In the absence of Diego Forlan, Mumbai City FC will seek to overturn their first-leg Indian Super League semi-final defeat 2-3 against Atletico de Kolkata at Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The Uruguayan striker who won the Golden Boot at FIFA World Cup in 2010 was sent off in the first-leg with two yellow cards and will sit out of the all-important return clash. Four of Forlan’s five goals have come at Mumbai Football Arena and Mumbai City FC have not won a single game when Forlan has sat out, including a 1-1 draw against Atletico de Kolkata in Mumbai.
It is not just Forlan’s form in front of goal that Mumbai will miss. The Uruguayan is dangerous with set pieces — both goals in the first leg came from Forlan set-pieces and he drops back in midfield to help the team move forward.
“It’s difficult for me to predict now whether we will suffer in Diego’s absence. After the game we can talk about that. In the games that he didn’t play, like against ATK, we performed well. The one who is going to play in Diego’s spot, I don’t have any doubt that he will do the best to help us get through (to the final),” said coach Alexandre Guimaraes.
It’s not all gloomy for Mumbai. They have enjoyed a stellar campaign at home and much of it has come down to their ability to defend well. They have conceded just three goals at home, the least among all teams, and their tally of four clean sheets at home is also the most by any team.
“The players are excited to play in front of our fans, who have been great. I hope on tomorrow (Tuesday), we have a full stadium and the fans will push our players to the limit. We have to play smart. We don’t have to be suicidal (with our game),” said Guimaraes.
Atletico de Kolkata are the only team to have qualified in all three editions of the ISL and will be keen to make up for their disappointing semi-final loss against eventual winners Chennaiyin FC last season.
The visitors will have an advantage as they need only a draw to book their tickets for Sunday’s grand finale in Kochi but coach Jose Molina said they will not pack the defence and protect their win in Kolkata.
“Nothing changes for us because of the result in Kolkata. We will not play in a different way. Of course, we know we have a small advantage and we have to keep calm but everything depends how the game is going on tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Molina.
Atletico de Kolkata have never scored in an away leg semi-final in the ISL but they will remain confident that they can sail through if they can only keep a clean slate.
Interestingly, Atletico de Kolkata collected just eight points at home, the least among all semi-finalists in ISL history, but their patchy home form means they are strong away, winning more points away from home (12) for the first time in ISL history.
“To lose only two games out of 15 (in the league) is something really good but tomorrow (Tuesday) is a different match. What we did in the past is not important. If we go to the final, it will be because tomorrow (Tuesday), we will play a good match, not because of what we did before. I live in the present not past,” said Molina.