With just two rounds of fixtures remaining in the group stage of the Indian Super League 2019-20 season, three teams, namely ATK, FC Goa and Bengaluru FC have already wrapped up qualification for three of the four play-off slots. The final fourth-placed spot, however, is a toss-up between Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC, both of whom are separated by just four points, and are slated to play against each other on 21 February, in what is a must-win match for all parties involved. Meanwhile, Odisha FC, who will be hoping to mark their maiden campaign with a play-off run, are also in with an outside chance. In this guide to the play-offs, we take a look at the standings for this season, the fixtures that lie in wait for would-be semi-finalists and break down the qualification chances of every club still in the running:
ATK - Status: Qualified for semi-finals (33 points)
Last five matches: W-W-W-W-L
Fixtures remaining: Chennaiyin FC (H), Bengaluru FC (A)
ATK and Goa have little separating them at the moment, with both teams on 33 points after 16 matches and an identical tally of wins (10), draws (3) and defeats (3). ATK, however, just about have the edge on Goa in terms of goal difference, despite having scored fewer goals than the Gaurs, thanks mainly to their excellent defensive record. Their final two matches are difficult, to say the least, with playoff-hopefuls Chennaiyin and defending champions Bengaluru FC on the cards, so ATK might yet slip to second or third by the time we're done with the season.
FC Goa - Status: Qualified for semi-finals (33 points)
Last five matches: W-W-D-W-L
Fixtures remaining: FC Goa (A), Chennaiyin FC (H)
Mathematically, Mumbai City FC have the best chance of qualifying for the final play-off spot on offer, but just a cursory glance at their fixture list will prove that it's not quite that simple. The first of their final two matches sees them come up against league-leaders FC Goa, followed by a home fixture against play-off rivals Chennaiyin FC. At the moment, Jorge Costa's Islanders have their fate in their own hands, and two wins out of two would see them qualify for the play-offs regardless of Chennaiyin FC's results. However, Chennaiyin FC do have a game in hand, and should Mumbai falter at any point, they could easily find themselves overtaken.
Chennaiyin FC - Status: Yet to qualify (22 points)
Last five matches: D-W-W-W-W
Fixtures remaining: ATK (A), Mumbai City FC (A), NorthEast United FC (A)
Chennaiyin FC did not have an easy start to their campaign, losing three of their first four matches of the season. These results were seen to be a continuation of the previous season's terrible showing, in which Chennaiyin FC finished dead last, with just two wins to their name. The club acted quickly and terminated title-winning coach John Gregory's contract just weeks into the season. Owen Coyle was then appointed to the role of head coach, after which their form gradually began to improve, but the first glimpses of a genuine comeback became visible fairly recently when the team won four matches in a row to throw their hat in the ring for the playoffs.
At the moment, much like their counterparts Mumbai City FC, Chennaiyin FC also have a large degree of control over their fate. Their remaining fixtures are undoubtedly difficult, especially the two against ATK and Mumbai, but if they can build on their current momentum and secure three more victories, they will make it into the play-offs.
Odisha FC - Status: Yet to qualify (21 points)
Last five matches: L-L-L-W-W
Fixtures remaining: NorthEast United FC (H), Kerala Blasters (H)
The debutantes are the underdogs here, desperately clinging on to rapidly evaporating hopes of an against-the-odds qualification. Their fate is quite decidedly not in their hands, and they need both Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC to suffer from a meltdown the likes of which have rarely been seen before. Even a single victory for Mumbai City FC would effectively rule out Odisha, as would a pair of wins for Chennaiyin. At the moment, all they can do is focus on their own remaining fixtures, and in that regard, they do have luck on their side. They face eighth and ninth-placed sides Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United, both of whom have had terrible seasons, so on paper, at least, Odisha could very easily pick up six more points. That will still probably be too little too late, but this is football we're talking about, so you can never really be 100 percent sure.
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Updated Date: Feb 11, 2020 18:02:20 IST