After a cursory breather from league action, we are back!
In the hunt for a much-needed win, the Islanders resume their Hero ISL campaign at the home of the defending champions. Mumbai City FC make the trip down south to face 2018-19 Hero ISL Champions, Bengaluru FC in a mouth-watering clash tomorrow, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here in Bengaluru.
Three consecutive draws. Winless in six games, since the opening game. Seven points in seven games. All is not rosy in the Islanders’ camp. After throwing away the lead twice, first in Guwahati followed by the stoppage-time drama in Kolkata, Jorge Costa’s side was made to rue plenty of missed chances. The Islanders made the return to the Arena last week to face the Blasters, but could only manage yet another draw.
Amine Chermiti’s scrappy equaliser saved the blushes for the Mumbaikars after Amrinder Singh fluffed Messi Bouli’s shot and parried it into his own net. Not the way Paaji will have wanted to mark his 50th appearance for the club. Now unbeaten in three – albeit with three draws – Jorge Costa has stressed that his side need to start converting these ties into wins if the Islanders want to put up a showing that matches their ambitions.
The first of two consecutive mammoth away fixtures, a daunting trip awaits the former Portugal international and while he will have memories of last season’s strong showing at the Sree Kanteerava, the Boss will be looking to progress from last year’s solitary point to the full three points that the Islanders could definitely do with.
Focus: Bengaluru FC
After the heartbreak in the 2017-18 Hero ISL Finals, losing out the trophy to Chennaiyin FC in their own backyard, Bengaluru FC made amends in the 2018-19 season. Carles Cuadrat’s side culminated last season by lifting the trophy after coming out 1-0 victors against FC Goa at the Mumbai Football Arena.
After their first Hero ISL title, it has been a mixed summer for the defending champions. On one hand, they lost the services of their talisman Miku but in addition to retaining a large chunk of the squad, they fortified their roster with the high-profile signings of Brazilian Raphael Augusto and one of India’s brightest prospects, Ashique Kuruniyan.
Despite making a slow start with three draws in their opening three games, Bengaluru FC have struck a rich vein of form and find themselves a point from the top, only behind ATK. Bengaluru FC also remain the only unbeaten side in the league so far but what’s far more striking is their defensive record. Carles Cuadrat’s side has conceded only two goals in the seven games they’ve played – only one of them from open play with the other coming from a penalty.
The defending champions have been grinding out results in this campaign and have begun to showcase consistency and grit on the pitch. While the Islanders have been unbeaten on the road so far this season, Jorge Costa will be wary of the challenge the defending champions will pose to stop his side from picking up the full points.
Form Guide (Last Five Games)
Bengaluru FC: D-W-W-D-W
Mumbai City FC: L-L-D-D-D
In a sizeable boost for Jorge Costa ahead of tomorrow’s crucial tie, both Diego Carlos and Sourav Das were on the flight to Bengaluru with the latter in contention to make his club debut.
Carles Cuadrat has confirmed that Spanish striker Manuel Onwu continues to remain on the sidelines owing to an ankle injury that he is currently recovering from.
Who Said What:
Jorge Costa: I am expecting a good game tomorrow. If we can perform like we did here last season, I will be happy. Our target is the full three points and we’re ready to fight for it.
Modou Sougou: Our ambition is to be in the top 4. But to match that ambition, draws aren’t enough. We need to start winning games and we intend to give it all in Bengaluru.
Ravi Kumar: We're more focused and prepared for tomorrow than our previous game. We know we're drawing games, so we need to do better. And with our hard work, I hope we can be the happier side tomorrow.
Where to watch it
The game will kick off at 7.30pm IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV for all viewers in India. For our global fans, you can follow all the action LIVE on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC.
11 Dec: Odisha FC 3-2 Hyderabad FC (Delgado 27’, Xisco 41’, Guedes P 71’ Bobo P 65’, Rohit 89’)
12 Dec: Kerala Blasters FC 2-2 Jamshedpur FC (Messi 75’, P 87’ Piti P 38’, Vineeth 72’)
Fixtures coming up:
14 Dec: FC Goa vs ATK (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa 7.30pm)
15 Dec: Bengaluru FC vs Mumbai City FC (Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru 7.30pm)
18 Dec: NorthEast United FC vs Bengaluru FC (Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati 7.30pm)