The Kerala Blasters vs. Mumbai City clash on Friday will witness a battle between two settled teams who will be well aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The two clubs were among two of the four sides who have not changed their head coaches from last season and both sides have managed to retain the majority of their core from the previous campaign.
Kerala Blasters have been poor of late after starting with a win in their tournament against East Bengal. The Kochi-based side has suffered two back-to-back losses since then and faltered in their standings since then.
Kerala Blasters are the runners-up of the last Indian Super League season. They would definitely love to repeat a similar performance this season finish at least among the top six and try to make the news. Thus, every game is of paramount importance to them.
Considered to be one of the most supported clubs in the country, it is imperative for them to try and earn three points from every game, and Friday’s match will be no exception.
The Islanders will be wary of the monumental cost that a minor slip-up could have on their league-stage standings, especially after the previous season. Des Buckingham’s men will be eager to get three points in their bag and not let the fans down in just their second away game of the campaign.
The side looked in fine touch after the coach carried out a little shakeup in the midfield in the last game. They will hence want to stamp their authority and set the tone early on in the season by turning in a dominant performance against last season’s finalists.
Kerala Blasters got off to a winning start in the ISL 2022-23 season against East Bengal courtesy of Adrian Luna’s opener and Ivan Kalyuzhnyi’s brace in the second half. The Blasters, however, lost their next game against ATK Mohun Bagan as Dimitri Petratos scored ISL 2022-23 season’s first hat-trick.
In their most recent game against Odisha, Harmanjot Khabra scored in the 35th minute to give the Blasters the lead. Before Jerry Mawihmingthanga equalized in the 54th minute. Substitute Pedro Martin won it for Josep Gombau’s side in the 86th minute.
Head To Head
On the other hand, in their tournament opener against Hyderabad, both teams shared points. Each of the two sides kicked their Indian Super League campaign off with an enthralling 3-3 draw. At the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune.
The Islanders, however, notched a 2-0 win over Odisha in a tightly contested affair in their first home game of the season. A Shubham Sarangi own goal and a 94th-minute Bipin Singh strike were enough to secure all three points for the Islanders.
The Islanders’ second home game of the 2022/23 ISL season ended in a 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur. Des Buckingham’s side went ahead early on thanks to Chhangte’s first goal of the 2022-23 ISL season.
However, the Red Miners equalized swiftly and left the Islanders frustrated with a point at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri at the end of the night.
In 16 meetings between the two sides so far, MCFC has ended up on the winning side on six occasions. While KBFC has managed to win four. Six of these fixtures have ended in a draw. The Blasters recorded two of those four wins from last season, as they did the double over the Islanders.
KBFC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic will be aiming to continue his perfect record against MCFC. And there’s no better opportunity for him to do it at home after two back-to-back defeats this season.
Kerala Blasters will most likely line up in a 4-4-2 formation. The man in front of the post will be Prabhsukhan Singh Gill. And the back four are expected to be Hormipam Ruivah. Marko Lešković, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, and Jessel Carneiro with Ruviah and Leskovic lined up in the heart of Kerala’s defense. While Khabra and Carneiro are placed in the flanks.
Puitea and Jeakson Singh are expected to form the engine room of the Kerala Blasters’ midfield. While Sahal Samad and Adrián Luna are expected to play in the wings. Ivan Kalyuzhnyi and Dimitrios Diamantakos will most probably lead the Blasters’ attack.
Phurba Lachenpa is expected to start in Mumbai’s goal while Mehtab Singh will partner Rostyn Griffiths in central defense. They will be flanked by Rahul Bheke and Sanjeev Stalin down wide. Apuia is most likely to be partnered by the dynamic and creative pair of Alberto Noguera and Ahmed Jahouh.
Greg Stewart is most likely to play up front and will be flanked by Lallianzuala Chhangte on the right. The electric Bipin Singh will start on the left wing.
Predicted Starting XIs
Kerala Blasters (4-3-3): Prabhsukhan Gill; Harmanjot Khabra, Ruivah Hormipam, Marko Leskovic, Jessel Carneiro; Sahal Abdul Samad Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Jeakson Singh, Adrian Luna; Ivan Kalyuzhnyi, Dimitrios Diamantakos
Mumbai City (4-3-3): Phurba Lachenpa; Rahul Bheke, Mehtab Singh, Rostyn Griffiths, Sanjeev Stalin; Alberto Noguera, Apuia, Ahmed Jahouh; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Greg Stewart, Bipin Singh
Under the management of Ivan Vukamanovic, last season’s playoff runners-up Kerala Blasters. Have started the ongoing Indian Super League season. With one win and two defeats in their opening three matches.
The home team’s most recent outing was a 2-1 loss against Odisha, making it back-to-back defeats. They now confront a Mumbai City side that, as always, will be expected to challenge for the Indian title.
They remain unbeaten so far with a victory and two draws in their opening three matches. The match looks in favor of the away team and looks like the way to go for this one.