The Indian Super League playoff fixtures have been decided and Mumbai City are gearing up to face an intimidating opponent in FC Goa. Mumbai City have already lifted the winners’ shield and booked their place in the AFC Champions League spot. To make things better, Pep Guardiola was caught saying Mumbai City FC’s feat of topping the Indian Super League points table as “an incredible achievement”.
Now what remains is their tense semi-final against last season’s table-toppers FC Goa. In fact, to make it more unique, Mumbai City have a lot in common with Goa when the two meet each other on the 5th of March.
TEAMS OF SIMILAR TASTES
Mumbai coach Sergio Lobera, who was controversially sacked last season by Goa is gearing up to face his former side. Meanwhile, Goa, despite losing important players last season, still managed to build a solid team under their new coach Juan Ferrando. Goa also managed to reach the playoffs for a record 6th time in 7 seasons with a 13-match unbeaten run under their belt.
Exciting players like Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Amarjit Singh, Redeem Tlang, and several others have played a great deal for Goa this term out. The foreign signings like Igor Angulo have also been spot on for them this season.
With many youngsters developed under the radar, FC Goa yet again adhered to their core philosophy of developing and recruiting talented players into the mix. Like Lobera’s MCFC, Ferrando’s Goa plays attacking football and tend to hold more possessional play than their opponents. The similarity in their style has been evident throughout the season.
In 20 games played this season, MCFC have managed 9,739 passes which are slightly more than Goa who had 9,665 passes. Mumbai also hold the most number of touches with 12,392, Goa coming second with 12,348 touches. Both teams in fact even built their team from scratch with Mumbai spending a little much more than Goa.
Under Lobera, Mumbai picked up 40 points from 20 matches and qualified early on with 4 games yet to be played. They also managed to score 38 goals and looked solid at the back with just 18 goals conceded so far this season. Being a former Barca player and an assistant coach, Lobera has a similar style of play to that of Guardiola.
For instance, Mumbai have played progressive attacking football quite similar to Manchester City, with wide players attacking as a unit. Lobera’s team in Goa as well Mumbai both depended heavily upon wingers to build the attack.
In Goa, Lobera often used Jackichand and Brandon Fernandez and in Mumbai Bipin Singh has dominated Mumbai’s left flank. The 25-year-old managed a hattrick against Odisha and has managed 5 goals and 4 assists in 19 matches. Cy Goddard and Amey Ranawade on the right side have also played crucial roles in progressing the Mumbai attack.
Elsewhere, Goa are unbeaten in their last 13 matches since their 1-2 defeat against Chennaiyin FC on December 19, 2020. Goa’s ability is in front of goal coupled with an improvement in defence in recent games will prove to be important coming into the game. Also, the last time Mumbai took on Goa, it ended in a dramatic 3-3 draw as well.
Mumbai have been the most aggressive side this season, but against a more organized side in FC Goa, things aren’t going to be that easy.
Mumbai will face Goa in the first semi-final followed by Mohun Bagan facing NorthEast United in the second semi-final. The first legs will be held on March 5th and 6th. The second leg will be on March 8, and 9 respectively.