This edition of the Indian Super League was one of a kind as this season witnessed the most number of teams participate in the league and hence, the most number of games played. This season also saw at least four teams fight for the last two playoff spots and ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC involved in their own fight to cement the top spot and AFC Champions League group stage qualification. The seventh edition of the ISL has been so competitive that on the last day of the group stages two things will be confirmed. Firstly, who will become the ISL shield winner and secondly, who will be the last team to qualify for the playoffs.
RACE FOR TOP 4: FC GOA vs HYDERABAD FC
FC Goa and Hyderabad FC will kick-off the proceedings as they face each other at the Fatorda Stadium in the first match of the day and those 90 odd minutes will decide the fate of both clubs who have stayed in the reckoning all season.
HOW CAN FC GOA QUALIFY?
The Gaurs are in the pole position to finish in the top four as they need just a point to qualify for the playoffs. Juan Ferrando’s team have had a mixed-bag season of sorts. They have been one of the most feared sides in the competition and their habit of scoring late in games have grabbed crucial points. Right now, they are on a 12-match unbeaten streak, however, if you dig deep, they have drawn seven of those 12 games. Fortunately for them, even a draw would confirm their berth in the knockout stages. A draw would take them to 31 points and leave Hyderabad with 29.
HOW CAN HYDERABAD FC QUALIFY?
Hyderabad FC has been one of the surprise packages of this season. After finishing second from bottom last year, the Nizams have taken huge strides and they have played some eye-catching football under Manolo Marquez. Now in the do or die match, they’ll have to address the only concern they had throughout the season, failing to convert draws into victories. Akash Mishra and co. need a win to qualify. With 28 points in their tally, they need the three points to topple FC Goa who have 30 points in their bag.
FIGHT FOR ISL SHIELD: MUMBAI CITY FC VS ATK MOHUN BAGAN
The battle between Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan has been one of the highlights of this season. Both these teams were for the most part of the time in a different league than others. These two teams are the only teams to have won more than 50% of their games. Now, they will battle it out between themselves to determine who has the last laugh.
HOW CAN MUMBAI CITY FC WIN THE SHIELD?
After leading the league table for the most part of the season, winning 12 games in a row, they lost to NorthEast United FC and since then they have won just two games, drew one and lost two. This gave ATK Mohun Bagan the opportunity to catch them in the points table. Now, the Islanders head into the final game of the season with 37 points, which is three less than top-placed ATKMB. So, nothing less than a win would do for Sergio Lobera’s men to claim the ISL Shield. If they win, they’ll be level on points with ATKMB and they will win the Shield as according to the ISL rules, ‘if two or more Clubs are equal on points then their place shall be determined by the Most number of points obtained in the league matches between the clubs concerned’. MCFC won the previous leg 1-0. However, it won’t be an easy task as ATK Mohun Bagan are unbeaten in their last six matches and have netted 15 goals and conceded just six during this run.
HOW CAN ATK MOHUN BAGAN WIN THE SHIELD?
Well, it is rather simple for Antonio Habas’ men, all they have to do is avoid a defeat in the last game of the ISL group stages. If ATKMB manage to do that, they would also record the highest points tally in the ISL league phase.