Football leagues around the world have distinguished styles of play that define their character and give them an individualistic identity.
World's most followed league, the English Premier League, is known for its speed, attacking approach and physicality while Spain's La Liga is worth watching for excellent player movement and exemplary ball control displayed by some of the best in the business. Italy's Serie A is regarded as one of the best leagues to exhibit defensive tactics.
In this regard, the two-year-old Indian Super League (ISL), has a lot of ground to cover before it can establish its unique identity. However, having said that, the ISL has quickly climbed the ladder to be ranked among the world's most popular leagues.
That's a massive achievement for a league in only its second season. The season so far has covered 38 matches with the fans witnessing some breathtaking performances, both individual and team-wise, and a few heated moments in week six. Let’s take a look at how the players and teams fared in the week gone by.
FC Goa retain top spot
FC Goa entered the week on top spot and have successfully retained it throughout. However, FC Pune City, who are at the second spot with same points and goal difference, are close on Goa’s heels and can leapfrog them if Zico's team fails to win against Mumbai City FC on Tuesday.
FC Goa have 15 points from nine matches and will need a win against Mumbai to calm nerves as the league enters its most crucial stage. Goa have the same number of points as FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos, but while Delhi have an inferior goal average, Pune have played an additional match.
Defending champions Atletico de Kolkata are occupying the 4th spot with 14 points, followed by NorthEast United (13), Mumbai City FC (12), Kerala Blasters FC (11) and Chennaiyin FC (10).
Why Anelka is angry?
Mumbai City FC’s marquee-player-cum-manager, Nicolas Anelka, is known for his short temper, and the team’s performance in the past seven days didn’t make him happy. The former France international said he was not satisfied with the team after it played a goalless draw against FC Pune City.
"I am not happy with the team's performance. We should have won the match. It is part of the game. Now we have to put up a better show against FC Goa in our next match," Anelka said.
Post the result, Mumbai maintained their sixth spot on the leader board with 12 points from nine games, having won three, drawn three and lost three.
Carlos, Valdo open up old wounds
Delhi Dynamos' marquee-player-cum-coach Roberto Carlos was involved in a post-match scuffle with Atletico de Kolkata midfielder Valdo in Delhi's home game on Saturday.
Carlos entered the ground after witnessing his team play a 1-1 draw to shake hands with the opposition players but met with a rude shove from ATK midfielder Valmiro Lopes Rocha, popularly known as Valdo.
Carlos was reportedly taken aback at the behaviour and sudden burst of anger. But he kept his composure to avoid any confrontation and walked away from the situation.
However, the incident has its roots in a Real Madrid vs Osasuna match when the two players enjoyed their most successful days as footballers.
Valdo rose through the ranks at Real Madrid and was even part of the Spanish club's senior team for a year in 2002-03, becoming Carlos' teammate. He was then loaned to Osasuna in the following year.
When asked about the incident, Carlos said: "I know him for a very long time. He was with me at Real Madrid. He developed with me there. The scuffle was because of an incident that happened between us 12 years ago."
"He was with Osasuna at that time and we were involved in an incident in a match. I have apologised to him about it. But he still remembers it. But I don't have any hard feelings for him. He is a great guy and a good friend. I wish him well," the Brazilian said.
English striker Chris Dagnall on Sunday scored the fastest goal in the history of ISL and led his team Kerala Blasters to a resounding 4-1 win over NorthEast United.
Dagnall, who has been good in patches this season, hit the back of the net in the 29th second, only to better the record of teammate Mohammed Rafi, who scored in the 48th second in Blasters' match against FC Pune City a few weeks ago.
Kerala's hopes alive
Kerala Blasters' win against NorthEast United has kept the Sachin Tendulkar-owned team in the hunt for a place in the play-offs. Kerala, who were at the bottom of the eight-team league table before Sunday's match, jumped one place to seventh by virtue of the 4-1 win with 11 points to their kitty from 10 matches while Northeast remained on fifth with 13 points from 10 games. The win was also Kerala's first in four away matches.
The Highlanders' rise
After losing the opening three games, football pundits ruled NorthEast United FC out of contention for a top-four spot. However, the Cesar Farias-led side has put together an impressive run of late, racking up some vital points on the road. The recent performances set things up nicely for the Highlander's last five games, out of which four will be played at home. The return of marquee man Simao Sabrosa from injury has also proved to be a galvanizing point for the NorthEast. However, with the fight for the top-four extremely tight and competitive, the Highlanders will need to be consistent if it were to seal a top-four spot.