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ISL 2021-22: Mumbai City FC aims to get back on winning ways against Bengaluru


Bengaluru FC will get yet another opportunity to steady a stuttering season when it meets under-pressure Mumbai City FC at the Fatorda Stadium on Monday.

Marco Pezzaiuoliโ€™s side might be on a four-game unbeaten run, but there hasnโ€™t been a match in recent memory where it has convinced from start to finish.

Defending champion Mumbai, after a rollicking start that saw it win five of the opening six games, has lost two and drawn two of its last four, allowing the likes of Hyderabad FC, Jamshedpur FC and ATK Mohun Bagan to catch up.

Both BFC and Mumbai had their previous matches against bottom-placed SC East Bengal and both ended in draws. While it may reflect the Kolkata outfitโ€™s newly found steeliness under interim head coach Renedy Singh, it also points to the state of play at BFC and Mumbai.

While BFC has been increasingly adept at controlling possession, it has struggled to score from open play, with attacking patterns failing to materialise.

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โ€œWe need to get better in the final phase,โ€ Pezzaiuoli said, on match-eve. โ€œWe had many good balls in the last third but when you are dominating possession, wingers need to have more quality. The pass to wingers behind the defence was good but we need to bring the ball inside.โ€

Against Mumbai, it may not have a lionโ€™s share of the ball but the form Des Buckinghamโ€™s side is in provides hope. The Englishman has seen his wards concede 10 goals from just three matches before the 0-0 draw against East Bengal. He will also be without midfield lynchpin Ahmed Jahouh, who is suspended.

โ€œNow we need to kick on and make sure we continue with the clean-sheets in the upcoming matches,โ€ Buckingham said, referring to the last draw. โ€œWe need to maintain a good defensive shape.โ€

The way Mumbai has been pulled back after it threatened to run away with the league shows how topsy-turvy the competition has been, with teams routinely cancelling each other out. BFCโ€™s hopes rest on the same, for despite being in the ninth position, a win can catapult the 2018-19 champion within touching distance of a playoff spot.

In light of the recent COVID-19 case in the ATK Mohun Bagan camp, the Indian Super League has conveyed to the clubs that matches will go ahead if 15 players are available. In the event there aren’t 15 players per team, the league will try and re-schedule the game if a window is available. If there is no suitable date, the opponent will be awarded a 3-0 win. If both teams do not have 15 players, it will be considered a 0-0 draw.

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