The final gameweek of the league stage of the Indian Super League (ISL) season was replete with goals, drama and intense action. It saw Chennaiyin FC seal their semifinal spot, something that was beyond the wildest dreams of their most dire fans a couple of months back. There were some highly entertaining games played out. The ones that stood out were Hyderabad FC trouncing Northeast United FC 5-1 and the 8-goal thrilling draw between Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters FC.
Mumbai City FC— which till last week had the chance to qualify for the playoffs — suffered the worst outcome this week, as a 1-0 loss at home to Chennaiyin saw them surrender their playoff spot to the Machans. FC Goa sealed their league victory with a thumping 5-0 win away to Jamshedpur FC while the Northeast United FC and Chennaiyin played out a 2-2 draw in the last game of the season to determine the playoff fixtures among the top 4.
Takeaways from Gameweek 13:
- Chennaiyin FC: A story for the ages
From being ridiculed and laughed off in November to winning the playoff spot, the two-time champions have been the toast of the ISL this season. Buoyed by the presence of Owen Coyle, the Machans are one of the dark horses in the playoffs and will give FC Goa a tough fight for a place in the final when the two sides meet in the playoffs.
They look impenetrable in defence and unplayable upfront. Having netted 26 goals in their last 11 games led by the irresistible forward Valskis. A third title looks possible for them given their current form and it would take a lot of effort from Goa to stop them.
- Hyderabad and Odisha FC have had much to learn this season
Hyderabad FC may have finished at the bottom of the league in their debut season, having sacked their manager midway but they have several positives to take away from the season. The appointment of Albert Roca, who took Bengaluru FC to the 2016 AFC Cup final along with a strong transfer window will do wonders for them. They have already signed Souvik Chakraborty and Halicharan Narzary, both big names from Mumbai City FC and Kerala Blasters respectively and will no doubt have several more targets going ahead.
For Odisha FC, it was an ill-timed injury to several key players including Aridane Santana and Vinit Rai that derailed their playoff chances. There is no doubt that the team will be buoyed by their performance and look to better their output next time around.
- Bengaluru FC need to get the best out of Udanta and Ashique
Sunil Chhetri has once again led the goalscoring for Bengaluru FC but his compatriots will need to step up and deliver in the playoffs. Both Udanta and Ashique, two talented youngsters have flattered to deceive thoughout the season and Carles Cuadrat will have to figure out how to extract the best out of them at any cost before they take on high-flying ATK in the playoffs.
Some key stats from Gameweek 13:
Matches Played: 90
Goals Scored: 274
Average goals per game: 3.0
Most goals: 15 – Bartholomew Ogbeche( Kerala Blasters)
Most assists: 10 — Hugo Boumous( FC Goa)
Chennaiyin FC v FC Goa ( 29 February and 7 March)
ATK v Bengaluru FC ( 1 March and 8 March)
Final: 14 March.
All matches to kick-off from 7:30 pm IST.