Hero Indian Super League 2016’s first derby of the season takes place on Monday as FC Pune City host Mumbai City FC at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune. Both Maharashtra sides will be looking for a much-improved showing in Hero ISL 2016 as they look to do away with the unwanted honour of being two of the three clubs never to have qualified for the semis.
Mumbai City FC will be looking to avoid a repeat of the result in their opening fixture last season when they lost 3-1 to the Stallions in Pune. In fact, Mumbai City have never been good starters to the season as they also lost 3-0 to Atlético de Kolkata in Hero ISL 2014. FC Pune City, on the other hand, have never lost their opening match of the season having beaten Mumbai last year and drawn 0-0 against Delhi Dynamos FC in their first Hero ISL 2014 match.
Head-to-head: The two sides have faced each other four times in two seasons. FC Pune City have won twice and Mumbai City FC once with the other match between these two Maharashtra clubs ending in a 0-0 draw last season. Mumbai’s only win against Pune came in their first meeting when an Andre Moritz hat-trick helped Mumbai City FC to a 5-0 win at home.
An old fashioned no-nonsense defender who never shies away from a tackle, former Equatorial Guinea defender Eduardo Ferreira will be crucial to the Stallions’ semis chances this season. The 32-year-old is an intelligent reader of the game. He also has the knack to anticipate danger and is impeccable in man-marking situations during set-pieces. Strong in the air, he will offer FC Pune City a dominant presence in aerial duels and can also contribute odd goals for his side from time to time.
A man who needs no introduction, Uruguayan legend and Mumbai City FC’s marquee player Diego Forlan will be itching to get his campaign with Mumbai City FC underway as he looks to leave his mark on the Hero ISL. Forlan is a proven goal-scorer at the highest level as his two Pichichi trophies and one FIFA World Cup Golden Ball go to show. Big things are expected from the veteran frontman this season.
Arata Izumi vs Sony Norde
The highest scoring Indian midfielder of Hero ISL 2015, Arata Izumi will add a dynamic presence to the Stallions’ midfield this season. He ended last season with five goals and an assist for ATK and could have added even more to his already impressive tally had he not missed a majority of the season through injury. The 34-year-old will have an integral role to play for Pune this season with his vision on the ball and clinical finishing in the box acting as a massive plus for the Punekars.
One of the brightest sparks for Mumbai City FC last year in an otherwise below-par season, Sony Norde will be expected to kick on and better his tally of three goals and three assists. Norde’s blistering pace and dancing feet will be a major area of concern for Pune on Monday as the Haitian looks to serve notice to the rest of the league of what he is capable of. A constant menace on the left flank for Mumbai, he is likely to keep the Stallions left-back very busy.
Pitu vs Gerson Vieira
Pitu is the third player from Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy to be part of the Hero ISL after FC Goa’s Joffre and Kerala Blasters FC’s Josu Currais and will be expected to deliver the goods and propel the Stallions to their best ever finish in the league this year. Capable of slotting in at central midfield as well as attacking midfield, Pitu can be expected to be seen in the number 10 position for Pune as he looks to pull the strings with decisive passes and shots on goal.
A dependable presence in defence, Gerson Vieira can be expected to bring an abundance of energy to Mumbai’s backline. He has also demonstrated leadership qualities on the pitch and is known to organise his side’s defensive shape, making him somewhat of a vocal presence on the pitch. Vieira’s speed is another crucial attribute that will come into play over the course of the season. He is also good at man-marking and defending set-pieces.
FC Pune City: Edel Bete, Arindam Bhattacharya, Vishal Kaith, Zodingliana Ralte, Vishal Kaith, Rahul Bheke, Yumnam Raju, Narayan Das, Augustine Fernandes, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Eduardo Ferreira, Gouramangi Singh, Arata Izumi, Jonathan Lucca, Francis Fernandes, Bruno Arias, Josep María Comadevall Crous (Pitu), Lenny Rodrigues, Manish Maithani, Momar Ndoye, Sanju Pradhan, Anibal Zurdo Rodriguez, Gustavo Oberman, Jesus Rodriguez Tato
Mumbai City FC: Roberto Volpato Neto, Albino Gomes, Gerson Vieira, Lucian Goian, Facundo Cardozo, Anwar Ali, Aiborlang Khongjee, Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Munmun Timothy Lugun, Ashutosh Mehta, Krisztian Vadocz, Leo Costa, Jackichand Singh, Pronay Halder, Sehnaj Singh, Boithang Haokip, David Lalrinmuana, Rakesh Oram, Matias Defederico, Otacilio Brito Alves, Sony Norde, Diego Forlan, Gaston Sangoy
– ISL Media