Yet to concede their first defeat, Churchill Brothers are at the top of the points table right now.
With the I-League entering its latter stages and just a few matches remaining before the segregation between the top half of the table and the bottom half, clubs have focused more on possession-based football, with the number of passes at an all-time high over the course of the last two game-weeks.
A stark differentiation from the opening stage of the Hero I-League that saw major reliance on counter-attacks, it looks like fast-paced possession-based football seems to be the key for several clubs. Though there are still oddities like TRAU who produced a stellar counter-attack performance to win 1-0 against Aizawl, clubs seem to move away from the direction of sitting back and hitting on the counter.
With 57% of attacks coming from open play, clubs have emphasized possession. League leaders Churchill Brothers have had 53% possession so far, while Gokulam Kerala FC and Chennai City FC lead the possession table by a staggering 55%. With their possession, the Red Machines have made a whopping 38% entrances into the final third. However, Aizawl FC who have had 54% possession made a staggering 40% entries.
The number of passes has also gone up significantly in the Hero I-League. There is an average of 314 passes in the game by one particular side. Gokulam Kerala FC lead the table with a mammoth 391 passes in their last match. Chennai City FC follow closely behind with 373 and Real Kashmir, preferring a more direct style of play, have only 203.
The Snow Leopards meanwhile excel in passes into the penalty box with 56%. Aizawl FC with 49% and Gokulam Kerala FC with 46%. The individual performances also speak volume as to how the league has changed from a counter-attacking style of play to a more possession-based.
Songpu Singsit leads the assist table with 3, averaging 0.70 assists per 90 minutes. Although Dennis Antwi, Deepak Devrani, and Sena Ralte also have 3 assists each, they fall behind to a lesser average. Churchill Brother’s midfielder Bryce Miranda has made 30 passes into the penalty box and Chennai City FC’s Iqbal Mohammad has a 47% key pass ratio.
In a league where anyone can beat anyone on their day, the excitement meter blows a bar. What is even more fascinating is how closely packed the Hero I-League table is. A win and you could be second, a loss and you could be in the bottom half. The possession-based tacky style of football has just another more gloss for the neutrals.