ISL 2018-19, Mumbai City FC 1-0 Bengaluru FC: 5 Talking Points
Mumbai City FC ended the last remaining unbeaten record in ISL 2018-19, as they beat Bengaluru FC 1-0 on Sunday at the Mumbai Football Arena.
A first-half goal from Paulo Machado was enough for the Islanders against a Bengaluru side who looked sub-par.
In both teams' first game back since the winter break, Mumbai drove forward with purpose and defended astutely against a Bengaluru side, who were decidedly second-best in all areas of the pitch, with the injuries that have ravaged their squad having taken a toll on Carles Cuadrat's side.
Here are 5 big points of discussion from the game.
#5 Bengaluru need Miku back ASAP
Without their Venezuelan hitman, Bengaluru lost their first game in seven, but the continually deteriorating performance levels had been a feature even before the break.
Without Miku, Bengaluru's attack lacks a focal point and also a consistent threat to the opposition rearguard.
Neither Sunil Chhetri nor Chencho Gyeltshen are different types of players, who don't really provide the focal point.
For Chhetri to thrive, he needs someone to take the pressure off him by playing the central striker's role. Chhetri has shown throughout his career that his best performances come when he's playing as the supporting striker or from the left wing.
With Chencho as well, his best position is not as a central striker. So, on Sunday, Cuadrat tried something new with Xisco Hernandez taking over the role of the central striker.
The Spaniard started promisingly but waned as the game went on, as Lucian Goian and Anwar Ali stood tall at the back for Mumbai.
Bengaluru also lacked some imagination in their creative play, which is another area where Miku's absence hurt them.
This season, in the five games he played before his injury, Miku dropped deep very often, creating the space for Udanta Singh and Chhetri to run into, while also pinging passes to them.
The Venezuelan's ability to conjure a chance out of seemingly nothing is being desperately missed by Cuadrat, and with him back in light training already, Bengaluru will be having fingers crossed to have their hitman back with them, as we reach the business end of the season.