When Mumbai City FC squared off against Bengaluru FC for the last time in the Durand Cup final a couple of months ago, it suffered a 1-2 defeat.
But a lot has changed since the Indian Super League season got underway. After clinching a 6-2 win against Chennaiyin FC last week, Mumbai City FC, with 12 points, is placed second on the table, just four behind table-topper Hyderabad FC. The Islanders will be hoping to reduce the gap further with a win. Bengaluru, meanwhile, languishes in ninth with just one win in the season.
To add to its woes, the star-studded Bengaluru outfit went down to East Bengal in its previous outing.
So, when the two teams meet at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday, the Islanders will be hoping to keep the momentum going, while for Bengaluru, it will be a challenge to bring its campaign back on track..
Barring Amey Ranawade, who has been ruled out for the season, Mumbai has a fit squad at its disposal. Mumbai coach Des Buckingham has a star-studded team at his disposal but will pin high hopes on Argentine Jorge Pereyra Diaz who has been impressive in the last few games.
Buckingham admitted that with Diaz around, his team is able to strategise differently, and the fact that the Argentine has scored against Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin has given him much-needed confidence.
The underperforming Bengaluru FC will be pinning its hopes on skipper Sunil Chhetri. It has been a forgettable season for Chhetri so far. The India captain hasn’t been able to score a goal in his five matches, but the seasoned campaigner has an impressive track record against Mumbai - he scored seven goals against Islanders in 10 outings - and the Bengaluru outfit will be hoping for its superstar to fire when it matters the most.