ISL 2020-21 Preview: Jahouh returns as resurgent Hyderabad FC takes on table topper Mumbai City FC

ISL 2020: In the previous meeting this season, Mumbai City won 2-0. Roca, who had earlier picked Mumbai City as the strongest team in the ISL, reiterated his stance again ahead of the reverse fixture.

Mumbai will have Ahmed Jahouh back in contention after his one-game suspension, while Hyderabad will be without Nikhil Poojary, Fran Sandaza and Souvik Chakrabarti.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

At the halfway stage of its debut Indian Super League (ISL) campaign in 2019-20, Hyderabad FC was rooted to the bottom of the table with five points from nine games. Even in the second half, things didn’t improve much as it finished 10th with just two wins.

In the ongoing campaign, Hyderabad is fourth with 15 points from 10 matches. It will aspire to finish the second half stronger when it takes on table-topper Mumbai City FC at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday.

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The Nizams were afforded a week’s break but are set to embark on a packed fixture schedule. Hyderabad will play its last 10 matches in 44 days and its coach Manolo Marquez Roca is keen to consolidate his team’s playoffs position.

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In the previous meeting this season, Mumbai City won 2-0 at the Tilak Maidan. Roca, who had earlier picked Mumbai City as the strongest team in the ISL, reiterated his stance again ahead of the reverse fixture.

“Of course, Mumbai is the strongest team in the league,” Roca said of the Islanders, who are on a nine-match unbeaten run. "I continue saying that they will be the champions in the regular season because you know in the play-offs, not always the best team wins.”

The Spaniard also suggested that Hyderabad’s next fixture against Odisha FC on Tuesday, will likely have a bearing on his team selection for Saturday.

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“We can change some details in our game tomorrow but it's important not to lose our style of play because we play again in three days against Odisha. To play in a different system or to put seven or eight different players [for back-to-back matches] is very difficult. Of course, we have to make some changes in the line-up but it will be a very difficult game [against Mumbai City]," said Roca.

For Sergio Lobera, whose Mumbai City side has a five-point lead at the top of the table, wants consistency from his players throughout the season. “The level of Indian players is very important if you want to achieve something. They are improving day by day and want to learn every day. If we want to win trophies, the level of our Indian players has to be high throughout the season," said the former FC Goa head coach.

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Looking ahead to the game, Lobera said, "I'm sure it's going to be a good game. They play a similar style. They have very good Indian players and also very experienced foreign players. It's going to be a different game [from the first leg] because they have recovered a lot of players [from injury]. But the most important thing for us is to focus on our style of play and to keep possession of the ball.”

Mumbai will have Ahmed Jahouh back in contention after his one-game suspension, while Hyderabad will be without Nikhil Poojary, Fran Sandaza and Souvik Chakrabarti.

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