We take a look at some of the important factors from the third week of the league campaign.
The third week of the Indian Super League (ISL) played host to multiple exciting games of football. Interestingly, there were only five matches to look out for in the entire week.
Reigning Champions Bengaluru FC secured their first three points of the new campaign, when they dispatched a stuttering Chennaiyin FC side at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. The Marina Machans are yet to pick up a win so far this term. But, more worryingly, they haven’t even managed to find the back of the net on a single occasion!
Two of the tournament’s early pace-setters clashed, as ATK successfully out-manoeuvred the threat posed by high-flying Jamshedpur FC. The men from Kolkata were in rampant form on the night, with star man Roy Krishna scoring a brace to seal the win.
Another key fixture that was played out, involved Kerala Blasters and the newly-formed Odisha FC. The fixture was played at a slower pace than normal and there was an apparent lack of quality throughout the match. The lack of fitness of players from the hosts was clear to see, as that game was headed for a stalemate right from kick-off.
In the remaining two fixtures from the week, NorthEast United defeated an upbeat Hyderabad FC side, thanks to a late penalty by Maximiliano Barreiro. Meanwhile, FC Goa announced their candidacy for the league title by beating Mumbai City FC.
Here are our talking points from what was indeed an eventful week of football in the cash-rich league:
1. Are Chennaiyin FC already out of the playoffs picture after just three weeks?
The Marina Machans suffered their third defeat of the ISL campaign, as they were dismantled by a determined looking Bengaluru. Despite John Gregory’s best efforts, his team are yet to manage a single goal so far this season, with the players seemingly losing the plot with every passing game.
The former ISL finalists have been unable to create anything going forward and have only collected one point from their four games so far. John Gregory went on to hint about resigning in his most recent press conference, meaning that he’s effectively given up on the cause. The lack of attacking creativity needs to be addressed at the earliest, if they have any hopes of being in the playoffs picture, come the end of the season.
2. Could NorthEast United be the dark-horses in the title race this season?
The Highlanders could be in with a real shot at the ISL title this season, if their current run of form continues through to the end of the campaign. Although, they haven’t picked up maximum points, the fact that Robert Jarni’s men are still unbeaten says a lot about their performances this term.
Though, their two wins have come against Hyderabad and Odisha, the young Highlanders side have shown glimpses of their quality in the campaign. That said, they do need to find the back of the net with more consistency from hereon.
The five games produced 14 goals and caused trouble in the league table.
3. Has Carles Cuadrat made Bengaluru’s defence impenetrable while dealing with his attacking worries?
Reigning champions Bengaluru didn’t start the campaign in very good fashion. Although, they currently find themselves in fifth place on the table, Cuadrat certainly won’t be over-satisfied with his team’s attacking performances so far this term.
It’s now slowly beginning to look like while working on Bengaluru’s inability to score goals, the coach has also sured up in another key part of the pitch – defence.
The Blues have only leaked one goal in their four games so far. They conceded an unfortunate penalty against Goa in the final minutes of the match.
4. Could the strike partnership between Roy Krishna and David Williams bear fruit for ATK this season?
Although, Bengaluru have always played with a front three, the combination play between Sunil Chhetri and Miku was one of the main features of their attacking game. With the latter now having departed the ISL, there seems to be a new dynamic duo in town.
ATK’s Roy Krishna and David Williams have had the experience of playing with each other in the past, during their spell together at Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League. As was visible from their statement victory over Jamshedpur, the pair are both excellent finishers. Moreover, the seemingly telepathic connection between them will go a long way for ATK as well.
5. In the matter of one week, have Bengaluru FC suddenly become the team to beat again?
At the start of the week, the Blues were swamped near the bottom of the table, having collected just three draws from their games so far. Seven days down the line though, the Blues suddenly look like the team to beat going into the international break.
Their display against Chennaiyin FC can only be described as dominant. Sunil Chhetri and his men ran riot on the Chennaiyin defence for most of the match. In fact, the Marina Machans were extremely lucky that the game finished with the scoreline still at 3-0.