ISL 2020-21: Which team can make it to the playoffs
We are just a mere three matchweeks away from reaching the Indian Super League 2020-21 playoffs, and the race for the final two spots couldn't get any fierce than this. Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan are the only teams so far to make their way to the playoffs, with only a point separating the Islanders from the Kolkata giants in the ISL points table. The battle for the remaining places, however, is expected to go down the wire, given that the difference in points between third-placed Hyderabad FC and seventh-placed Bengaluru FC is a mere five points.
With that being said, here we look at the permutations to look at which team can qualify for the ISL 2020-21 playoffs.
Mumbai City FC (Matches - 16, Points - 34)
As mentioned, Mumbai City FC have already made their way into the playoffs with four games still to play. The Islanders face Bengaluru FC, Jamshedpur FC, Odisha FC, ATK Mohun Bagan in their remaining fixtures, meaning that despite qualifying for the ISL playoffs, they can still miss out on the top-place finish and the subsequent qualification for AFC Champions League.
ATK Mohun Bagan (Matches -16, Points - 33)
Hyderabad FC dropping points against SC East Bengal on Friday, February 12, confirmed ATK Mohun Bagan's place in the playoffs because only one from Hyderabad or Goa can equal ATK Mohun Bagan's tally of 33 points. Note that if Hyderabad, Goa and NorthEast United end up tied on points, the points won in the matches between the three teams will be taken into account to determine the qualifying teams.
Hyderabad FC (Matches - 17, Points - 24)
Hyderabad FC are in a difficult situation right now given that they still have ATK Mohun Bagan and FC Goa to play after Kerala Blasters. A draw against East Bengal means they now have to win all of their remaining games to book a place in the playoffs. In case they only manage to reach 30 points, there are high chances that NorthEast and FC Goa will leapfrog the Nizams and knock them out of the race. Anything less than that would give the bottom teams a chance to enter the fray.
FC Goa (Matches - 16, Points - 23)
FC Goa's situation is as similar as Hyderabad. The Gaurs need to win all of their remaining games in order to make it to the playoffs. Anything less than that would give Hyderabad and NorthEast United an opportunity to have a go. Goa's chances of qualifying for the playoffs might go down to their final league stage game, which is against Hyderabad FC.
NorthEast United (Matches - 16, Points - 23)
NorthEast United have the easiest of runs compared to their playoffs rivals as they face bottom-placed teams Odisha FC, Chennaiyin FC, East Bengal and Kerala Blasters in their final four games. Given that Hyderabad and Goa face each other in the final league stage game, the Highlanders need to win all of their remaining fixtures to make their way into the knockouts. Anything fewer than three victories will, however, bring the bottom teams into the contention.
Jamshedpur FC (Matches - 17, Points - 21)
The run-in for Jamshedpur FC is as difficult as anything given that they face ATK Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City and Bengaluru FC next. For them to qualify for the playoffs, they not only have to win all of their games but will also have to rely on two of either Goa, Hyderabad and NorthEast to accumulate no more than six points from their final games.
Bengaluru FC (Matches - 17, Points - 19)
In order to qualify for the playoffs, Bengaluru FC not only have to beat Mumbai, Goa and Jamshedpur but will also have to depend on Goa, Hyderabad and NorthEast to not to get more than four points from their final games. Apart from that, they also need Chennaiyin and East Bengal to drop at least one point from their run-ins. Considering that they manage to beat Mumbai and Goa and the other results go in their favour, their final game against Jamshedpur FC will eventually be the final showdown for the fourth spot.
Chennaiyin FC (Matches - 17, points - 17)
Like Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin have to win all of their remaining games, which are against Goa, NorthEast United and Kerala Blasters, and subsequently hope that two out of Goa, Hyderabad and NorthEast don't get more than three points. But that's not it. They also need Jamshedpur and Bengaluru to drop four and three points, respectively.
SC East Bengal (Matches - 17, Points - 17)
East Bengal's situation is as similar as Chennaiyin's as they need to win all of their remaining fixtures, while also hoping that two out of Goa, Hyderabad and NorthEast don't get more than four points. Apart from that though, they also need both Jamshedpur and Bengaluru to draw one and lose one. Chennaiyin must drop points in their remaining matches too.
Kerala Blasters (Matches - 17, Points - 16)
Apart from winning all of their remaining games of the league stages, Kerala Blasters need Jamshedpur, BFC, Chennaiyin and East Bengal to drop five, two, two and three points, respectively. But that's definitely not it. They also need two out of Goa, Hyderabad and NorthEast not to accumulate more than two points in their remaining games.
Odisha FC (Matches - 16, Points - 9)
Odisha FC are out of the playoffs race altogether. They are yet to play NorthEast, Goa, Mumbai and East Bengal, and the maximum points they can reach this season is 21.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @ISL