Mumbai City FC started with three at the back. After a few minutes, they switched to a four-man defence with Sehnaj Singh and Raju Gaikwad being the right and left full-backs respectively. Sahil Tavora was deployed on the left wing with Sanju Pradhan on the right. Then Tavora was shifted to the right for a few minutes and Pradhan through the middle. Then in the second half, Marcio Rosario was substituted for Leo Costa which saw Gerson Vieira moving as a centre-back.
If you find all of the above confusing or difficult to comprehend, these were only some of the changes made by Alexandre Guimaraes!
Mumbai City kept trying their luck from distance throughout the first half. They had a total of 17 shots from outside the box and to be fair, not many threatened the Delhi citadel. Yes, they should have had a penalty when Edu Moya brushed aside Balwant Singh inside the box in the first half. Pratik Chowdhury’s fantastic goal-line clearance and their two goalkeepers, Xabi Irureta and Arnab Das Sharma, made top saves to keep Delhi very much in the game.
However, the blame has to be shouldered by Guimaraes and his technical staff. The difference in the two teams’ performance was apparent. While Delhi’s Indian players such as Nandha Kumar, who should have scored at least two, Sajid Dhot, Pritam Kotal, Munmun Lugun, Lallianzuala Chhangte put in a decent shift, the Indian contingent of Mumbai City, bar Balwant, didn’t really turn up.
Full-back is a position where Mumbai have struggled all season. It wasn’t surprising to see Delhi get their first goal thanks to some atrocious defending from Tavora. Rosario and Lucian Goian were busy asking the linesman to raise the flag for offside instead of tracking the run of Nandha Kumar.
Almost every attack of Delhi came through Manuel Arana. His ability to draw players towards him and thereby, release the ball at the apt moment for the wingers has been exceptional. It must be noted that since his signing, Delhi have gone on an unbeaten run of five matches. In fact, he has made other players around him look good as well. He won the penalty, converted it and also assisted Kalu Uche for the fourth goal.
Matias Mirabaje, a player who was considered the worst of the lot at Delhi, all of a sudden looks galvanized and has produced moments of magic from the middle of the park. The Uruguayan showed his tricks in the first half especially when he evaded past five Mumbai players and still kept the ball at his feet.
Delhi may have missed out on the play-offs but the manner in which they have played in the last few matches, their season wouldn’t be completely considered disastrous. You wouldn’t need to make whole-sale changes to the squad.
On the other hand, Mumbai looked out of their depth. Here is a squad where their Indian contingent, except one or two, none would make it into the starting eleven of the top four teams. They need to rebuild, reconfigure, refurbish, reinvent and hit the refresh button as soon as the season comes to an end. They cannot continue in the same vein.