East Bengal vs Mumbai City: Preview and Prediction
The recent comebacks of the underperforming sides have made the playoff qualification scenario enthralling as we will witness the Playoff race getting even more intense in Matchday 15 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League.
The champions of the 2024 Super Cup East Bengal and Mumbai City will be locking horns in search of league prominence. This action-packed footballing saga will take place at the iconic venue of Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata this Tuesday.
It’s been two months since the Red and Gold Brigade registered their last three-point prowess in the domestic top-flight league. Hence, it is high time for the Kolkata-based outfit to end their five-match winless run as the race for the sixth playoff spot is also tightening up.
The Islanders lost their claim on the fourth position after being overtaken by Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the previous matchday. This forthcoming contest in Kolkata is the golden opportunity for the Sky Blues to not only regain their place in the Top 4 but also go two points clear of the Mariners.
The Red and Gold Brigade received a bitter welcome upon returning to the domestic league as the champions of the Kalinga Super Cup. After compromising for a draw with the arch-rivals Mohun Bagan Super Giant, they suffered a 3-2 tragic defeat at the hands of NorthEast United.
The Highlanders thoroughly dominated the Torchbearers in Guwahati and claimed all three points, turning down the fighting spirit of the visitors.
Like Carles Cuadrat’s men, Mumbai City had an unwelcome return to ISL as they lost 3-2 to Jamsdhedpur at the Mumbai Football Arena. Tiri and Alberto Noguera scored in the first half to gain a comfortable lead but two quick goals from Imran Khan and Jeremy Manzorro levelled the scoreline by the hour mark.
Daniel Chima Chukwu did well to earn a penalty in the last few minutes of regulation time and Manzorro did well to step up and convert the spot-kick to complete a massive second-half comeback win.
Head to Head Record
The rivalry between these two footballing powerhouses is not very old but is renowned for delivering intense low-scoring thrillers year in, and year out. There have been a total of 8 encounters across all competitions till now and the Sky Blues are leading the head-to-head record by 4-2 while the other two face-offs could not produce the results.
The 2018 Super Cup edition hosted the inaugural clash where the eventual runners-up East Bengal eliminated the Mumbaikars in the Round of 16 by 2-1. It took two years for the Islanders to avenge their defeat when they welcomed the debutant EB side to the Indian Super League with a 3-0 blow in 2020.
The most recent chapter of this rivalry took place in December 2023 and it resulted in a goalless draw in Mumbai. It was also the first home fixture for the Mumbai City gaffer Petr Kratky as his men delivered a fine performance but still could not find the breakthrough.
The Islanders’ roster was already weakened with the departure of big names and the unavailability of existing key names has increased more trouble for Kratky. In addition to Jorge Pereyra Diaz’s four-match suspension, Yoell van Nieff and Mehtab Singh will be also serving a one-match suspension following their fourth yellow card on Sunday.
Meanwhile, there is also some good news for the West Coast Brigade as the Syrian defender Thaer Krouma has joined the training camp and might make his debut in Sky Blues this week.
With Saul Crespo missing due to an injury and skipper Cleiton Silva suspended for the next fixture after accumulating four bookings throughout the season, Felicio Brown is expected to make his maiden start in the Red and Gold colors.
The 32-year-old forward scored his maiden ISL goal in the 3-2 defeat to NorthEast United and would be hoping to score more goals this season.
Predicted Starting XIs
East Bengal (4-3-3): Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Mohammad Rakip, Hijazi Maher, Lalchunchnunga; Ajay Chhetri, Jose Antonio Pardo, Victor Vazquez; Naorem Mahesh Singh, Felicio Brown, Nandhakumar Sekar
Mumbai City (4-3-3): Phurba Lachenpa; Rahul Bheke, Thaer Krouma, Tiri, Valpuia; Alberto Noguera, Apuia, Vinit Rai; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Iker Guarrotxena, Bipin Singh
It is one such ISL clash where there will be no sign of surprise if either of the sides emerges victorious at the full-time whistle. New signings and Petr Kratky’s brand of football are enough to not rule out the Islanders from the winning equation even if they are the visitors.
The Torchbearers may have not tasted victory for the last five games but the advantage of home conditions strengthens the possibility that they will be settling for nothing less than a win at home.