Mumbai City vs Odisha: Preview and Prediction
The final episode before the Grand Finale of the 2024 Kalinga Super Cup will see the tournament’s two deadliest sides battling out for the last final ticket.
Odisha led by manager Sergio Lobera will be fielding a guard in the second semi-final clash with the ultimate aim of becoming the first club to successfully defend the rebranded Super Cup title. The Juggernauts’ fortress Kalinga Stadium is set to be raided by the ISL heavyweights Mumbai City this Thursday.
Mumbai City’s newly arrived bossman Petr Kratky became the first manager to take the Sky Blues into the semi-final round of Super Cup competition. The ISL’s solitary double-champions crushed the strong contentions of Gokulam Kerala, Punjab, and Chennaiyin on their way to the top of the Group C table.
The defending champions have advanced to the knockout stages of the 2024 Super Cup with an incredible track record of not losing a single game over the past two editions. After eliminating his first Indian employer in the virtual quarter-final clash, Sergio Lobera is eyeing to dismiss the title contention of yet another former club.
Each and every group game presented a new challenge for the Islanders but Petr Kratky and his boys ensured that they would stay invincible on the final whistle of all occasions. They were engaged in a do-or-die battle with Chennaiyin in the final group appearance where the qualification ticket was at stake.
A 24th-minute strike from the Mizoram defender Valpuia brought all difference in the intriguing 1-0 clash and extended Mumbaikars’ stay in Odisha further.
When Goan forward Carlos Martinez scored in the 76th minute in the recently concluded group fixture, it was the first time the Juggernauts’ defense conceded a goal in the year 2024.
Despite conceding two late goals, Lobera somehow managed to daunt the Gaurs from staging a comeback and secured the semi-final berth with a 3-2 victory. Odisha has been in tremendous form and has scored a whopping tally of 11 goals in their last four competitive appearances.
Head to Head Record
After shifting their base to the capital city of Odisha, the Juggernauts have faced the Islanders nine times in the Indian Super League and presented a tough challenge that was not seen before.
The Kalinga Warriors emerged victorious in the first two encounters with the Westerners in the 2019-20 season but could manage to secure only a single win afterwards. Meanwhile, Mumbai City regained their dominant position in this rivalry and is currently standing with five wins and one draw under the helm.
The most recent chapter of this rivalry that occurred at this very same venue was a thrilling four-goal contest in MatchDay 2 of the 2023-24 ISL. When only 5 minutes of regulation time were left on the clock and the home team was leading by 2-1, it was Mumbai’s star striker Jorge Pereyra Diaz who scored the 88th-minute equalizer to stun the crowd in Bhubaneswar. It was also the first instance when the Juggernauts dropped points in the Sergio Lobera Era.
Petr Kratky gave more emphasis on stability and momentum rather than making hefty changes during the group stages and the Czech-born general is also expected to do the same while finalizing the Starting XI in this forthcoming contest. The only major in MCFC’s lineup from their recent appearance we can speculate is the return of Abdenasser El Khayati in the forward line replacing Ayush Chhikara.
Sergio Lobera’s decision to field the entire foreign roster against Goa paid off handsomely for the Eastern Dragons. The Japanese midfielder Cy Goddard who made his first start in this tournament impressed everyone by troubling the Gaurs defense to the core. However, Jerry Lalrinzuala’s poor performance may force the Juggernauts to try out Vignesh Dakshinamurthy for the left-back position.
Predicted Starting XIs
Mumbai City (4-2-3-1): Phurba Lachenpa; Vinit Rai, Hmingthanmawia, Yoell van Nieff, Nathan Rodrigues; Franklin Nazareth, Alberto Noguera; Jayesh Rane, Abenasser El Khayati, Gurkirat Singh; Jorge Pereyra Diaz
Odisha (4-3-3): Lalthuammawia Ralte; Amey Ranwade, Carlos Delgado, Mourtada Fall, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy; Ahmed Jahouh, Cy Goddard, Puitea; Roy Krishna, Diego Mauricio, Isak Vanlalruatfela
Lobera and his side is the team that knows very well about capitalizing the advantage of home turf and spectators into results. The Islanders did manage to get away with a point during their last visit to Kalinga Stadium but the circumstances will be even tougher for the Mumbaikars this time. Hence, we may get to witness yet another high-scoring contest between them but the chances of Odisha ending up on the winning side are very much bright.