The defending champions and league leaders Mumbai City FC will take on the second-place side Jamshedpur FC in an appetizing clash to top the Indian Super League table (at least until Chennaiyin FC plays on Saturday). The Red Miners are among the two sides yet to lose a game this season, having won two, and drawn two. The Islanders, currently sit on the top of the table, having won three and lost one, giving glimpses of last season, and have also scored the maximum number of goals this season (12). After their disappointing defeat to Hyderabad FC, the Islanders have responded just how Des Buckingham would have hoped for, beating ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC.
3 Indians to look out for
The 20-year-old midfielder has been exceptional for the Red Mariners this season and has become a regular starter in the team, having played all the games so far. Owen Coyle has put his trust in the midfielder to control the tempo and dictate play from the middle of the park, and it is safe to say that he is acing at the role. He was pivotal in the last game against ATK Mohun Bagan, and also provided an assist. He will have a different threat against the Islanders, coming up against the likes of Cassio, Jahouh, and Apuia in midfield. It will be a tough task to keep them at bay, but Jitendra has shown a lot of promise since the beginning of this season.
The teenager has had quite a start this season and now finds himself in the starting eleven for the Champions. Des Buckingham has slowly yet steadily introduced the 19-year-old into the squad, bringing him on as a substitute in the initial two games, and starting him in the third against the Mariners, when he stole the spotlight scoring a brace in the opening 25 minutes. Although he did not have the best of performances against the Blues, Buckingham will still back him over Raynier Fernandes to deliver against the Red Miners.
Rahul has done reasonably well in the four matches and looks quite settled in the team at the heart of the defense, along with his captain Mourtada Fall. After a tough result against Hyderabad FC, the defense has only conceded two goals (one each against ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC), and credit goes to him and Fall for the same, but Buckingham will still expect a lot more from his side, defensively, to keep clean sheets and not succumb to opposition’s attacks and give away cheap goals. Rahul will have to be on his toes and closely keep an eye on Valskis, and especially Stewart who has a knack for making good runs and arriving into the opposition box in dangerous situations.
3 Foreign Players to look out for
The Brazilian playmaker is yet to score a goal or register an assist since his arrival in India, but his presence in midfield for the Islanders cannot be measured in numbers. His ability to carry the ball into the final third, dribble out of tight spaces, and understanding to find space in between the lines makes him a very dangerous proposition to come up against. With an accurate passing rate of 83%, he is a constant menace to opposition midfielders and defenders, as he not only does pick the right pass, he also has the ability to take on players, and run past them, as if they are not there. It will be a huge task for the midfielders to keep him at bay.
The English center-half who cemented his place in defense for the Red Miners last season, started off this season on a strong note, scoring the first goal of their campaign in their opening fixture against SC East Bengal. The Red Miners have only conceded 4 goals this season (only Hyderabad FC and Chennaiyin FC have conceded fewer) and Hartley has been pivotal in organizing the back-line and scuffing out opposition attacks and leading his team from the back. Now 33-years-old, the Englishman has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and he will have to step up and use all his experience to stop Igor Angulo from finding the back of the net.
The veteran Spaniard, who won the golden boot last season is already leading the race with 4 goals to his name. Being in his late thirties, there were a few questions regarding his ability to press opposition defenders and keep the intensity for the whole ninety minutes, but in spite of being 37, he has proved he is still more than capable of leading the attack for the Islanders. Bringing with him a wealth of experience, and his natural ability to poach any loose ball in and around the opposition goal makes him a defender’s nightmare.
Mumbai City FC
Head to Head
The two sides have met on eight occasions. Jamshedpur FC has managed to win four out of those eight games, drawing two, and losing two. Not only have they had an upper hand against the Islanders overall, even last season they were unbeaten, winning and drawing their games against the Champions.
Having failed to beat the Red Miners last season, Des Buckingham will want his side to get the win, while Owen Coyle will be hoping to continue his side’s good run against the Islanders. Both teams go into the game with positive results and will look to keep the good run going. When these two sides face, it is usually a tight game, with not a lot of goals. But given the firepower at the Islander’s disposal, IFTWC predicts a 3-1 win for Mumbai City FC.
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