The second phase of the league saw a string of wonderful displays from the domestic players.
The Indian Super League (ISL) moved into overdrive after a first international break in October. Following an inspired result from the Indian national team against China, the clubs came back in full force to produce some brilliant matches. However, only a few sides have continued their march to the top. There are certain favorites for the playoffs spot already, while others are trying their best to catch the runaways. Here are our talking points from the second phase:
5. Can Kerala Blasters and ATK climb their way into playoffs contention?
The former ISL finalists have had dodgy starts to the season, with lacklustre performances haunting them. While ATK have carved out some narrow wins to stay on the heels of the playoffs spots, Kerala struggled after the break. The Blasters dropped crucial points at home and nothing seems to be going their way.
Both have been riddled by inconsistency and are missing firepower upfront, which is hurting their chances. However, it’s a long season and if both can get a few wins under their belt, they have the mentality and knowhow to grind their way into the playoffs.
4. Youngsters shining through so far
The young Indian talents have finally found a footing in the ISL, with some glowing performances impressing many. Michael Soosairaj has been this season’s breakout star, scoring sensational efforts and lighting up Jamshedpur FC’s games with his movement and dribbling ability.
Komal Thatal and Lallianzuala Chhangte have also been bright sparks, making a stark impression with their excellent pace and urgency to go forward. Thatal scored a fantastic goal against Bengaluru FC, while Chhangte’s been prolific in recent games. The likes of Mohamed Nawaz, Sahal Abdul Samad and Mohamed Rakip have also displayed bright performances, proving that the national team’s future is in good hands.
3. Can Mumbai City make the playoffs?
After a dodgy start, Mumbai City came charging back after the international period. Barring an embarrassing loss to FC Goa, the Islanders have won four out of their last five games, keeping four clean-sheets along the way. Jorge Costa, a former player under Jose Mourinho, has solidified their defence to boot.
Much like his mentor, Costa is also grinding out results for Mumbai. The Islanders picked up crucial away wins against Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United recently and despite being accused of playing negative football, they’ll happily take the points.
2. FC Goa’s foreign core best in the league?
Much like last season, FC Goa’s foreign contingent have been dominating the scene this time around as well. Sergio Lobera has maintained a well-drilled unit, who’ve played sensational football to floor their opponents. The Gaurs’ foreign players have contributed to 16 out of their 21 goals so far, proving how vital they are to Lobera’s sleek system. Edu Bedia and Ferran Corominas have contributed to 12 goals and it’s due to their excellent work that Goa have played such an electric, fluid style of play.
The likes of Bengaluru, Jamshedpur and NorthEast all boast an impressive foreign lineup. However, Goa’s mouthwatering gameplay is mostly due to fantastic work from their foreigners, who have even improved the domestic players in the process.
1. Bengaluru FC dominant as ever
The way Bengaluru are playing, it feels like they’ve been ruling over the ISL for years. If a team’s to be termed as ISL giants, it’s definitely Bengaluru, who have developed an incredible grasp of what it takes to win matches in the league. The Bkues have been fantastic on the road following the break. They’ve recorded three consecutive away wins and looked commanding in attaining them.
Carles Cuadrat has done a fantastic job in retaining the possession-based, fluid style at Bengaluru, which has seen the players up their performance levels. The likes of Sunil Chhetri and Miku have boosted them with stunning performances, but it’s the whole team effort which has kept Bengaluru so dominant.