The second round of matches had a lot of exhilarating action to talk about.
The Indian Super League (ISL) is slowly getting into full gear and teams are finding their feet in the competition. In the second round, there were several interesting matches to look for, that resulted in a lot of talking points.
From Bengaluru FC’s continued stale performances to NorthEast United’s incredible comeback against Kerala Blasters, from the first-ever Kolkata Derby in the ISL between ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal to Mumbai City FC’s narrow win over FC Goa, there was no shortage of electrifying action.
Therefore, Khel Now takes a look at the past week’s games and focuses on the five things that were learnt from the ISL 2020-21 Gameweek 2:
5. Carles Cuadrat inhibiting the potential of Bengaluru FC
Bengaluru FC’s shaky start to their campaign continued after they were involved in a goalless draw against Hyderabad FC. Fingers will be pointed at someone by the Blues’ fans who always have high demands from their side. Unfortunately, Carles Cuadrat is in the line of fire for BFC’s below-par performances.
The tactician has some of the most potent attacking players around, despite that, they have not looked very strong going forward. Playing attacking wingers like Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan in a wing-back role has not gone down well with supporters.
The pressure is on the Spaniard to find a system that incorporates the attacking potential of his team before it is too late. The game against Hyderabad saw his side attempt only one shot, which was not on target either. Cuadrat, thus, needs to be braver and take more risks with the attacking options he has.
4. Gerard Nus has NorthEast United playing as a unit
One of the surprise packages in the early stages of the competition have to be NorthEast United and the resilience they have shown. Gerard Nus is the youngest coach in the league and has motivated his team to punch way above their weight.
The Highlanders came back from two goals down against a strong Kerala Blasters team, drawing the game 2-2 in a show of incredible togetherness. The most notable factor in their performance was the impact the substitutes had and how the players never gave up in the face of adversity.
A victory against Mumbai City FC in the first game and a well-deserved point against KBFC in the second, it is clear that NEUFC are not going to be pushed around this season.
3. Mumbai City yet to find their feet under Sergio Lobera
Mumbai City FC have one of the strongest units on paper, but have hardly exhibited their potential on the field. In Sergio Lobera, they have one of the most experienced coaches around and some of the most talented players too.
After opening their season’s account with a disappointing defeat to NEUFC, it seemed like MCFC were heading towards another negative result against FC Goa. However, due to a fortunate handball incident which got them a penalty in the dying stages of the game, the Islanders were able to edge the win.
That said, Lobera has not been able to find any rhythm with the team and the players are still learning to adapt to the tactician’s demands. The two initial performances are proof that MCFC are not firing on all cylinders and must do more to stake claim for the title.
2. SC East Bengal need an experienced striker upfront
It was a massive occasion for Indian football when new entrants SC East Bengal faced arch-rivals ATKMB in their opening fixture of their ISL. The centurion club played some of the most pleasing football, with a squad that did not have much ISL experience.
Furthermore, facing the defending champions ATKMB, the odds were stacked against the Red and Gold, who dominated the ball in many phases of the game. However, they were let down by a weak strikeforce, that had Balwant Singh as the leading attacker.
The forward lacked precise movement or sharpness in his finishing. This led to a lot of attacking opportunities being wasted. As expected, the opposition capitalized on the misses and scored at the other end. While East Bengal showed some fluid gameplay, they desperately need an experienced striker upfront, who will turn those chances into goals.
1. Jamshedpur FC and Odisha FC – six of one, half a dozen of the other
When Jamshedpur FC and Odisha FC faced each other at the Tilak Maidan on Sunday, it was once again a game of two halves in the 2020-21 ISL, with the Men of Steel racing to a 2-0 lead by half-time, only for the Juggernauts to stage a late comeback and force a draw.
In the first half, Jamshedpur started well and launched several attacks on Odisha, with last season’s Golden Boot winner Nerijus Valskis stepping up to capitalize on the Juggernauts’ mistakes and bag a brace. However, in the second half they went into their shell and the red card to custodian TP Rehenesh saw the team collapse like a pack of cards.
In contrast, Odisha FC stepped up their attacks in the later stages of the match and fully exploited their man advantage. However, the Juggernauts also looked out of sorts for most of the game and had it not been for Diego Mauricio who also scored a brace to save his team a point, they would have had to leave with their second defeat of the campaign.
Both Odisha FC and Jamshedpur FC currently a classic case of six of one and half a dozen of the other, as they look like each other in terms of performance.