ISL Final: ATK Mohun Bagan’s individual brilliance up against ‘team’ Mumbai City

ISL Final: ATK Mohun Bagan’s individual brilliance up against ‘team’ Mumbai City

The Mariners are at times over-reliant on Roy Krishna’s genius while Mumbai City depend on their team work…

Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan have been the standout teams in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season in terms of performance and sheer dominance.

The two teams were tied on points at the end of the league stage and have made it to the grand finale by virtue of their quality that sets them apart from the other nine teams.

But the one thing that separates the two teams is the way in which they approach the games. While Mumbai City is a team that thrives on teamwork in attack, ATK Mohun Bagan is more about flashes of individual brilliance upfront.

Coach Sergio Lobera’s style of possession-based attacking football needs the entire to function as a unit in order to get success while Antonio Lopez Habas’ pragmatic approach most of the time needs individuals to shine in the attacking third.

What sets the two teams apart is their approach in attack. It is often observed that Mumbai City rely on Sergio Lobera’s system as opposed to merely depending on the individual brilliance of a few players. To illustrate this, one can look at how Mumbai City’s full-backs have excelled despite not being known traditionally for their attacking prowess.

A lot of their goals are a result of a well-coordinated attacking move or a set-piece pattern from the training ground as opposed to just relying on a mistake made by the opponent.

This isn’t always the case with Bagan who are heavily dependent on Roy Krishna to inspire and create chances out of nothing. In fact, in the game against NorthEast United, the second leg of the play-offs, it was Krishna who was at the centre of every attacking move initiated by the Kolkata side, and it’s his intelligent movement/runs which make space for his fellow attackers.

When it comes to Mumbai, they have multiple channels to attack. From moving the ball wide to Bipin Singh or one of their full-backs to attempting to open the defence through the middle or a ball over the top from Ahmed Jahouh for some of the runners to get behind the defence.

The same isn’t true for Habas’ side who more often than not usually attempt to find Krishna or Manvir in the hope of creating something as opposed to a well-worked move which makes one applaud the tactical brilliance or their fluidity in attack.

It is not to say that one style of play is superior to the other or that ATK Mohun Bagan will struggle. It is just an attempt to highlight the inherent difference in the way the two teams attack. While it might be difficult to put a plug on Mumbai City’s attacking system, the same can be said about ATK Mohun Bagan as well. Yes, they are heavily reliant on Krishna and marking him out of the game will choke their attack to an extent. 

However, the kind of player that Krishna is, it is going to be incredibly difficult to keep him out of the game. 

Then you’ve got the midfield as well. Both team’s midfielders are also slightly different. While the likes of Rowllin Borges and Raynier Fernandes (if played there) are seen making late runs into the box and getting into scoring positions as an alternative to the team’s strikers, you rarely see that at ATK Mohun Bagan. Yes, it happens rarely when Javi Hernandez is in full flow or if Edu Garcia is in his element. Apart from that, not much support is visible from ATK Mohun Bagan’s midifeld. But then again, that is their style of play and that has worked wonders for them so far.

On the whole, it promises to be terrific clash between two of the best sides in the league so far. 

Both coaches have their own style of play and they are both successful with their respective philosophies. An exciting clash is on the cards when the two teams with two different approaches locks horns on Saturday in the final.

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