ISL semifinals: Mumbai City favourite

In the first match of the double-leg semifinals against a mighty Mumbai City FC, Atletico de Kolkata will look to reverse its adverse home record.

Helder Postiga has failed to inspire his colleagues upfront. The Atletico de Kolkata coach, Molina, will be hoping that the Portuguese striker forges a good partnership with Canadian Iain Hume, or his replacement, Spaniard Juan Belencoso, in the semifinals.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Diego Forlan... the spearhead of the Mumbai City FC attack.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Ahead of the first match of the double-leg semifinals against >Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League, >Atletico de Kolkata encountered a series of blips that could affect its performance at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Saturday. Both the team and its Spanish coach, Jose Molina, betrayed some uneasiness as they prepared to take on the most consistent team of the tournament so far.

READ: >Forlan confident ahead of Mumbai City FC's ISL semifinal

Having finished the league stage with eight draws in 14 games, Molina searched for reasons why his team failed to perform to expectations while playing at home. At home, Atletico de Kolkata drew five of its seven matches.

“We never went out to play a draw, but somehow our attack faltered though we always have been aggressive in our intent,” Molina said.

The Spaniard added that it mattered little that his team is not counted as a favourite against Mumbai City FC, which has played attacking football. “I am not worried about not being counted as the favourite. We as a team will look to give our best and return with a win,” Molina said.

Injury to defender Arnab Mondal was a bit of a worry for Molina. The coach, however, said that he will have a suitable replacement in case his regular central defender is not found fit on the day of the match. With one Indian gone, Molina will be hard-pressed to find the right combination of foreigners, which may force him to break his regular combination.

“The teams in the ISL have similar standards though they have different playing styles. It will be a tough match for both of us and we would try to ensure the best result,” said Molina.

Atletico de Kolkata held Mumbai 1-1 in an away match before losing to it at home following a Diego Forlan goal.

Unlike Mumbai City FC, which has built its forward line around the class of the Uruguayan World Cup star Diego Forlan, Atletico de Kolkata’s attack spluttered on many occasions primarily because its marquee player, Helder Postiga of Portugal, could not influence his colleagues upfront. Molina will be hoping that Postiga and Canadian Iain Hume, or his replacement, Spaniard Juan Belencoso, forge a good combination to put in the shade a superior Mumbai attack.

Forlan, Sunil Chhetri, Argentine Matias Defederico and the young Brazilian, Otacilio Brito Alves (Cafu), make the Mumbai City FC attack arguably the best in the business.

“This is our first semifinal and the team is keyed up to give its best. We have been very stable in the tournament so far and hope to retain that identity on field tomorrow,” said the Mumbai City coach, Alexandre Guimaraes.

The experienced coach from Costa Rica seemed to draw “confidence” from the way the team’s attack and defence have combined, with Lucian Goian of Romania making a big presence in the central defence. Guimaraes heaped praise on the commitment showed by a great player like Forlan who, he said, has “contributed” to the team showing the right intent and inspired his teammates to give their best.

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