Article by Mohak Arora, Sports Expert Parimatch brand.

We have entered the business end of the 2022-23 Indian Super League season. While Mumbai City has already won the League Winners’ Shield, the battle to qualify for the next round is intensifying steadily, with each error proving to be costlier than ever before.

In this article, we will take a look at the five turning points of the season so far:

1. Bengaluru’s Epic Rise

Bengaluru FC fans would have had high expectations from their team, and for the right reasons as well, as the Blues won the 2022 Durand Cup. Yet, Simon Grayson’s team had a horrendous start to their campaign, where they won only one of their first six matches.

The next set of six fixtures saw them winning just two matches, and at the end of the year, it seemed that the Blues were already out of the top-six race. However, they have turned things around brilliantly with a run of seven straight wins, which came against NorthEast United, Odisha, Jamshedpur, Chennaiyin, ATK Mohun Bagan, Kerala Blasters, and Mumbai City.

2. Chennaiyin’s Nasty Downfall

Chennaiyin’s story is the exact opposite of Bengaluru’s. Under the guidance of Thomas Brdaric, the Marina Machans had a good start to their campaign, and in the first half of the season, it seemed that their place in the top six was all but secured. They won three of their first six games and had 10 points to their name.

However, back-to-back defeats against Odisha and Hyderabad back in November derailed them. Though the Marina Machans came back with a stunning 7-3 win against NorthEast United, their season turned for worse ever since. After that victory, they remained winless in eight matches, losing three and drawing five of those games. Subsequently, they were eliminated from the race for the top six.

3. ATK Mohun Bagan Lose The Plot In 2023

ATK Mohun Bagan is, much like Chennaiyin, a team who started off brightly but then lost their charisma mid-way through the season. The Mariners’ hopes of winning the League Winners’ Shield looked well in sight when they lost only two of their first 11 matches, and won six of those games.

But then came a run of poor form, which has only gotten worse in 2023. Since the turn of the year, Juan Ferrando’s team has played five matches and won only one of those games. They have drawn two fixtures against  Chennaiyin and Jamshedpur and lost two matches against Mumbai City and Bengaluru. It is because of this run that they are now effectively out of the top-two race as well.

4. Odisha Spice Things Up

Odisha FC vs Hyderabad FC Match Report Indian Super League ISL 2022-23
Odisha split open the top six race by beating Hyderabad
Photo: Shibu Preman / Focus Sports / ISL

Having talked about patterns over a period of time in the three previous mentions, let us now talk about one particular fixture which proved to be highly significant from the tournament’s perspective. Odisha had a good start to their season as they won six of their first nine matches, and back then, their place in the top six looked all but guaranteed.

Unfortunately for Josep Gambau’s men, the second half of the season proved really tricky as that run was followed by a run of ten games which saw the Kalinga Warriors winning only one game. When the Juggernauts met Hyderabad on 10th February, a victory was needed to keep Odisha alive in the race, while for Hyderabad, it was the last chance to extend their hopes of winning the League Winners’ Shield. 

It was the Kalinga Warriors who emerged successfully, winning the game by a 3-1 margin to re-invigorate themselves, while Mumbai City then defeated Goa 5-3 to win the shield with two games to spare.

5. Sandeep Singh’s Injury proves fatal for Kerala Blasters

We will conclude this list with the mention of an injury, which brought about a team’s downfall. Kerala Blasters, who were among the most consistent teams last season, had a poor start to the season as they lost three of their first four matches.

Head coach Ivan Vukomanovic then decided to change his set-up and introduced Sandeep Singh in the right-back position. The Manipuri football proved to be a leader at the back for the Tuskers, as his introduction completely changed the look of the team.

Out of the nine matches he played, Kerala Blasters won seven games, while losing just one fixture. Moreover, he helped his team keep four clean sheets during this run. However, he then suffered a fracture in his ankle, which once again halted the Tuskers’ rise.

In the five matches that he did not play, Vukomanovic’s team lost on three occasions, including a surprising defeat against one of the bottom-dwellers of the league, East Bengal.

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