Mumbai City vs Goa: Preview and Prediction
Des Buckingham’s men have played some scintillating football this season, and slowly but steadily have caught up with Hyderabad who at one point in time, seemed to be running away.
Having lost two matches back-to-back, they allowed the Islanders to leapfrog them on the league standings, and the City Football Group-backed club look like the team to beat this season. They come into this fixture on the back of a comfortable 3-1 win over NorthEast United, with goals from Ahmed Jahouh, Bipin Singh and Jorge Pereyra Diaz ensuring all 3 points.
Whereas, the Gaurs endured a 2-0 defeat at home to Bengaluru in their most recent fixture with Javi Hernandez’s brace spoiling the party. Carlos Pena’s side will hope to bounce back to winning ways, but they will have their work cut out against arguably the strongest-looking unit in the league so far.
The Mumbai-based club have momentum on their side, and they have yet to lose a single game in the league this term. Their opponents of this week, have endured a mix-bag of results, and thus the Goan outfit has fallen to fifth place in the standings.
Needless to say that Buckingham’s men have been on a red-hot scoring streak, having scored the most goals by any team this term (23), which has helped them to win five of their eight games so far. The Islanders have thus amassed 18 points and will look to further cement their grip at the top by beating the Gaurs.
They began their league campaign with a 3-3 draw against the Nizams but defeated Odisha 2-0 to pick up their first win, although Mourtada Fall and Co were held by Jamshedpur 1-1 in their next outing. A routine 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters follow suit, after which they played out an exciting 2-2 draw with the Mariners.
Since then, the Mumbai Football Arena-based outfit has embarked upon a three-match winning streak, hammering Chennaiyin 6-2 and Bengaluru by 4-0 before their most recent win over the Highlanders.
On the other hand, Pena’s men began their campaign brightly by beating East Bengal 2-1 and Chennaiyin 2-0, before they were given a harsh reality check by the defending champions as they lost 0-1.
The Virat Kohli co-owned club have since endured some mixed results, with alternate wins and defeats. They prevailed over Jamshedpur 3-0, but lost 3-1 against the Blasters, but gained momentum again by winning 3-0 against the Mariners, although the 0-2 reverse at the hands of the Blues knocked the wind out of their sails.
Matches between these two sides have always been closely contested and that shows in the head-to-head record as well. They have squared off on 20 occasions to date, with the Islanders having a slight edge as they prevailed 8 times, while their adversaries won 7 matches, and the remaining five games ended all square.
Buckingham’s men won both matches against the Gaurs last season, including a 2-0 win in their most recent meeting in February earlier this year.
The CFG-owned club have a settled playing XI, with coach Buckingham not likely to tinker too much with his side. The goalkeeper and the defence are pretty much sorted, but the Englishman has shown some flexibility given the wealth of attacking options he can choose from.
Phurba Lachenpa, Rahul Bheke, Rostyn Griffiths, and Mehtab Singh are all certain, but it remains to be seen who among Sanjeev Stalin and Vignesh Dakshinamurthy starts at left-back.
Similarly, Greg Stewart and Ahmed Jahouh have been pillars of success for the Islanders, with Vinit Rai and Apuia vying for a place in the midfield. Up front, the tried and tested trident of Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, and Jorge Pereyra Diaz will hope toad to their goal-scoring tally.
Elsewhere, Pena has also not experimented much with his playing XI too much in recent weeks. Dheeraj Singh will continue between the sticks, with Seriton Fernandes, Marc Valiente, Anwar Ali, and Aibanbha Dohling marshalling the defence.
Ayush Chhetri and Edu Bedia have forged a good partnership in the middle of the park, with Redeem Tlang and Noah Sadaoui expected to fight it out for a place alongside the ever-present Iker Guarrotxena and Brandon Fernandes. Alvaro Vazquez will lead the line for the Gaurs.
Predicted Starting XIs
Mumbai City (4-3-3): Phurba Lachenpa; Rahul Bheke, Rostyn Griffiths, Mehtab Singh, Sanjeev Stalin; Greg Stewart, Ahmed Jahouh, Vinit Rai; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
Goa (4-2-3-1): Dheeraj Singh; Seriton Fernandes, Marc Valiente, Anwar Ali, Aibanbha Dohling; Ayush Chhetri, Edu Bedia; Redeem Tlang, Iker Guarrotxena, Brandon Fernandes; Alvaro Vazquez
The Gaurs will have their work cut out against the Islanders. Having won three matches back-to-back, and the manner in which they have dominated some of their opponents, Buckingham’s men look like genuine contenders, but Pena’s side has also shown signs of promise and they can give the league leaders a tough fight. A draw would be the most likely outcome, with both sides expected to cancel out each other’s brilliance.