With a few key departures in the transfer window, it will be a daunting task for the Islanders to defend their Indian Super League (ISL) trophy in the 2021-22 season. The offensive side of the game in particular is where it can get tricky for them to cope, having let their flamboyant duo Hugo Boumous and Adam Le Fondre go. Despite topping the goal-scoring charts last season Igor Angulo has got difficult boots to fill.
The 37-year-old Spaniard has only got one season’s worth of experience in the Indian Super League (ISL) under his belt, but has over 500 appearances for various clubs throughout his career, scoring over 175 goals. It is an understatement to say that he took the Indian Super League (ISL) by storm in his very first season with FC Goa, scoring 14 goals in 21 appearances, winning the golden boot in the process, and was also named the Football Player Association Of India’s Foreign Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season. Although playing under Sergio Lobera is a completely different ball game compared to playing under Juan Ferrando, Angulo will be more than capable of performing under Lobera, given the amount of experience he has how passionate he is to score goals and help his team.
Mumbai City FC under head coach Sergio Lobera likes to keep possession of the ball, and try to move the ball constantly, in an attempt to drain the opposition, and capitalize on opportunities when there is a lapse in concentration from the opponents. But, now with teams very familiar with Lobera’s style of play, work very hard in training to maintain good defensive shape, not give any space in-behind, and, in turn, force the Islanders to play more backward passes, which can get frustrating for them at times.
In such situations, taking a shot from distance or putting the ball into the box for attackers to score is normally viable. Angulo’s presence in the opposition box will definitely cause all sorts of problems for the defenders, not to forget how sharp he is in the opposition box, and in front of the goal. When teams sit back deep and have had to defend and chase the ball the entire game, it is only natural for them to have lapses in concentration, and it will be in these moments when Angulo is most dangerous, as he is a proper poacher in front of goal. A missed pass, a slow pass, an error in and around the goal, will only result in Mumbai City FC finding the back of the net.
For a team like Mumbai City FC under coach Lobera, who likes to press higher up the pitch to regain possession, and defend using their forwards, the addition of Angulo will be something the Islanders must be looking forward to. He is someone who has an eye for goal and despite being 37, still covers a lot of ground and can help the team in pressing the opponents.
Mumbai City FC clinched their maiden Indian Super League (ISL) trophy last time around, and finished the season with the highest goal difference, and scored the maximum number of goals, 35. The Islanders had won most of their games and were on the verge of qualifying comfortably, but had a few draws and defeats towards the competition’s latter stages. Two back-to-back defeats to Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC was a wake-up call and the results did put a little pressure on the Islanders to not take the remaining matches very lightly. Although things went in their favor after the defeat to Jamshedpur FC, they found it slightly difficult to break down opposition defenses and find the goal which would kill the game. Angulo’s addition to the squad will hopefully eliminate this, as the veteran has a lot of experience and can motivate and lead the front-line to not let their head’s drop in such situations, and keep probing to find that goal which will put the game to bed, his awareness in front of goal, and ability to poach on mistakes made by opposition defenders, late on in games, is something that Lobera might be delighted about.
The Spaniard also fares better when compared to the Islander’s previous striker Adam Le Fondre. Angulo has a better goal conversion rate of 27% compared to 25% for Le Fondre, has a 0.67 rating for goals/game compared to 0.48 for Le Fondre. He also beats the Englishman when it comes to passing accuracy by 59.61% as compared to 58.715% for the ex-Mumbai City FC striker, a key stat because of the style in which Mumbai City FC play, not to forget he also scored 14 goals in fewer matches as compared to the Englishman who found the back of the net 11 times. So, all in all, he has what it takes to replace Le Fondre and be the target man for the Islanders.
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