the forward line and deliver some incisive passes upfront. His former teammate Brandon Fernandes will don a similar role for the Gaurs.

Watch: Brandon Fernandes’ all goals and assists in ISL 2019-20

Fernandes sparked Goa’s turnaround in their encounter against Bengaluru FC, as his penetrative pass perfectly set up Angulo’s first goal of the night. It remains to be seen whether the FC Goa midfielder will start the game against Mumbai City FC or not.

Both these players used to wreak havoc by playing in tandem until last season. In this campaign, they will be individually responsible for carrying out the creative duties for their respective teams. The number 10 who dictates the tempo of the game more assertively will propel their team to success in this match.

1. Rowllin Borges Vs Lenny Rodrigues

In Jahouh’s absence, Mumbai City FC midfielder Rowllin Borges is expected to marshal the midfield with some additional responsibilities against FC Goa. The 28-year-old will possibly restrain his temptations to make some forays ahead. Borges’ impeccable defensive abilities coupled with his ability to distribute the ball well at the flanks mean that he can operate from a deep-lying role against FC Goa.

His counterpart Lenny Rodrigues will have a very similar role to play for Ferrando’s side. Though Rodrigues might not attempt expansive passes like Borges, he will play as an anchorman. Both these players will be tasked to shield their defensive lines and initiate passing moves from the middle of the park.

ALSO READ: Preview: Wounded Sergio Lobera faces former employers FC Goa in titanic tussle

Rodrigues had a quiet game against Bengaluru, but that could change when FC Goa come up against Mumbai City FC at Fatorda Stadium. The likes of Boumous and Santana will regularly look to break the opposition’s midfield line and Lenny Rodrigues will be instrumental in preventing that from happening.

On the other hand, Borges made five tackles, three interceptions and clearances each and a couple of blocks in 90 minutes against NorthEast United. He often dropped back to add up numbers in the defensive line and allow the fullbacks to march ahead from the flanks. Borges and Rodrigues will be looking to pull the strings from deep midfield. Needless to say, the player who does this simple yet extremely crucial job more efficiently will put his team in a better place to secure the victory.

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