Mumbai City vs Kerala Blasters: Preview and Prediction
The action-packed caravan of Matchday 3 of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season will end with an encounter between two heavyweight sides.
Mumbai City will be returning to Mumbai Football Arena to feature in their first home fixture of the tenth edition. The Islanders will be up against the invading southerners Kerala Blasters in high-profile combat this Sunday before disbanding for a two-week international break.
Unlike every other ISL campaign, the Blasters had a solid start to this season as they collected six points in the first two matchdays. Gaffer Ivan Vukomanovic and his boys will be visiting the Maharashtrian capital city with an aim to only sustain their winning run but also dethrone Mohun Bagan Super Giant from the pole position.
Meanwhile, the Islanders are currently seated in the fourth position of the standings having four points from two games under their helm. Des Buckingham settled with a draw outcome in his most recent away appearance but he will be now eyeing nothing less than a triumph at the season’s first home game.
Mumbai City had a thrilling encounter with Odisha in their previous fixture where the play consummated in a 2-2 scoreline at Kalinga Stadium. The Islanders were in a trailing position when the game entered the final minutes and then an 88th-minute late equalizer from Jorge Pereyra Diaz stunned the Juggernauts.
They also had an away AFC Champions League tie with the Uzbek outfit Navbahor Namangan which resulted in a 0-3 defeat for the Sky Blues.
On the other hand, Kerala Blasters enjoyed their successive win to kick-start the tenth edition after edging past the eastern counterparts Jamshedpur. The Red Miners were pushing the play towards another goalless draw but the winning goal by the skipper Adrian Luna eventually came to the rescue for the Yellow and Blues in the 74th minute.
The Tuskers may have secured three points but their offensive performance was not up to the mark as they managed to put up only three shots on target in the entire play.
Head to Head Record
These two Indian top-flight clubs are two of the eight founding members of the Indian Super League and have been battling against each other ever since its inception.
Mumbaikars have always been dominant over the Southerners as the Blasters managed to register their first triumph in this rivalry only in the eighth face-off and the head-to-head record also favors the Mumbai-based side 8-4. The Islanders have bagged a whopping tally of 28 goals from 18 battles while the Kochi-based club could only pull off 14 goals.
In the most recent chapter of this rivalry, the Sky Blues first outclassed Kerala Blasters at Kochi by 2-0 and then crushed the same opposition with a four-goal difference in a returning fixture at home.
The former KBFC knight Jorge Pereyra Diaz who now leads the offense unit of Mumbai graced the scoresheets of both of those games and has netted four goals in the last four clashes of this rivalry while playing for either of both of these sides.
Phurba Lachenpa has marked his return to action after recovering from the injury which ruled him out of the opening two ISL fixtures and is likely to don the gloves on Sunday.
The likes of Rahul Bheke and Bipin Singh were benched for their AFC Champions League clash and the right-back is expected to come back into the starting XI while the winger could again come off the bench.
The Tuskers’ interim boss, Frank Dauwen has entrusted a 4-4-2 formation in the season’s first two fixtures and is likely to retain the same in this forthcoming game as well.
The only change in the Blasters’ Starting XI from the Jamshedpur game we may expect is Dimitrios Diamantakos replacing the Ghanaian forward Kwame Peprah. The 30-year-old Greek striker made a cameo substitute appearance against the Red Miners after being subbed on in the 62nd minute and went on to assist Luna for the winning strike.
Predicted Starting XIs
Mumbai City (4-3-3): Phurba Lachenpa; Rahul Bheke ©, Rostyn Griffiths, Tiri, Akash Mishra; Vinit Rai, Apuia, Greg Stewart; Gurkirat Singh, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Lallianzuala Chhangte
Kerala Blasters (4-4-2): Sachin Suresh; Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Milos Drincic, Aiban Dohling; Daisuke Sakai, Jeakson Singh Thaunaojam, Danish Farooq, Mohammed Aimen; Adrian Luna ©, Dimitrios Diamantakos
We will get to see a throbbing encounter between these two combatants as this will be the ISL match before a 12-day halt of the international break. The home side is the slight favorite to win this contest courtesy of the home conditions but their hectic travelling schedule of the previous week could favor the Blasters.