ISL: Pune takes on Mumbai in clash of equals

Maharashtra derby rivals, Pune City FC and Mumbai City FC, have a similar record ahead of Wednesday night’s fixture at the Balewadi Stadium.

FC Pune City has lost its previous home match against Delhi Dynamos   -  AFP

FC Pune City, as Delhi Dynamos FC and Atletico de Kolkata realised when they clashed, is a free-scoring team. Home or away, containing Ranko Popovic’s strikeforce has been tricky in season four of Indian Super League, with quality upfront backed by a world class midfield.

Read: Pune downs defending champion Kolkata

Mumbai City FC is the next opponent at the Balewadi stadium. Last season’s league topper and coached by Alexandre Guimaraes, tomorrow’s visitor hit its stride in a home match against FC Goa at the Mumbai Football Arena. Mumbai, like its derby rival, has so far won one and lost one match.

Read: Mumbai secures home win versus Goa

At the ten-match mark in ISL 2017, Amrinder remains the best goalkeeper; he has made nine saves in two matches. He is Mumbai’s last line of defence, behind central defender and captain Lucian Goian. “You have to understand that when a team defends, 11 players get to work. It starts from the strikers through the midfield and then at the back. Like we showed against FC Goa, I believe we can be the same strong defensive unit,” said the latter.

The Romanian defender, partnering towering Brazilian Marcio Rozario and Amrinder covering up behind them in the goal, represent a formidable wall. Pune’s attackers' ability to stretch the backline and surge into spaces from behind to convert passes, as Marcelino, Alfraro and Tebar have done effortlessly so far, makes them dangerous. "The goals they've scored came from very precise attacks. When a team can do that, you have to make sure you don't make mistakes because then they will punish you,” observed Guimaraes.

Pune City coach, Popovic, put it bluntly, saying: “It was a very crucial and important step for us to get our first three points. We will try to do the same at home, which is especially important because this club doesn't have a great record at winning away games.”

He asserted that the home team will go for goals, as witnessed against Delhi and ATK. “It is a case of concentration than anything else. We will try to score lots of goals, though in football you can never say what will happen.” With both sides on a high after winning the previous games, it is hoped fans will be treated to a goal-fest.