Both teams need a winning start…
FC Pune City face off against Mumbai City FC in the first round of fixtures in the third edition of the Indian Super League on Monday.
The Maharashtrian rivals finished in 7th and 6th positions respectively last season, a result which both sides considered a failure as they both missed out on semi final berths. They have had similar track records in both editions of the competition so far.
In preseason, both teams managed to remain unbeaten in all their games. Pune City held a month long training camp in Spain, whereas the Mumbai side trained in Dubai before setting up base in their home cities. The Pune side have spent the most time as a team in preparation for this year’s ISL.
Starting their season at home, Pune have all players fit and available after Eidur Gudjohsen, their original marquee player and Andre Bikey both left the squad to tend to their injuries. Replacement marquee player Mohamed Sissoko was confirmed by The Stallions fitness coach Miguel Martinez to be fit and available. But whether he starts or not is another thing as he only joined the squad a couple of days ago.
For the visitors from Mumbai, there are no new injury concerns. The only players to miss the opener are expected to be Sunil Chhetri, Amrinder Singh, Udanta Singh and Lalchhuanmawia who are all still on duty with parent club Bengaluru FC.
Head to Head:
The Maha Derby has kicked off four times in the ISL so far, with Pune holding a 2 wins to 1 advantage over their rivals. The Stallions have won both their home games at the Balewadi Stadium, the score line being 2-0 and 3-1 in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Man to Watch
Jonatan Lucca-FC Pune City: The team in Orange and Purple meanwhile will be relying on former FC Goa player Jonatan Lucca to be the link between defence and attack. The Brazilian was fantastic for the Goans last year, scoring 3 and assisting twice as they reached the Final of the competition. The Pune side will hope for a similar impact as owner Gaurav Modwel has already indicated. They will also be relying on ‘keeper Apoula Edel Bete in goal behind a possibly shaky defence.
Diego Forlan-Mumbai City: The signing of the Uruguayan was met with great excitement amongst all quarters of Indian football fans and he should be Mumbai City’s star man upfront, leading the attack especially in the absence of Sunil Chhetri. Forlan is playing in the Indian Super League for the first time, after having represented Penarol back in his home country. The former Manchester United and Atletico Madrid superstar is expected to be fit and lead the line.
FC Pune City: (4-4-1-1) Edel, Ravanan, Ferreira, A. Fernandes, Narayan Das, Arata Izumi, Arias, Tato, Oberman, Lucca, Zurdo
Mumbai City FC: (4-4-1-1) Volpato, Khongjee, Anwar, Goian, Ralte, Norde, Sehnaj, Vadocz, Defederico, Forlan, Sangoy
The match will be teleacast live on Star Sports 2, HD2, Star Sports 1, HD1, Star Gold, Star Gold HD, Jalsha Movies, Jalsha Movies HD and Hotstar. You can also follow Live text commentary of the game on Khelnow.com.
Preview by Khel Now Correspondent from Pune Miqdad Haider.