Bengaluru vs Mumbai City: Preview and Prediction
Two modern-day stalwarts of Indian football, reigning champions Mumbai City and former champions Bengaluru will cross swords in ‘Match 18’ of the 2021-22 Indian Super League season at the Bambolim Stadium on Saturday.
Despite losing a serial winner in head coach Sergio Lobera and a few key players, the Islanders have had an impressive start to their title defense winning two of their first three matches. The Blues have comparatively looked a bit shaky under new manager Marco Pezzaiouli and have accumulated only four points from their first three games.
How have they done so far?
Bengaluru has experienced all possible outcomes in their first three games, winning, losing, and drawing one match each. The Pezzaiouli era started with a promising 4-2 win over NorthEast United where Cleiton Silva, Jayesh Rane, and Prince Ibara got their names on the scoresheet for the Blues while Mashoor Shareef netted an own goal.
The second game came as a harsh reality check as the 2018-19 champions were handed a 3-1 defeat by Odisha. Sunil Chhetri & Co. had to settle for a 1-1 stalemate in the Southern Derby against Kerala Blasters with Ashique Kuruniyan comically scoring at both ends of the ground just four minutes apart.
Like the Blues, Mumbai City also had a convincing start under a new manager in Des Buckingham beating Goa 3-0 in their first match. Igor Angulo scored a brace against his former employers while new signing Ygor Catatau also found the back of the net.
They got a taste of their own medicine in the next game against Hyderabad as former Islander Bartholomew Ogbeche ran riot resulting in a 3-1 scoreline in favor of the Nizams. However, Buckingham’s men made a fantastic comeback by registering a 5-1 triumph against top-table rivals ATK Mohun Bagan maintaining a perfect record of 4 wins in 4 matches against the Mariners.
Head to Head Record
It is neck-and-neck between these two sides in terms of head-to-head results. Out of the eight meetings, Bengaluru has won thrice while Mumbai City has emerged victoriously on four occasions with only one game not producing a winner. The Blues defeated Mumbai by a 4-2 margin in their last clash, but the Islanders triumphed 3-1 in the meeting before that during the 2020-21 ISL season.
Fielding two midfielders in Iman Basafa and Bruno Ramires might have helped Pezzaiouli’s team to dominate possession against Kerala Blasters but they certainly are lacking a cutting edge in attack. The best option available to the German manager is to include all three of Silva, Ibara, and Chhetri in the starting XI with Danish Farooq given a chance to dominate the midfield while youngster Roshan Naorem can make way for Sarthak Golui at the right-back position.
There is hardly any manager who will dare to change his team combination after a 5-1 victory and accordingly we can expect Buckingham to field an unchanged starting XI from the game against ATK Mohun Bagan.
Teenager Vikram Pratap Singh utilized the opportunity he was provided against the Mariners by scoring a brace which should see him retaining his place in the attacking quartet alongside Bipin Singh, Cassinho, and Angulo.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Bengaluru (4-3-3): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Sarthak Golui, Alan Costa, Pratik Chaudhuri, Ashique Kuruniyan; Suresh Singh, Iman Basafa, Danish Farooq; Cleiton Silva, Prince Ibara, Sunil Chhetri.
Mumbai City (4-2-3-1): Mohammad Nawaz; Amey Ranawade, Mourtada Fall, Rahul Bheke, Mandar Rao Dessai; Ahmed Jahouh, Apuia Ralte; Vikram Pratap Singh, Cassinho, Bipin Singh; Igor Angulo.
Pezzaiouli is yet to find the perfect team combination for the Blues with his defenders looking nervous and attackers lacking synchronization. On the other hand, Buckingham’s team is playing sleek and attractive football, slicing through defenses without much hassle. Hence, we have gone with a 2-0 prediction in favor of the Islanders.