Marco Pezzaiuoli’s Bengaluru FC side face a stern challenge when they take on defending champions Mumbai City FC at the JN Stadium in Fatorda, on Monday. The Blues will be keen to add points to the table, with a chance to close the gap on the playoff places as the second half of their Indian Super League campaign commences against the Islanders, who are winless in their last four games.
Bengaluru, who ended 2021 with a 4-2 win over Chennaiyin FC, were held to a 1-1 draw against SC East Bengal in a game that they dominated from start to finish. Incidentally, Mumbai’s most recent result was also a draw against the Red and Gold Brigade. Despite their recent run of form, Pezzaiuoli maintained that the Islanders would be a force to reckon with.
“It doesn’t matter if we play Mumbai today, two weeks from now, or a month from now. While it’s true that recent results haven’t gone their way, they’ve been playing good football and it will be a tough game that will need us to be at our best. Our aim is to focus on ourselves and the way we play,” Pezzaiuoli said on the eve of the match.
Des Buckingham’s side currently occupy the summit of the League table, but could slip down to second place if Hyderabad FC pick up a result against Kerala Blasters on Sunday night. The Blues, meanwhile, are in ninth place and stand a chance to move into seventh should they pick up all three points against Mumbai.
Pezzaiuoli has shuffled things up in attack for his side, but maintained that his team selection focuses on the players who are ready to play and have done well in training. “We have Prince, Cleiton, Udanta, Ashique, Sunil and Roshan, and while it’s important to give chances to players, it’s also important to give confidence to those who are performing well in training and in matches. We have a lot of high quality attacking players, but my aim is to find the right balance between offense and defence,” Pezzaiuoli added.
Bengaluru will continue to miss Leon Augustine and Yrondu Musavu-King through long-term injuries, while Pezzaiuoli confirmed that Jayesh Rane (adductor) and Ajay Chhetri (illness) also find themselves out of contention. Mumbai, meanwhile, will be without influential midfielder Ahmed Jahouh, with the Moroccan having picked up his fourth yellow card of the season against SC East Bengal.
Kick-off between Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City FC is at 7.30pm and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.