BENGALURU: Even before the seventh edition of the ISL kicked off last month, Mumbai FC were one of the hot favourites for the title, and rightly so. They had built a good squad under the former FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera, who is known for his attractive brand of football. Besides, the Spaniard also managed to bring quality players from his previous clubs to the Islanders.
However, Mumbai were not at their best in their first two games. They might have secured a late winner against Goa FC, but it was their 3-0 win over SC East Bengal that provided a glimpse of what they are capable of when they got their act together.
With such an impressive victory under their belt, there will be an element of confidence when Mumbai face Odisha FC at GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Sunday.
Talking about confidence, key striker Adam Le Fondre, who has scored three goals so far, will be key up front. Though Fondre and Bartholomew Ogbeche started in their opening game, the latter has been used as a substitute in the last two games.
They also have the likes of Hugo Boumous, Farukh Choudhary and others, who have it in them to trouble opponents. Lobera was very respectful of Odisha but wants his team to stick to their attacking philosophies.
"Odisha have a very good team,” said Lobera. “It is not easy playing against a team like Odisha. They have a coach from Spain and it is going to be a difficult game for us. We need to play in our style of attacking football, but balance is an important thing in football. We had two clean sheets. That is also very important, but we need to score goals as that is our philosophy." With their attacking style, it could be interesting as to how Odisha’s coach Stuart Baxter sets his team up.
Despite their painful late goal loss, they can take inspiration from their last game over ATKMB where their defensive display received plaudits. Odisha's character will be strongly tested against Mumbai, a
superior team on paper. They have just collected one point from three games, but will be eager to turn things in their favour.
If Baxter and his men are to collect their first three points of the season, they need to improve upon their attacking display. They have just managed two goals from 35 attempts, which does not give a good account of their team.
"The final third is about flank play, finishing and combination plays and we have been working on all of those very hard. Our possession has not been of the best quality. We have not got enough numbers up there at times. We don't get enough bodies into the box on crosses or make runs around the box to move
defenders for combination play. We are working on that. When it is better with possession, we will get the number of players forward that we need. We will also translate strike into goals," said Baxter.