High-flying Mumbai City FC will face a hurting Bengaluru FC (BFC) in a much-anticipated clash at the Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday. Sergio Lobera’s side is just one point off the top, is unbeaten in seven games, has scored a league-high 13 goals and conceded just thrice in eight matches. BFC, on the other hand, has lost two on the bounce to be confined to fifth position, and has failed to score in consecutive matches for the first time in the ISL.
But for Lobera, BFC has been a nemesis, with the Spaniard winning just one out of seven meetings across three seasons when at FC Goa. Carles Cuadrat’s BFC has been successful in disrupting Lobera sides’ free-flowing style by digging a trench and hitting on the counter. In the pre-match briefing on Monday when Cuadrat said his side “had a plan”, it was difficult to shrug off memories of the past.
“Lobera and I have played against each other a lot of times and since moving to Mumbai, he has made his team play the same kind of football he did at Goa,” he said. “Mumbai is in a good position right now, which makes it a strong opponent. But we have a plan of our own and we will try to execute it.”
But unlike before, BFC’s defence isn’t tight. It has conceded nine times and one of its most solid defensive midfielders, Erik Paartalu, will be missing against Mumbai as he serves a suspension for picking up four yellow cards. In Adam le Fondre, Mumbai has the league’s second-highest scorer (six goals), and in Hugo Boumous and Bipin Singh, top assist providers who have seven between them. Lobera, though, still felt that BFC would be a tough nut to crack.
“Bengaluru is very compact. It will be difficult for us and we need to manage the situation,” he said. “The most important thing is not only the result but to analyse how to win. In the last game, we started very well, scored two goals but after that provided Kerala with opportunities to score.”
“We had very good chances to close the game. We need to improve to convert our chances and when you are leading 2-0 it’s not good to concede chances for the other team to score. But I am very happy with my squad. We are improving, we are winning and we need to continue working in the same way,” he added.
BENGALURU FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lara Sharma, Dipesh Chauhan, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Fran Gonzalez, Harmanjot Khabra, Ajith Kumar, Joe Zoherliana, Biswa Darjee, Namgyal Bhutia, Parag Srivas, Pratik Chaudhari, Wungngayam Muirang, Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Suresh Wangjam, Thoi Singh, Ajay Chhetri, Naorem Roshan Singh, Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha, Amay Morajkar, Sunil Chhetri, Kristian Opseth, Cleiton Silva, Ashique Kuruniyan, Deshorn Brown, Udanta Singh, Edmund Lalrindika, Leon Augustin, Semboi Haokip
MUMBAI CITY FC: Amrinder Singh, Nishit Shetty, Vikram Singh, Phurba Lachenpa, Mourtada Fall, Mandar Rao Dessai, Tondonba Singh, Sarthak Golui, Amey Ranawade, Mohamad Rakip, Mehtab Singh, Valpuia, Ahmed Jahouh, Cy Goddard, Hugo Boumous, Herman Santana, Rowllin Borges, Farukh Choudhary, Raynier Fernandes, Bidyananda Singh, Asif Khan, Bipin Singh, Pranjal Bhumij, Sourav Das, Vikram Singh, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Adam Le Fondre
Date: January 5, 2021
Venue: Fatorda Stadium
Time: 7:30pm IST
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