Mumbai, ATK look to consolidate top-four spot


Both Mumbai and ATK hit most of their goals in the second half of matches. The teams have a penchant for scoring late goals this season.

Mumbai City FC vs ATK (Photo: Twitter|ISL)

Mumbai: Mumbai City FC will be on the lookout for their second home win of the Indian Super League (ISL) season when they take on ATK FC at the Mumbai Football Arena here on Saturday.

After a stuttering start to the season, Mumbai City have found their mojo and are on a six-match unbeaten run having won their last three matches. The surge in form has seen them rise to fourth on the points table. Three points against ATK will see them leapfrog the third-placed team.

"It's not the first time we are playing against them. Yes, it's true that it's different when the opponent team has a different system. Also, they don't play all the games with three at the back, sometimes they play with four. So, we must be prepared for both situations and we are," said coach Jorge Costa.

However, they will have to find a way to stop a free scoring ATK attack. Though Mumbai's defence has shown improvement conceding just one goal from open play in three games, muzzling the likes of Roy Krishna and David Williams won't be easy.

They will also have to do it without Paulo Machado who has been ruled out for the season. The Portuguese midfielder's authority has been vital to Jorge Costa's plans. Raynier Fernandes and Rowllin Borges will have to step up in Machado's absence.

"Machado is a fantastic player. It is good for football that he plays. As a coach, it's not good for me to see an opposition player injured. But we will be missing Agus, who is very important for us. I think this balances it out," said ATK coach Antonio Habas.

Antonio Lopez Habas’ men will be wary of Mumbai’s threat from crosses. The Islanders have scored a joint league-high six goals from crosses. Moreover, three of the last four goals conceded by ATK have come from crosses.

However, defensive problems persist in the Mumbai team. Costa’s men have conceded 17 goals so far – the second-worst tally in the division. On a positive note, Modou Sougou's return to goalscoring ways will add teeth to Mumbai City's attack. In fact, Sougou was the 13th different goalscorer for Mumbai City this season - the most for any club.

Second-placed ATK are also coming into this game on the back of an encouraging victory over Bengaluru FC. Habas' side have had no problem scoring goals. They have pumped in 19 goals this season, the second-most by any team. His talented attackers will look to hurt Mumbai City's defence which has not kept a clean sheet in their last eight matches.

"I think that Mumbai City is a very talented opponent. They play in a manner in which it is possible to create problems in defence because they have good strikers, good wingers and they are strong in defence. But I think that we have to use our chances to pick up three points," said Habas.

Though Agus Garcia is injured, Habas has strengthened the defence with the capture of Spanish defender Victor Mongil.

Both Mumbai and ATK hit most of their goals in the second half of matches. The teams have a penchant for scoring late goals this season, as evidenced in the 2-2 draw the two teams played out earlier this season.

The last 15 minutes is where Krishna and Co. are especially dangerous, with six of their 19 goals coming during that period. Mumbai, who’ve conceded four goals in the same duration of matches, will be aware of the fact and could look to finish off the game early rather than leave it late.

It is very much possible that this might be yet another clash that could see a twist in the tale.

(With inputs from IANS and ISL)

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