ISL 2018-19: Kerala Blasters vs Mumbai City FC - 3 key player battles

Sandesh Jhingan will be marshalling Kerala's defence once again [Credits: ISL]
Sandesh Jhingan will be marshalling Kerala's defence once again [Credits: ISL]

On Friday Kerala Blasters will take on Mumbai City FC in front of the yellow sea at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.

The home side will be coming into the match on a high after winning their first ever match in Kolkata against ATK in the season opener while the visitors will be looking to get back to winning ways after losing their opening match.

Kerala has a very good record at home and have one of the best defences in the league while Mumbai City perhaps has one of the best midfield in the league.

Let's take a look at a few key battles that would decide the outcome of this fixture.

#3 Rafael Bastos vs Sandesh Jhingan

The 33-year old attacking midfielder Rafael Bastos without a doubt pose as a major threat to the strong Kerala Blasters defence. With the experience of playing in the Champions League and first division of the Portuguese and Brazilian leagues, the 6'1 tall Brazilian will be a handful for the Indian international.

Strong dribbling skills along with a knack to score crucial goals make Rafael Bastos a very dangerous forward to face off against.

Arguably best centre-back in India at the moment, Sandesh Jhingan has been at the heart and soul of the Kerala Blasters defence from the first season onwards.

With a total of 58 matches played with 383 clearances 73 interceptions and 147 tackles, Jhingan is one of the best defenders in the league.

Safety first attitude, good strength, leading the defensive line and an ability to create goal scoring opportunities from the back makes Jhingan a defensive as well as an attacking threat.

#2 Matej Poplatnik vs Lucian Goian

Lucain Goian (left) was Mumbai's best player in their opening fixture against Jamshedpur FC [Credits: ISL]
Lucian Goian (left) was Mumbai's best player in their opening fixture against Jamshedpur FC [Credits: ISL]

The only foreign recruit to have been re-signed by the Mumbai team, Lucian Goian has been one of the only consistent performers for the term from Maharashtra.

At 35 years of age, Goian may not possess the pace that he had in the past but his tactical acumen and the knowledge of the game gives him an upper hand over any rival forwards.

The Romanian has so far made 31 appearances and 191 clearances 164 tackles and 61 interceptions in his name in the league.

One of the new signings of the season for the Kerala Blasters, Matej Poplatnik has started the season on a high with an excellent goal in his debut match against ATK in the season opener.

The Slovenian goal machine possesses incredible pace and has very good first touch as well as good dribbling skills making him a handful for any defence.

#1 Paulo Machado vs Nikola Krcmarevic

Paulo Machado in action against Jamshedpur FC [Credits: ISL]
Paulo Machado in action against Jamshedpur FC [Credits: ISL]

The outcome of the match will heavily rely upon the how the duel between the new recruits in both sides churn out.

On paper, Paulo Machado simply overpowers his Serbian counterpart. The 32-year-old Portuguese international is a product of the famed FC Porto academy.

The midfielder brings to the table the experience playing with the best in the Champions League as well as with European names like Toulouse, Olympiakos and St Etienne as well as representing his nation 6 times.

Good in the dead ball situation along with the ability to score from them makes him an asset to any team. A player who loves to do layoffs Machado has the vision to pick out make key passes. Along with these attributes, the 32-year-old possesses a powerful and accurate shot.

A much more unknown entity compared to his counterpart. Krcmarevic possesses an ability to stop attacks in their infancy.

He may not have made the headlines in his debut match against ATK but the Serbian was, in fact, one of the better performers that day with his calmness on the ball and his ability to pick out the right passes being a major attraction.

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