FC Pune City take on Mumbai City FC in the first Maharashtra derby of the Indian Super League season 2 tonight, and while the star names that will be on show, include the likes of Nicolas Anelka (Mumbai City FC) and Adrian Mutu (FC Pune City), there are plenty of other players set to make a big impact.
While Anelka looks set to take part in the game, the availability of former Juventus and Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu remains doubtful.
Even Indian stars like Sunil Chhetri, Subrata Paul, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh will be absent from the game, as they are presently with the national team ahead of the two back-to-back 2018 World Cup preliminary joint qualification games this month.
However, the key players at the disposal of both teams tonight remains aplenty, and we look into some of the big names who will be expected to play a major part in the Maha derby.
FC Pune City:
Didier Zokora - There's probably no player in the squad who is as experienced as him. The former Tottenham and Sevilla defensive midfielder will be one of the key men that will link up the defence with the attack for the home side. His partnership with Eugeneson Lyngdoh, could have given a further solidity, but in any case, Zokora's formidable presence will be the star attraction in the heart of midfield for Pune.
Zokora, who is the highest-capped player for Ivory Coast, is expected to use his versatility to full use today.
Tuncay Sanli - The Fernerbahce legend is another star attraction in the side. Although it may be regarded that Tuncay is past his peak, the 33-year-old's goalscoring prowess hasn't died down. A versatile forward, Tuncay has the ability to change the direction of the game, when he is on form.
Only second to Hakan Sukur in the list of the highest goalscorers for Turkey, Tuncay, who is fondly remembered for his hat-trick against Manchester United in a UEFA Champions League game in 2004, last played for Qatar Stars League outfit Umm Salal, where he scored 11 goals in 24 appearances.
Lenny Rodrigues - In the absence of Jackichand Singh, the seasoned Indian midfielder will be taking things upon himself to put on a dominant display. The India international, who is a two-time I-League winner with Churchill Brothers, is revered for his incisive short and long passing, as well as his precise tackles.
The 28-year-old was a key figure for the Maharashtra outfit last season in the ISL as well, and is expected to be a formidable figure in the lineup this time as well.
Mumbai City FC:
Andre Moritz - The Brazilian attacking midfielder became a household name after scoring the first hat-trick in the history of the ISL last season. Interestingly, his hat-trick came against FC Pune City in the 5-0 drubbing last time.
The 29-year-old former Crystal Palace player was instrumental in the games he participated in for the Ranbir Kapoor co-owned side last season, but his fitness was a problem in the latter stages of the competition. However, the Brazilian, who is fortunately injury-free so far, is expected to heat things up on the attacking front. And his link-up with Sony Norde and Nicolas Anelka will also be crucial.
Sony Norde - After a dream of a first season with I-League champions Mohun Bagan, the versatile Haitian forward is expected to give that much-needed attacking teeth to the side. The absence of Sunil Chhetri from the game will not be much of an issue if Norde plays his part.
The 26-year-old forward has got exceptional potential, as he is impressive with his dribbling, passing and final balls. Norde will be one of the key players to watch out for today.
Debjit Majumder - The Mohun Bagan custodian is expected to make it to the starting 11, in the absence of Subrata Paul. Those who have followed the last season of the I-League closely will know how tremendous the performance of the Indian custodian was in the closing stages of the league.
Awarded the Best Goalkeeper of I-League 2015, as well as the Man of the Match award in the Kolkata derby in March this year, the reflexes and positioning of the goalkeeper is expected to catch eyes in the match today.