Tonight’s Indian Super League (ISL) match will see table toppers Mumbai City FC take on Chennaiyin FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim. The two teams have had contrasting fortunes so far which makes it an even more interesting matchup. While Mumbai City lost their opening game, they came back strong winning three matches on the trot after that. On the other hand, Chennaiyin won their first match but haven’t won since, suffering a few injuries along the way.
In this column, we try and analyze where the match will be won by either side based on the personnel on display.
Ahmed Jahouh’s playmaking from deep
Jahouh has been one of Mumbai City’s standout performers so far even after missing a game due to a red card that he received. He is the orchestrator-in-chief from midfield and almost all of Mumbai City’s attacking transitions originate through him. It will therefore be important for Chennaiyin that they do not give him time and space to pick passes from deep. In the absence of Anirudh Thapa, Rafael Crivellaro and Deepak Tangri have to make sure that they close him down quickly and cut off his passing channels.
Isma’s threat down the right
Esmael ‘Isma’ Goncalves has invariably been the most used outlet by Chennaiyin FC due to his ability to carry the ball and bring others into play. Once again, he will be tasked with making progressive runs with the ball at his feet to disturb the Islanders’ defence. Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, who came in for the unavailable Mandar Rao in the last match, should get another start after an impressive performance and will be responsible for keeping him in check. With the other forward, Jakub Sylvestr, yet to find his feet, stopping Isma might just be enough to thwart most of Chennaiyin’s attacking thrust.
Containing Hugo Boumous
Boumous has been the main attacking impetus for Mumbai City so far. His incessant running from midfield and ability to glide past players is what has created most of their chances. He also is one of the most elegant passers in the league. Stopping him from operating at his usual level will therefore be of paramount importance for Chennaiyin if they want to contain Sergio Lobera’s side.
Battle of the two defences
While Mumbai City has kept a clean sheet in each of their last three matches, Csaba Laszlo’s men have just one in three games. Their central defenders Eli Sabia and Enes Sipovic have been decent so far but tonight they will be competing against arguably the best defence in the league. With Chennaiyin’s attack yet to take full shape, Laszlo will look to build from the back and maintain a solid defensive structure. Whether they are able to do that and then hurt Mumbai City on the break may well decide the outcome of this match.