With the finishing line in sight, its make-or-break clashes with league title and playoffs hopes hanging in balance

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 steps into its final Matchweek 22 with the clash between East Bengal FC and Punjab FC tonight. With six games still to go, there are five teams still in fray to get their desired outcomes. There are three different situations at play here. Mumbai City FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant are contesting for the coveted top spot that will make them the ISL 2023-24 League Winners.


While FC Goa is out of the League Shield, they are sniffing a potential second spot in the standings, which gets them an extra perk guaranteeing a direct berth in the semi-final instead of battle it out through the knockout stage. For the sixth spot, there are two contenders, i.e. Chennaiyin FC and East Bengal FC, with NorthEast United FC out of the race now after their loss to the Marina Machans last night.

Here is how the three situations are supposed to pan out for each of the five aforementioned teams.

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Who will be the ISL 2023-24 League Winners?

Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC has been flawless lately, having won all of their last five games to stand at 47 points from 21 games. The showdown for the ISL League is likely to go down the wire, with the clash between Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Mumbai City FC on April 15. But, that is subject to Mohun Bagan Super Giant not dropping points against Bengaluru FC.

Football fans will be hoping for a face-off for the League Shield between two of the strongest teams this season. Last time the two teams squared off at the Salt Lake Stadium in 2022-23, a winner by Lallianzuala Chhangte had helped the Islanders clinch the three points. Chhangte seems to be regaining that mojo, having scored and assisted once each in Mumbai City FC’s recent 2-1 win over Odisha FC. Will he be the point of difference again on Monday?

Mohun Bagan Super Giant

Prior to the match against Mumbai City FC, Mohun Bagan Super Giant have the April 11 fixture against Bengaluru FC to take care of. At 42 points now, anything less than a win will mean that they wouldn’t be able to catch up with the Islanders (47). In such a case, they will resort to consolidating the second spot against FC Goa (42).

Both the Mariners and Gaurs have won once each in their two fixtures so far, if it comes to their head-to-head record. Nevertheless, the margin of victory of FC Goa (4-1) was bigger than that of Mohun Bagan Super Giant (1-0). The loss to Chennaiyin FC came as a jolt for the Mariners, but they will be backing themselves to beat the Blues, given that they had earlier overcome them by 1-0 when the two sides met in September too.

FC Goa hopes to be the best of the rest

A late winner by Borja Herrera during their last match ensured that the Gaurs can continue to hope to finish second and make it straight to the semi-finals. With four wins in last five games, they have recovered from the slight slump they encountered in the second half of the season.

Their next fixture against Chennaiyin FC is a must-win for them if they want to finish second. The Gaurs had rolled over the Marina Machans by 3-0 in their previous face-off in October, but given that Chennaiyin FC have won thrice in a row, it promises to be a cracker of a contest at the Fatorda Stadium with lots to play for both teams in question. 

The Race for 6th Spot.jpg

Former ISL champion coaches clash for 6th spot

Chennaiyin FC

With 27 points from 21 games, Chennaiyin FC need at least a win in their coming match against FC Goa to fend off any competition from East Bengal FC. A draw will all but secure the Marina Machans the sixth playoffs spot, with East Bengal FC at 24 points being potentially unable to match that even if they win their last game against Punjab FC.

The Red & Gold Brigade have held the upper hand in their two meetings with the Marina Machans. Their first fixture resulted in a 1-1 draw, whereas the second was a 1-0 win in the favour of East Bengal FC. Thus, Owen Coyle wouldn’t want to end the league stages level on points, thus pushing for a draw at the very least against FC Goa, who will be desperate for a win.

East Bengal FC

Anything less than a win against Punjab FC tonight will ensure that East Bengal FC will be out of the race for the playoffs, thus making Chennaiyin FC the sixth team to qualify. If they want to sustain the pressure, Cuadrat will have to go for the win, and then hope that FC Goa get the better of Chennaiyin FC on Sunday. The equation is fairly straightforward for them, but they will have to be wary of a Punjab FC unit that has nothing to lose and can emerge as the giant killers to cap off their maiden ISL season.

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