Mumbai City vs NorthEast United: Preview and Prediction
This will be an interesting spectacle, as the best team in the competition will cross paths with the worst side so far. On one hand is Mumbai City, who have not put a foot wrong this season. The Islanders are the only team to have remained unbeaten so far, and with 36 points from 14 matches, they are placed at the top of the table.
On the flip side, NorthEast United happens to be the only team who has won less than two matches. The Highlanders have picked up only four points from 14 matches, which has kept them firmly at the bottom of the standings.
Unlike what the standings might portray, Mumbai City was not sailing from the very beginning. In fact, they won only two of their first five matches – against Odisha and Kerala Blasters, while clashes against Hyderabad, Jamshedpur and ATK Mohun Bagan ended in draws.
At the same time, it should be mentioned that the last draw came way back in November, and over the last two months, Des Buckingham’s men have won nine matches on the trot. During this run, they defeated Chennaiyin twice and won once each against Bengaluru, NorthEast United, Goa, East Bengal, Odisha, Kerala Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan.
As for NorthEast United, they have been on a disappointing journey from their first match itself. The Highlanders lost all of their first ten matches – against Bengaluru, Hyderabad, East Bengal, Jamshedpur, Kerala Blasters, ATK Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City, Odisha, Chennaiyin and Goa.
It was in their 11th game that the Highlanders finally managed to open their points tally, as they handed the Mariners a 1-0 defeat. However, Vincenzo Alberto Annese’s men then lost back-to-back matches, before restricting Goa to a 2-2 stalemate in their last outing.
Head to Head Record
The head-to-head records are inclined in favour of Mumbai City. The Islanders have won eight of the 17 league meetings between these two teams, with the Highlanders winning on five occasions. Besides that, four matches ended in draws.
The last meeting, which took place back in November, resulted in a 3-1 win for Mumbai City. Ahmed Jahouh, Bipin Singh and Jorge Pereyra Diaz were on the scoresheet for Buckingham’s team, while for NorthEasrt United, Parthib Gogoi was the lone goal-scorer.
While his team produced one of the better performances of the season in the last match, Annese might still have to make changes to his starting XI. The official confirmation is yet to arrive, but rumours suggest that Spanish midfielder Jon Gaztanaga has already played his last match for the club.
In his place, Romain Philippoteaux could be reintroduced to the team. Besides that, Jithin MS also had a day to forget against the Gaurs, as he missed some gilt-edged chances. He might have to make way for Rochharzela in this match.
Similarly, Buckingham is also likely to make changes to his team, despite the 1-0 win against ATK Mohun Bagan last time out. Argentine goal machine Diaz will be available for selection once again, having served his one-game suspension.
This might force the Spanish tactician to switch back to his 4-2-3-1 setup, with Diaz playing up front and Greg Stewart playing as a number 10, which subsequently means Alberto Noguera will have to be benched. Besides that, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy also had a poor game against the Mariners and he could be replaced by Mandar Rao Dessai.
Mumbai City (4-2-3-1): Phurba Lachenpa; Rahul Bheke, Rostyn Griffiths, Mehtab Singh, Mandar Rao Dessai; Rowllin Borges, Ahmed Jahouh; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Greg Stewart, Bipin Singh; Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
NorthEast United (4-3-3): Mirshad Michu; Alex Saji, Gaurav Bora, Aaron Evans, Hira Mondal; Emil Benny, Romain Philippoteaux, Pragyan Gogoi; Kule Mbombo, Wilmar Jordan, Rochharzela.
There is no aspect where NorthEast United has the upper hand currently, with Mumbai City leading the race in terms of form, head-to-head records and strength on paper. Hence, we have predicted the Islanders to have a comfortable victory in this match.