Contrasting form and fortunes on display as Mohun Bagan Super Giant hosts arch rivals Kerala Blasters FC

Kolkata, 26 December, 2023: Mohun Bagan Super Giant will be gearing up for a crucial encounter at home as take on arch rivals and in-form Kerala Blasters FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on December 27, Wednesday. The Mariners find themselves in a precarious position after nine games, having suffered consecutive defeats against their nearest competitors in the last couple of matches.

The streak began with a gruelling 2-1 defeat at the home of Mumbai City FC, before FC Goa had a strong outing against them, wrapping up a 4-1 victory in their own backyard. Juan Ferrando will need to go back to the drawing board to do a lot of searching as a spate of injuries and absence of key players give him a truncated squad to work with.

The club made a remarkable investment to strengthen the squad with the acquisition of multiple top-tier international and domestic players to further their ambitions at both the country as well as the continental level. The latter came crashing down with their group-stage exit from the AFC Cup, but Ferrando has to salvage pride by competing for the topmost honours in all competitions at home. On the other hand is a Kerala Blasters FC unit that seems eager to bring an end to their wait for the silverware this season.

The Ivan Vukomanovic-coached side has brushed aside concerns over the injury of skipper Adrian Luna with other senior and also inexperienced stars assuming responsibility and delivering the goods consistently against other teams. They swept aside Mumbai City FC by a 2-0 margin in the previous match, but can they replicate those heroics on the road too?

What’s at stake?

Mohun Bagan Super Giant

At stake for the Mariners is the chance to break this unwanted losing streak and get on top of the team that is placed just a place above them in the points table at the moment. They could not have come up against a better opposition to do so though, as their unbeaten record against Kerala Blasters FC is something that Ferrando would want to hold dear to after this game. Kerala Blasters FC have lost five times and drawn once in their six matches against the Mariners in the ISL. In fact, the Kochi-based club are amongst the three teams including Odisha FC and East Bengal FC that are yet to defeat the Mariners in the ISL.

The quality in the MBSG squad is such that they manage to come out triumphant more often than not. Despite the spate of injuries in this campaign, they have scored 19 goals from an expected goals (xG) tally of 12.56 this season, with the Mariners’ xG differential of +6.44 being the highest of all teams in the competition. Ferrando will want for all that to come to the fore in this game.

Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala Blasters FC are on a roll after their clinical 2-0 win against Mumbai City FC even with the absence of captain Adrian Luna. They showed no signs of rustiness as the forwards stepped up and unleashed their impeccable potential with Dimitrios Diamantakos and Kwame Peprah scoring and setting a goal each, in addition to a brilliant defensive performance. The clean sheets would come as a relief for Vukomanovic, as the team has not conceded a goal in their previous two matches and the last time they went on a longer stretch was of three games in December 2014.

The Mariners aren’t the ideal opposition to seal that feat though, as the home team has scored a goal in each of their last 10 matches in the top-tier. In fact, the depth of Ferrando’s squad allows him to introduce quality substitutes and that has resulted in them scoring 10 goals in the second-half of matches this season.

Key Players

Hector Yuste (Mohun Bagan Super Giant)

The Spanish midfielder has been a valuable resource at the centre of the park for the Mohun Bagan Super Giant. He has recorded nearly one interception, 1.3 tackles, and 3.5 clearances per game, whilst playing an average of 47 passes per game at an accuracy of 87%. Yuste has also notched an assist and will don a crucial role in helping the Mariners win the faceoff in the midfield against the Kerala Blasters FC. Not only will he be tasked with breaking the waves of attacks from the opposition, Yuste will also have to constantly keep playing forward passes to set the tempo of the proceedings. He can chip into the box during set-pieces as well, and is an all-round package whose potential has not been optimally unleashed in the ISL thus far. Ferrando will be banking on him to have a cracker of a second-half of the season to help the team realise their ambitions in the ISL.

Prabir Das (Kerala Blasters FC)

Prabir Das is someone who has played every season of the ISL so far and that experience reflects in the solid addition that he has become to the Kerala Blasters FC defensive unit this year. In six appearances, he has made five tackles, 10 interceptions, and 14 clearances, in addition to making a couple of goal-scoring chances to round off a formidable run for the outfit in this campaign. His pairing with Pritam Kotal brings in a sense of assurance to the backline that helps the midfielders explore opportunities upfront without being overly concerned about leaving the defence exposed. Das can fill in various roles at the back, and his versatility coupled with efficiency in carrying out the required tasks make him a valuable asset to any team.

Head-to-Head

Played – 6

Mohun Bagan Super Giant – 5

Kerala Blasters FC – 0

Draws – 1

Trivia: Pritam Kotal has made 23 interceptions in the current ISL season, the highest for any player in the competition.

Team Talk

“We continue with the same situation. Ashish and Yuste can play now. Team is the most important thing for me. We are ready for the next match. We are thinking of the best line-up, who’s fit, and about getting the three points,” Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Juan Ferrando said.

“We have a great group of players, great characters, we have stuck together with team spirit and by fighting for each other. It’s nice to be at the top though we have played more games than FC Goa, who are more consistent with victories and their defensive work I’d say,” Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic said in the pre-match press conference.

ISL Fantasy

Hector Yuste (3.6cr)

One assist so far in ISL 2023-24

Asish Rai (4.6cr)

Consistent performer at the back for the Mariners

Dimitrios Diamatankos (8.4cr)

Six goals so far in this season

If not registered already, fans can participate in the overall league or club-based leagues based on their preferences. Create private leagues, inviting friends and fellow football aficionados to compete. Prizes include a Sony PlayStation ®️ ️5 gaming console, EA Sports FC 24, signed club merchandise, and a Gift Card worth INR 20,000, which will be awarded to 100 winners at the end of the season.

Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 SD & HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam) & DD Bangla (Bengali). In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.

Points Table

Also Read: MFA Super League Group B Roundup: Oranje leads the Pack, Somaiya FC’s unbeaten streak, & Playoff Battles

Also Read: Teams seek to sign off 2023 on a high as ISL 2023-24 reaches halfway mark with upcoming Matchweek 12

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for all the latest happenings in the world of Indian Football.

SSE BFC to conduct trials for U9 to U17 age group players

SSE BFC Soccer School will be conducting fresh trials this month for players aged below 17 to be part of their football program SSE BFC Soccer Schools is a football…

Share

India Khelo Football Season 3 Trials for Mumbai and Thane are here

India Khelo Football (IKF) is back with Season 3 of its widely acclaimed trials with an aim to cover more than 50 cities this time around. After the resounding success…

Share

Mastering the Art of Football Trials: Key Pre-Trial Factors to Keep in Mind

Football trials are a critical juncture for aspiring players to showcase their skills and secure a spot in a team. To maximize your chances of success, it’s essential to tailor your approach based on your playing position as well as keeping in mind a few pre-trial factors.

Share

Somaiya Sports Academy to conduct trials for MFA 2nd Division campaign

Somaiya Sports Academy is looking for passionate young football players for the Somaiya Sports Academy Football Team to compete in the MFA 2nd Division League 2023-2024. If selected, you will…

Share

BFC Soccer Schools – Mumbai to conduct trials for U14 & U16 Girls

The BFC Soccer Schools Elite team girls’ trials are coming up in search of talented players from the U14 to U16 (Born 2009 and after) age groups into the club’s…

Share

Opportunity to make the team: U.K.M. Kothrud FC conducts selection trials for girls team

Pune-based U.K.M. Kothrud FC has announced that they will be conducting selection trials for their girl’s team on 15th January 2023 The club welcomes all players to come and showcase…

Share

The Sunday Football League Season 4 is back

The Sunday Football League is back with its fourth season, and it’s shaping up to be the best one yet. With eight talented teams competing at the Kes Kandivali turf, there…

Share

BFC Soccer Schools Elite team trials in Feb

Bengaluru FC launched their Mumbai program last season with the Soccer Schools and Elite programs with its local partner Soccer Schools of Excellence (SSE).  Bengaluru Football Club is a professional club…

Share

India Khelo Football Season 2 Trials in Mumbai: A Chance to Kickstart Your Football Career

After conducting trials in 34 cities & villages across India, India Khelo Football is coming to Mumbai to hunt talent on 7th January. India Khelo Football kickstarted its season 2…

Share

Mumbai Customs to conduct trials for Elite League

Former champions Mumbai Customs will be holding open trials for the upcoming MFA Elite Corporate League (Elite Division) The 2019 MFA Elite Division champions Mumbai Customs are conducting open trials…

Share