Yet another week of Indian Super League action concluded on Sunday and the race to top four has been intensified. Bengaluru FC, who started the week on top position, ensured that they didn’t fall off the summit with a comfortable victory over struggling ATK. But in the top four, which has been usually dominated by four sides, saw a new team in the shape of Jamshedpur FC enter the frey as the Steve Coppell-led side cruised to fourth spot with victory over Mumbai City FC.
Chennaiyin FC did not play a match in this week but that did not change their position in the table. They are in second place with 23 points in 12 matches while FC Pune City, who lost their game against Kerala Blasters are places third.
Once again, FC Goa dazzled by playing attacking football against NorthEast United only for their defence to come up short during an entertaining 2-2 draw. This saw them drop to fifth place. On the other hand, riding on terrific victory against Pune, Kerala Blasters leapfrogged Mumbai City in the points charts. By the end of this month, the top four places will be finalised and currently seven teams are in the hunt for those elusive semi-final berths. The likes of ATK, NorthEast United and Delhi Dynamos face near impossible task of qualifying in the top four.
As yet another week of Indian Super League is set to begin from Tuesday, here are few talking points from the week 12:
Bengaluru maintain winning run despite not being at their best
Bengaluru’s game against ATK ended with a scoreline of 2-0 but that didn't reflect the story of the match. Not that ATK deserved to win the match but Albert Rocca’s side did not play at the level expected of them. It seemed Bengaluru's players, especially in the midfield, were playing through fatigue. They lost the ball often and the intent to win the ball back was lacking. Their first goal against ATK was a third-minute own goal by Jordi Montel while the second goal came late in the second half thanks to Miku. Between those two goals, ATK enjoyed quite a few chances. Ashley Westwood’s team gave it all but failed to score. Bengaluru’s goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was on top form throughout the match, pulling off crucial saves and was a major reason why Bengaluru ended up getting all three points.
The kind of performance against ATK show that Bengaluru have the ability to win a match despite not being at their best. It also also shows that how vital Gurpreet is to the club and on his days, he can win the matches for his team.
Jamshedpur FC in top form
Steve Coppell’s team has turned it around and how! They have peaked at the right time as club has won four matches in the last five they have played. Playing away from home against Mumbai City, Jamshedpur clinched a 2-1 win after Bikash Jairu made no mistake in slotting in from a rebound late in the game.
Jamshedpur’s start to the league was not good but they had the experience of Coppell, who knows a thing or two about turning around things. Apart from solving the goal-scoring issues that plagued the side in the early stages of the league, Steve Coppell also brought in the cutting edge feature to the team that was important in converting draws into victories. Jamshedpur were involved in few matches that ended up with scorelines of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 in their favour. In those matches, Jamshedpur were not always the best side, but they knew how to take those three points. And credit should go their manager.
CK Vineeth shines for Kerala
Often in football, all it takes to win a game is a player who scores a special goal. So many times it had happened and so many times it will happen in future. Last week, it was CK Vineeth who came up with a blinder to help his team win the match against FC Pune City. The scorecard read 1-1 and with three minutes into the injury time, Vineeth’s delightful left-foot shot from outside the penalty box found the back of the net. This came seconds after Marcelinho hit the crossbar and it was in a period where Pune were threatening to take the match away from Kerala.
"CK Vineeth's goal is special. It was what we needed to beat a very good Pune City side," praised James and joked, "I actually tell them not to shoot from outside the box. They didn't listen to me."
In the larger scheme of things, Vineeth’s goal might make a big difference to their team’s top four chances. David James’ sides have the momentum and now they should exploit it to the maximum.
FC Goa’s concerns
After first few week of the ISL, FC Goa looked like a team that could occupy the top spots for a long time. Now just five matches left to play for them, their campaign to seal one of the top four spots look to be in jeopardy. Against NorthEast, Goa, once again, scored two terrific goals thanks to Mandar Rao Desai and Ferran Corominas but they ended up conceding both the times.
Defence has been a major area of concern for Sergio Lobero’s team and if it’s not fixed soon then Goa might lose out on the top four finish. It will be a pity if that happens because no team in the league plays eye-pleasing attacking football than Goa. Right now they are level on points with Kerala Blasters but they have a better goal difference and two matches in hand. It’s not going to be easy for Goa.
Updated Date: Feb 05, 2018 21:57 PM