Kerala Blasters FC
DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai
25th November, 2015, 19.00 IST
Although this is a clash between the bottom two teams of the Indian Super League (ISL), these are two teams that have a lot of potential in their starting lineups and on their bench. However, as is clear form their positions on the ISL table, neither of them have quite fulfilled their potential.
While this is a six-pointer in the truest sense of the word, even a positive result might not be enough to propel either of the teams into the top four positions of the league. This holds more true for Kerala Blasters FC, rather than Mumbai City FC, as the Kochi-based side are five points behind the semi-final playoff spot with just three games to go. However, their current scenario makes it absolutely essential for both the sides to win this match, as a draw (or a loss) would take them further away from the desired top-four berth.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Mumbai City FC
The Islanders have been sinking lower and lower down the table with a five-match win-less run now, and with the form that they are currently in, it seems very unlikely the they would be able to turn thing around anytime soon. Also, with rumours of disharmony within the dressing room, it seems Mumbai could be in for some really difficult matches.
Nicola Anelka has been redundant up front so far, and with Selim Benachour doubtful; for the match, this could present Mumbai with the perfect chance to play Sunil Chhetri in the No. 10 role once again. The India captain has looked dangerous in that role, when he was played there, in the initial part of the season, but has been pushed to the wings in the last few games to accommodate either Anelka or Benachour in the No. 10 role. Due to the possible unavailability of Benachour, Bustos and Aguilera are most likely to take up the midfield positions. Anelka’s best attacking options on the wings are the wily Sony Norde and the pacey Subash Singh, and the Frenchman should go with the duo, in this crunch match.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Subrata; Fanai, Cmovs, Bertin, Ashutosh; Bustos, Aguilera; Sony, Chhetri, Subash; Anelka.
Kerala Blasters FC
The Kochi-based side have seen some sort of a resurgence since coach Terry Phelan took over, but they are still far away from being anywhere near to the quality displayed by the other sides higher up the table. Anything but a win in this match would mean that Kerala would be virtually ruled out of competition for the top four.
Kerala Blasters FC have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde in their last couple of matches, winning and losing by 4-1 margins against North East United FC and Chennaiyin FC, respectively. Phelan has shown an affinity to stick with the diamond formation or the 4-1-2-1-2 with with Chris Dagnall and Antonio German playing up front, and Cavin Lobo in the No. 10 position behind them. It seems to be a matter of turning it up on the day for the Kerala Blasters, instead of the combination, as the midfield trio of Pulga, Mehtab Hossain and Josu, with Lobo playing as the advanced playmaker, have shown that they can be rather destructive on their day.
Probable Starting XI (4-1-2-1-2): Bywater; Saumik, Jhingan, Ramage, Bheke, Hossain; Josu, Pulga; Lobo; German Dagnall.
Mumbai City FC 1-3 Kerala Blasters FC
Although the diamond formation does not allow much width to the Blasters, the mobility of German and Lobo should cover for that. Also, with more men congesting the centre of the park, Kerala would look to boss the game from the start and get an easy win over an out-of-form Mumbai. However, the Mumbai front-four have a lot of potential, and one can never rule out goals from them.
Blast from the past
Kerala Blasters FC 0-0 Mumbai City FC
The two sides played out a tame goalless draw in Kochi in the first leg, but this time it does not look as if either of the defences would be able to stand strong for too long, in the face of adversity.
Image Courtesy: ISL Media Team