Mumbai City vs Hyderabad: Preview and Prediction
The top two ranked teams in the league table are all set to lock horns as table toppers Mumbai City gear up to host Hyderabad at the Mumbai Football Arena in a fixture which could decide the fate of the 2022-23 Indian Super League Winners Shield.
The Nizams did not feature in matchday 17 and thus they trail the Islanders by 7 points but they also have a game in hand. Thus, a win for the defending champions on Saturday would take them within 4 points of Des Buckingham’s side. The top-two ranked teams are currently the best placed to win the Shield and confirm their berths in the semifinals.
It will be a battle of the attacking might of the Sky Blues and the defensive resilience of last year’s champions. The club owned by the City Football Group are undefeated so far in this season and may well go on to finish as the first ever ‘invincible’ team in the league’s history but standing in their way will be the Nizams who have conceded just 9 goals all season.
It will be a momentous occasion and certainly, if Buckingham’s side can avoid a defeat, they would virtually guarantee themselves the first silverware of the season and put one foot in the semifinals.
Needless to say that both these clubs have been the most consistent and thus there’s a huge gap between the second-placed defending champions and third-placed Kerala Blasters.
Meanwhile, the Islanders have had a near-flawless campaign so far with 13 wins from 16 matches, having taken 42 points while scoring the most goals in the league (47), and letting in just (14), the third-best tally in the division.
The Nizams meanwhile have played 15 games, won 11 of those, amassing 35 points, scoring 30 goals which are the joint-second best in the league, and they have conceded the fewest goals, just 9. Buckingham’s side comes into this fixture on the back of a 2-1 win away to Jamshedpur, having won their last 11 games.
Marquez’s side meanwhile dropped points in a recent 1-1 draw at home against Chennaiyin. The visitors will have to take the onus and take the game to the Sky Blues to overtake them in the league table.
When it comes to the past record between these two sides, they both stand on equal terms having won 2 games apiece of the 7 meetings in the league.
The remaining 3 matches ended all square. The last time when Marquez and Buckingham came face to face their teams played out a thrilling 3-3 draw earlier in October this season.
The Nizams have played the same starting XI for their past two matches and after a week’s break, it will be interesting to see how they will line up for arguably the most crucial match of the season so far.
Their Spanish coach isn’t likely to tinker too much with his 4-2-3-1 formation with Gurmeet Singh between the sticks. Nikhil Poojari, Odei Onaindia, Nim Dorjee Tamang, and Akash Mishra will marshal the defense with the double pivot of Borja Herrera and Hitesh Sharma operating in the engine room.
Indian wingers Mohammad Yasir and Rohit Danu will provide pace and trickery, while Bartholomew Ogbeche will start in behind Javier Siverio.
On the other hand, Buckingham’s side is likely to line up in their favored 4-3-3 with the everpresent Phurba Lachenpa in goal, behind a back four of Sanjeev Stalin, Mourtada Fall, Mehtab Singh, and Mandar Rao Desai.
The midfield trio of Lalengmawia Ralte, Ahmed Jahouh, and Greg Stewart will provide creativity and steel, while Bipin Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte will supplement Jorge Pereyra Díaz in the attack.
Predicted Starting XIs
Hyderabad (4-2-3-1): Gurmeet Singh Chahal; Nikhil Poojari, Odei Onaindia, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Akash Mishra; Borja Herrera, Hitesh Sharma; Mohammad Yasir, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Rohit Danu; Javier Siverio.
Mumbai City (4-3-3): Phurba Lachenpa; Sanjeev Stalin, Mourtada Fall, Mehtab Singh, Mandar Rao Desai; Lalengmawia Ralte, Ahmed Jahouh, Greg Stewart; Bipin Singh Thounaojam, Jorge Pereyra Díaz, Lallianzuala Chhangte.
It will be a battle of epic proportions when the top two sides in the league come face to face and if their last meeting was anything to go by, fans are in for a treat. Given the attacking threat of the Islanders and the defensive resilience of the Nizams, the two sides may well cancel each other out, and thus a draw would be a fair result.