Mumbai City vs East Bengal: Preview and Prediction
The last fixture of matchday 21 of the 2022-23 Indian Super League season will see Mumbai City taking on East Benga at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday.
This match will be all about personal goals and ambitions, as from the perspective of the league, all three possible results will have no significance. With 46 points from 19 matches, Mumbai City has already won the League Winners’ Shield and their focus has already shifted to the playoffs.
On the other hand, with just 5 wins in 18 games and 16 points in their account, East Bengal has started thinking about next season as the current one is as good as over for them. Sitting in the ninth position, they might still be motivated to avoid the bottom three.
East Bengal has been poor right from the start as they lost four of their first five matches, with a win against NorthEast United being the only exception. Two wins against Bengaluru and Jamshedpur over their next three matches helped the Torchbearers get back on track, but they were derailed soon.
Stephen Constantine’s team lost six of their next seven fixtures – twice against Hyderabad and once each against Mumbai City, Odisha, Jamshedpur and Goa. They did well to beat Kerala Blasters in their next game, but a draw against 11th-ranked NorthEast United and a defeat against Chennaiyin have dented morale in the camp.
Mumbai City’s story is completely the opposite, as they have been in control of the proceedings from the beginning. The start was not as convincing, as Des Buckingham’s team could win only two and draw the other three of their first five fixtures, but they then won 11 matches on the trot.
During this run, the Islanders defeated Chennaiyin and NorthEast United twice, and Bengaluru, Goa, East Bengal, Odisha, Kerala Blasters, Jamshedpur and ATK Mohun Bagan on one occasion each. The unbeaten streak continued for two more games until it was finally broken in the last game as Mumbai City lost 1-2 against Goa.
Head to Head Record
The head-to-head records are completely inclined in favour of Mumbai City. The Islanders have won four of the five past league meetings against East Bengal while the other game ended in a draw – meaning the Torchbearers have never emerged victorious in this particular fixture.
The first meeting of this season, which took place back in December, saw Buckingham’s side securing a comfortable 3-0 win. An Apuia Ralte brace and a Greg Stewart strike helped the Islanders seal all three points at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan.
With a crucial few weeks coming up for this team and this game being a dead rubber, now that Mumbai City can no longer have the ‘invincibles’ tag, Buckingham could give some of his crucial players a day off. In defense, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy could be replaced by Mandar Rao Dessai.
Ahmed Jahouh was replaced by Rostyn Griffiths in the last match and the centre-back could be tried in the midfield position once again in this match. Besides that, Bipin Singh could get some much-deserved rest with Vikram Pratap Singh replacing him.
It will be unsurprising to see Constantine making a number of changes to his starting XI after a disappointing 0-2 defeat against Chennaiyin. Jerry Lalrinzuala had a difficult time against Ajith Kumar in that game, and in his place, Sarthak Golui could be switched to the left-back position. Meanwhile, Mohamad Rakip could get into the vacant right-back role.
Brazilian midfielder Alex Lima will be available for selection after serving his one-game suspension and he is expected to replace Jordan O’Doherty, while to partner him in midfield, Souvik Chakrabarti could get the nod ahead of Mobashir Rahman. Besides that, VP Suhair could barely have any influence in the last game and he could be benched for Sumeet Passi in this game.
East Bengal (4-4-2): Kamaljit Singh; Mohamad Rakip, Lalchungnunga, Charalampos Kyriakou, Sarthak Golui; Sumeet Passi, Souvik Chakrabarti, Alex Lima, Naorem Mahesh Singh; Cleiton Silva, Jake Jervis.
Mumbai City (4-3-3): Phurba Lachenpa; Sanjeev Stalin, Mourtada Fall, Mehtab Singh, Mandar Rao Dessai; Apuia Ralte, Rostyn Griffiths, Alberto Noguera; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Vikram Pratap Singh.
There is a big mismatch between the two teams in terms of the quality of personnel and that is clearly visible from the gap in the standings. With the head-to-head records and home support also working out in their favour, we have predicted Mumbai City to have an easy win in this match.