This is where it gets busy!
Matchday 17, and there is no margin for error from this point in the Indian Super League. As ATK continue to dominate the chart, the race to acquire the final playoff spot is expected to go right to the final game week. As things stand, only four points separate the fourth-placed Mumbai City FC to fifth-placed Chennaiyin FC, with the latter still having a game in hand.
As for the top half, the likes of ATK and FC Goa have 33 points each, while defending champions Bengaluru FC sit third with 28 points and a game in hand.
ATK vs Chennaiyin FC:
Since Owen Coyle took over Chennaiyin FC in December, the two-time ISL champions have scored 18 goals in only seven outings which more than any other team during the tenure. They have not only won games at will of late, but have also scored at least two goals in last five outings.
For ATK, the upsurge in form of Roy Krishna, who was without a goal for as many as five games prior to the Jamshedpur victory, has strengthened their position on the top of the table. As far as goals are concerned, the rate is indeed slower than Chennaiyin’s, but the fact remains that they have netted at least twice in four of their last six outings.
Watch out for:
Nerijus Valskis: While ATK’s Roy Krishna has managed to wreak havoc this season, a certain Nerijus Valskis has defied odds in the best way possible. With 12 goals in 15 league outings, the 32-year-old is in red-hot form, scoring seven goals in his last five outings, and is only one goal behind ATK’s talisman, who sit on the top of the goalscoring charts. The Lithuanian, who also has four assists to his name, scores 0.8 goals per game, and a figure like this is enough for his opposition to stay on the top of their game.
An opportunity for Inter in Serie A
A defeat for Juventus against Hellas Verona gave Inter a fabulous opportunity of getting back on top and they took this opportunity to perfection by defeating their inter-city rivals, Milan 4-2 on Sunday. Up next for them though lies a stiff challenge from Lazio, who are unbeaten in their last 18 league outings. Their last league defeat came against Inter itself when Danilo D’Ambrosio’s only goal made all the difference at San Siro in September last year. The Biancocelesti, in fact, are on a 12-game unbeaten streak at home and funnily enough, it were Inter – again - who last defeated them at their own turf, with Mauro Icardi helping his side to a thumping 3-0 win.
As for Inter, they carry a unique record of their own; currently unbeaten for 11 away league games, and scoring at least a goal in all of those outings.
Watch out for:
Ciro Immobile: 25 goals and six assists in 1922 Serie A minutes means the league’s top-scorer – Ciro Immobile – averages a goal in every 77 minutes. The 29-year-old, who averages four shots on goal per game, has scored nine goals and an assist in his nine eight outings in all competitions and expect more of a same when he squares off against an Inter defence, who has only two clean sheets in their last seven outings.
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Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndSuperLeague