Mumbai: Pass judiciously, keep the ball on the deck and split the opponent's defence swiftly. This technique surely rings a bell but it isn't a Spanish side that we are talking about. On Tuesday night, Jamshedpur FC manifested the ever-effective Spanish technique to outsmart a torpid Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena.
It was a rather unusual start to the match with tackles flying left, right and center in the midfield; bearing a similarity to Sunday League football. While Jamshedpur's organisation was pleasing to the eye, it took Mumbai 14 minutes to stitch together their first play and they surprised the visitors and fans when Lucian Goian's header sailed over the bar. And that was one of the only two productive plays from the Mumbai outfit in the first half.
Meanwhile, every blade of grass was covered by the Jamshedpur players as the freshly-installed Spanish essence, thanks coach Cesar Ferrando and a host of La Roja players, was evident right from the beginning. Not only did they dictate the pace of the match but also threatened when not in possession. They demonstrated high-quality pressing in the opposition's box to create panic among the Mumbai back four.
A cursory glance at the half-time possession statistics does complete justice to Jamshedpur's attacking flair throughout the 45 mins — JFC 64% - 36% MCFC. Ferrando's system prompts his attacking players to make off-the-ball movements to find pockets of spaces, while his midfielders manipulate the tempo.
Starting right from the middle of the park, the two central midfielders, namely Memo and Mario Arques, played a pivotal role as they were the fulcrum of the possession-based setup. Little did the Mumbai defenders know that Jamshedpur were not playing in patterns but in a more free-flowing manner.
Arques' overhead effort in the ninth minute sent alarm bells ringing in the Mumbai camp after lanky defenders Mark Klisura and Goian were taken by surprise. None of the Mumbai players exuded confidence with the ball, leaving coach Jorge Costa animated on the touchline. They consistently lost possession and allowed Jamshedpur to power ahead.
Ferrando, on the other hand, seemed pleased with his side's progression, which also revealed the gulf of class between the two sides early on in the game. Soon after creating a plethora of chances, the Jamshedpur clan managed to put a smile on suspended Tim Cahill's face as Arques relayed a crossfield pass to fellow Spaniard Carlos Calvo, who threaded a neat cross for Arques which he headed home from an acute angle in the 28th minute.
By the half-hour mark, Jamshedpur were in control with Sergio Cidoncha and Arques pulling strings in the midfield. Winger Jerry Mawihmingthanga was equally terrorising on the right flank, causing all sorts of problems for the Mumbai defence. A little bit of showboating, followed by a few twists and turns enabled him to manipulate the rhythm of the match with elan.
.@JerryMawia10 was a constant threat down the right-hand side for @JamshedpurFC! His performance tonight has earned him the Hero of the Match award #LetsFootball #FanBannaPadega #MUMJAM pic.twitter.com/L2e7aAXmIO
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) October 2, 2018
Expectations were that half-time team-talk would elicit a fiery response from Mumbai's arsenal, considering Costa knows a thing or two about it from his former FC Porto coach Jose Mourinho. Mumbai did come out strongly but couldn't make the most of the passage of play they created early on in the second-half. Unfortunately for Costa, his style on the night was more like the current Mourinho style at Manchester United.
Mumbai's lone striker Modou Sougou was often sandwiched between the two Jamshedpur defenders — Tiri and Raju Gaikwad. The Senegalese striker just couldn't find the space to make a run or have a go at the goal.
Much of the credit goes to Spanish defender Tiri, who is Ferrando's leader at the back. "Tiri is very good. Tiri, Paul and Cahill are our captains. He is very important for us in defence and he pushes the team a lot. He tries to continue to do very well and I am very happy with him," said Ferrando after the match.
Mumbai had a marginal advantage in terms of physicality but that was nowhere to be seen. They could only force Jamshedpur to track back and defend. At this moment, Costa would have had a fair idea of his counterpart's all-out attacking approach to even the toughest of situations. Costa's men did get the ball into the net twice, but those goals were ruled out correctly for offside.
A thumping header by Mohammad Rafique sent the home fans into a pandemonium but the offside flag ruined their celebration. This was repeated, this time with a Sougou header rebounding in off the post but the linesman was spot on once again.
To make it even more difficult, whenever Mumbai thought they had successfully caught the Jamshedpur defence off guard, shot-stopper Subashish Chowdhary would come to the rescue. He denied an incredible effort from Sanju Pradhan and then pulled out a stunning stop to deny Sougou minutes later. It just wasn't clicking for the Islanders.
"My keeper performed very well. He is another player on the team and we need to play one goalkeeper. He did his work and he did it very well and I am very happy for him. But we have Paul banned and today our keeper played very well. He made good saves but we must think we did something bad (in defence). We have to defend better," explained the former Atletico Madrid boss.
While the hosts were frantically searching for the equaliser, substitute Pablo Margado, another Spaniard, hit the final nail on the coffin by finding space on the right wing and blasting the ball past Mumbai's Amrinder Singh. All in all, Jamshedpur adhered to coach Ferrando's instructions to outplay an unorganised Mumbai side in their own den. Jamshedpur's Spanish influence is ticking all the boxes and with Cahill available for the forthcoming matches, the squad looks ready to prove its worth.
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Updated Date: Oct 03, 2018 14:32:54 IST