The second round of matches has begun in the Hero Indian Super League and after a day’s rest, the action resumes with the ‘Maha derby’ tonight between Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City at the D.Y. Patil Stadium.
While the battle heats up in the fight for the Maharashtra Assembly between the political parties, on the pitch these two sides will look to claim bragging rights over who the best team in the state is.
Venue & Kick-Off
The modern D.Y. Patil Stadium in Nerul, Navi Mumbai will be hosting its first match of the tournament. It has become popular over the years as a cricket stadium, particularly IPL matches, but there will be a different game played tonight under the floodlights. The stadium has a capacity of 55,000, so expect a boisterous crowd to be in cheering for the sides on a Saturday evening as the stadium gets set to host its first ever football game.
Kick-Off: October 18 – 7:00 PM (IST)
Both teams will be looking for their first goals and first win in the competition. For Pune, it will be a question of picking up all three points after drawing their first game with Delhi while for hosts Mumbai it is a case of recovering some lost pride after the hammering they received on opening night at the hands of Atletico de Kolkata.
Mumbai City FC – lost 0-3 at Atletico de Kolkata
FC Pune – drew 0-0 at Delhi Dynamos
Mumbai City FC (4-2-3-1): Pal, Mondal, Friedrich, Cmovs, Costa, Ralte, Stohanzl, Letzelter, Bhutia, Moritz, Nadaya
Mumbai had the worst possible start to their campaign with the heavy defeat in Kolkata, the biggest margin of defeat so far in the competition. They also lost their captain to an ankle injury and he is not set to return any time soon as Syed Rahim Nabi has been ruled out for about 3 weeks. The absence of Nabi is a further blow to the team’s midfield which was conspicuous by its absence in the first game. Nadong Bhutia, who replaced Nabi after his injury, could start.
In his absence, former German international and Vice-captain Manuel Friedrich will lead the side. Not only will he have to raise the morale, but also look to shore up the defence which looked all at sea against Kolkata.
Marquee player Freddie Ljungberg is edging closer to full fitness, and is expected to play a part in tonight’s game, but it is more likely to be as a substitute off the bench. Their other star foreign name, striker Nicolas Anelka is still unavailable as he serves the remainder of his ban following a claimed offensive goal celebration last year.
Brazilian Andre Moritz also could be looking at a start after his impressive showing after coming on as a substitute. Mumbai looked more threatening in the second half with his link-up play and forward runs.
FC Pune City (4-3-2-1) – Belardi, Park, Ravanan, Magliocchetti, Cirillo, Mehta, Gurung, Maithani, Rodrigues, Katsouranis, Trezeguet
The best thing that emerged out of Pune’s first game, besides a well-earned point, was their dogged defence that kept Delhi at bay. In completely contrast to Mumbai’s misgivings at the back, Pune looked very comfortable defending deep inside their own half.
The presence of some Italian players makes that a rather unsurprising fact. Emanuele Belardi in goal and his two central defenders in Davide Magliochetti and Bruno Cirillo were superb in the first game and will look to continue that impressive form.
Up front though is where they will look to make further inroads after failing to score last time out. David Trezeguet will lead the line and he will look for some healthy supply from the likes of Lenny Rodriguez and Kostas Katsouranis. Pune are likely to retain the same team from the game against Delhi.
Key facts and stats
- This will be the first ever football game to be played at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
- Both teams failed to score in their opening game and will be looking to open their account.
- Mumbai had more possession and more shots on goal in the first game against Kolkata, yet finished on the losing side.
- Pune have a father-son combo in their ranks in coach Franco Colomba and player Davide Colomba.
- All tickets for the match have been sold out.
Emanuele Belardi – The Italian keeper made a string of saves in the game against Delhi in the face of mounting pressure.
Andre Moritz – The Brazilian looked to provide Mumbai with a cutting edge upon his introduction. It will be interesting to see if Mumbai can break down the resolute Pune defence
Freddie Ljungberg – Mumbai’s marquee player may not start, but we may get our first glimpse of him as he comes on late to help out his team.
The pitch – Mumbai struggled on the artificial turf of the Salt Lake Stadium. Back home on the natural turf of the D.Y. Patil Stadium, will their passing game kick into gear?
Mumbai’s defence in the first game could not have been more abject while Pune’s was rock-solid. On the flip side, Mumbai managed to attack better especially in the second half with no reward whereas Pune’s forward line was isolated. The two teams are coming in on the back of contrasting forms.
As mentioned above, the natural turf at the D.Y. Patil could actually serve Mumbai well as they rely on their slick passing game as inspired by their coach, Peter Reid. At the same time, their side bears a very unsettled look, and Pune could be well in with a shot here. However, with home advantage, I fancy Mumbai to nick a close one in the first ‘Maha Derby’.
Mumbai City FC 2-1 FC Pune City