Odisha FC will be desperate to snap a four-game winless run but in Mumbai City FC they will face their sternest test yet, as the two sides lock horns in the Hero Indian Super League at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Monday.
Odisha suffered a heavy defeat to Hyderabad FC in their last outing, underlining their drop in form since the first few games where they looked very good.
The Kiko Ramirez-coached side have been poor defensively, conceding 20 goals in 8 games this season, the worst record so far. In 2020-21 Hero ISL, Odisha ended with the worst defensive record in Hero ISL conceding 44 goals in 20 games with just one clean sheet.
"There are some moments where we made individual mistakes and that cost us the game. But we cannot blame anyone. The coaching staff will take the responsibility first and then the players. We will keep trying to find a solution and we are confident of getting better," Assistant Coach Kino Garcia said in the pre-match press conference.
On Mumbai, he added: "Mumbai are league leaders and they are a strong team. We have done our homework and we will be ready." Kiko Ramirez remains suspended for the game for accumulating his second caution from the bench last match.
For defending champions Mumbai, it will be about consolidating their lead at the of the heap after dropping points in the last two matches. The Islanders lost to Kerala Blasters FC and drew with NorthEast United FC in a high-scoring encounter, allowing teams like Hyderabad FC and ATK Mohun Bagan to close the gap on them.
Mumbai have been a first-half team so far. Sixty per cent of the goals scored by them have come in the first period. No team has scored more goals than Mumbai City (12) in the first half of games this season. But what will concern coach Des Buckingham is their struggles in the second half.
Mumbai have conceded 9 of their 13 goals in the second half of games. Seven of the 9 goals conceded in the second half of games has come in a 15-minute span between the 45th and 60th minute. No team has conceded more goals in this 15-minute span.
"We need to make sure defensively we are well placed as well. That's what we have been training on in the last few games. We want to continue playing attacking football but we need to be good defensively as well," Buckingham said.
Meanwhile, Bipin Singh is having a great season so far with three goals and two assists. His five-goal contributions are the second-highest among Indian players after Liston Colaco (5 goals + 1 assist) this season. Igor Angulo has also been in cracking form, netting seven goals already along with two assists.
Mumbai have two wins and two losses in their 4 games against Odisha