Weekly Round up Race for playoffs gets more intriguing and table toppers tussle as Matchweek 15 ends with top 4 separated by 3 points

The Matchweek 15 action of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 rounded off with Odisha FC continuing to lead the points table despite not featuring in the last eight matches.

20 goals were scored across eight matches in a series of gripping encounters that saw Jamshedpur FC (4-0 vs Punjab FC) and Mohun Bagan Super Giant (4-2 vs NorthEast United FC) recording big victories with the likes of East Bengal FC, Mohun Bagan Super Giant, Chennaiyin FC, and Mumbai City FC getting past Hyderabad FC, FC Goa, Kerala Blasters FC, and East Bengal FC with a wafer thin margin of 1-0 respectively.

Interestingly, the standings are heating up as the season approaches its final stages, with there being no draws this past week as each match saw some visible movement in the rankings of the concerned teams. A total of 189 shots were taken across eight games, boiling down to 23.62 of them per match. 64 shots were hit on target, showing 33.86% accuracy on the part of the players.

The teams were defensively proactive, with the matchweek gone by seeing 170 interceptions being made – 21.25 of them coming in every game on an average. Here is what rests in store for the teams set to play in the next round of games, keeping in backdrop the results witnessed in the last seven days.

FC Goa looks to thwart competition

Until some time ago, the Gaurs were comfortably placed at the top, but their unbeaten streak was broken by the Mariners this week and the Manolo Marquez-coached side is embroiled in an intense tussle currently.

They are tied on points with Mumbai City FC (28), and have been surpassed by Odisha FC (31) and Mohun Bagan Super Giant (29) in the standings. They face the misfiring Kerala Blasters FC and NorthEast United FC in matchweek 16. With 19 goals, the Gaurs have a shot conversion rate of 11.9%, which is only the ninth best in the league.

It is their defensive solidity, of keeping seven clean sheets and conceding the same count of goals that have taken them so far in the competition. The absence of Sandesh Jhingan is thus bound to hit their prospects, especially when they face the Highlanders, whose latest acquisition Tomi Juric has hit the ground running with three goals in as many games already.

Whether Juric turns up for the challenge again on Wednesday will have a massive impact on the Gaurs breaking out of the crowded space that is beginning to unfold in the top half of the table.

Jamshedpur FC to strengthen their surge

Jamshedpur FC has won and drawn twice each since the league resumed late last month. 47.05% of their points (8) this season have been won under the watch of Khalid Jamil, despite the tactician being at the helm of only 25% (4) of their total matches so far (16). 42.85% of their goals (9) have been scored since Jamil took over the reins, and by all means, the Red Miners are just getting started in their pursuit of possibly doing the unthinkable in this campaign.

They have netted an overwhelming 62% of their goals (13) in the second half, which will be put to test against East Bengal FC who have given away 50% of their strikes in the       ` final 45 minutes of games. Jamshedpur FC has not lost in the ISL since the departure of Scott Cooper, whereas the Red & Gold Brigade have only won once in their previous seven encounters. All in all, we are in for a cracker of a contest.

Another top-of-the-table tussle awaits

Odisha FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant promise fireworks when they clash in Bhubaneswar on the coming Saturday. The current league leaders have scored the joint-most goals (28) in the ISL this season. The Juggernauts are unbeaten in the competition since October and the Mariners haven’t faced defeat here since Antonio Lopez Habas replaced Juan Ferrando either.

With a 22% shot conversion and 51.2% shot accuracy, the Sergio Lobera-coached side finds their biggest strength in its striking department spearheaded by Roy Krishna and Diego Mauricio. They have the best record at home so far, earning 20 points from eight games, whereas the Mariners have the most formidable away record, having garnered 15 points from six games on the road.

The Mariners have won the most points from losing situations (11) in the league thus far, and the Juggernauts are not too far behind (8) in this respect either. Roy Krishna leads the charts with the most goal contributions (12) until now. There is little to separate the two sides in all concerned metrics, which shows that they will fight tooth and nail to not even cede an inch in the contest.

Southern rivals sort out their situations

After winning 26 points from their first 12 games, Kerala Blasters FC has lost thrice consecutively since the league resumed, with a host of injury issues hurting their cause. Last season, the team had secured 25 points from their opening 12 encounters, but could win only six in the last eight matches, leading to them falling out of the race for the League Winners Shield. They will want to arrest this collapse when they meet FC Goa on February 25.

Contrastingly, Bengaluru FC has arguably not had the kind of resurgence they would have expected with the arrival of a new head coach and some statement signings in January. They face Hyderabad FC on Saturday, with the two teams having scored the least goals in the league. The Blues have found the back of the net 15 times this season, scoring five times in their last six matches, whereas Hyderabad FC has netted on only five occasions in the ISL. Are we set to witness a low-scoring draw?

However, form is favouring the duo of Chennaiyin FC and Mumbai City FC, with both sides having secured victories in their respective last matches. Their clash on February 23 carries significance for both teams, with the Islanders taking a shot at the top spot with a possible win, whereas the Marina Machans continue to challenge Jamshedpur FC for a place in the playoffs.

Team of the Week – Matchweek 15

Goalkeeper: TP Rehenesh (Jamshedpur FC)

Defenders: Sandeep Singh (Kerala Blasters FC), Ryan Edwards (Chennaiyin FC), Hector Yuste (Mohun Bagan Super Giant), Aakash Sangwan (Chennaiyin FC)

Midfielders: Jonu Kauko (Mohun Bagan Super Giant), Jeremy Manzorro (Jamshedpur FC), Iker Guarrotxena (Mumbai City FC), Mohammed Sanan (Jamshedpur FC)

Forwards: Vikram Pratap Singh (Mumbai City FC), Jason Cummings (Mohun Bagan Super Giant)

ISL Fantasy

Matchweek 15 round up

Matchweek winner: Aadi Mahto

Score: 100

Avg points: 40

Top 5 point scorers

Jeremy Manzorro(JFC)- 16 pts

TP Rehenesh (JFC)- 13 pts

Vikram Singh (MCFC)- 12 pts

Joni Kauko (MBSG)- 12 pts

Wilmar Jordan (PFC)- 12 pts

Ones to watch

Carlos Martinez (FCG)

Nishu Kumar (EBFC)

Vikram Singh (MCFC)

Diego Mauricio (OFC)

Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.

Also Read: Mumbai City FC bridges gap in top of the table race after comfortable win against Bengaluru FC

Also Read: Maharashtra squad for Santosh Trophy 2024 announced

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