The Indian Super League 2020-21 season enters its penultimate week of operations in the group stage. Table-toppers ATK Mohun Bagan enjoys a five-point lead over second-placed Mumbai City FC, and despite having already qualified for the playoffs, both teams will be eager to wrap up their final games on a high.
The three-legged race for the third and fourth spots between Hyderabad FC, FC Goa, and NorthEast United - all tied at 27 points - will have a different tale to be told after their respective matchups in matchweek 21.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming fixtures:
Bengaluru FC vs FC Goa
Bengaluru FC, currently five points behind fourth-placed FC Goa, will lock horns with the Gaurs in a must-win game that will decide the fate of their 2020-21 campaign. The Blues have made it into the playoffs stage in each of their last three campaigns, and while they have salvaged an error-ridden season so far, Sunil Chhetri and Co. have kept their faint qualifications hopes alive with a morale-boosting 4-2 win over Mumbai City FC. On the other hand, FC Goa are unbeaten in 11 games and favorites to win the fixture.
In the Bengaluru FC vs FC Goa head-to-head record, the Blues have won five of their eight previous meetings. Given the current scenario, these numbers will be a psychological boost against a team known to turn around any contest in their favor in the second half.
|KBFC vs CFC goal-conceding comparison (by half)|
|Goals scored||First half||Second half||Total|
When one has to talk about a goal-scoring comparison by half, it is as clear as water that Goa have been nothing but ruthless. The Gaurs have scored 17 of their 29 goals in the second half and have collected 12 points from games where they have conceded first. On the other hand, Bengaluru have netted 13 times after the restart, with six goals coming within 45-60 minutes.
Cleiton Silva and Sunil Chhetri, with seven goals each, will shoulder the responsibility to open the scoring in the fixture. Simultaneously, Goa’s Igor Angulo seeks to wreak havoc upon the Blues and consolidate his 12 goal-tally from 17 games.
Kerala Blasters vs Chennaiyin FC
The latest edition of the Southern derby between Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin FC may have nothing at stake to battle for, but either team will be eager to claim victory in the last ‘big’ game of their ISL campaigns.
In the KBFC vs CFC head-to-head record, the Marina Machans enjoy supreme status with six wins in 15 games. In fact, the southern powerhouses of Indian football have played out six draws, with their recent meeting ending in a goalless stalemate.
|KBFC vs CFC goal-conceding comparison (by half)|
|Goals conceded||First half||Second half||Total|
Defensively, Kerala has been the worst in the Indian Super League, and their numbers for the current campaign indicate yet another fall from grace. Interim coach Ishfaq Ahmed’s men have leaked a whopping 22 goals in the second half and will need to be on alert against Chennaiyin, who themselves have been without a win in their last eight league games.
Hyderabad FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan
League leaders ATK Mohun Bagan take on Hyderabad FC at the Tilak Maidan, with the former needing a win to win the League Winners' Shield and secure a place in the 2022 AFC Champions League.
The Mariners, with 39 points from 18 matches and a five-match winning streak in the balance, were held to a 1-1 draw in their latest meeting this season. On the flip side, Hyderabad are unbeaten in 2021 and aims to preserve the record as they chase a playoff spot.
|HFC vs ATKMB goal-scoring comparison (in minutes)|
Riding on Roy Krishna’s prolific scoring instincts, ATKMB have found the net 10 times in the final 15 minutes of an ISL fixture. However, with Manuel Marquez’s side conceding just three goals in the last five games, the odds of victory in the meeting are not one-sided.
East Bengal SC vs NorthEast United
Fifth-placed NorthEast United are one of the contenders for the remaining two spots in the ISL playoffs, take on an SC East Bengal team with one win in their previous five games.
Goals by Surchandra Singh and Rochharzela sealed a 2-0 win for the Highlanders in the only meeting between the clubs in December. Since then, Robbie Fowler’s unit have secured just two wins in 15 league outings.
|SCEB vs NEUFC goal-conceding comparison (in minutes)|
The biggest drawback of East Bengal is their inability to prevent late goals, as they have leaked eight goals in the final 15 minutes of an ISL fixture. Head coach Fowler has lamented his players’ inconsistency on the field, and it worsened further in their 1-3 ‘Kolkata derby’ loss to ATK Mohun Bagan on Friday.
NorthEast’s Deshorn Brown, with four goals in five matches, is favored to open the scoring against East Bengal, while the hosts, who have averaged one goal in their last ten games, will pin their hopes on Matti Steinmann to be a game-changer.
Odisha FC vs Mumbai City FC
The final match of the Indian Super League’s matchweek 21 schedule will witness second-placed Mumbai City FC face bottom-placed Odisha FC. Having qualified for the playoffs, Sergio Lobera’s men will use the tie as a potential warm-up for their mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash against ATK Mohun Bagan next week.
When it comes to the OFC vs MCFC head-to-head record, the Kalinga Warriors command ascendancy. But, the form guide of the Cityzens calls for a confident victory at the GMC Stadium.
|OFC vs MCFC head-to-head record|
Mumbai’s goal output has been prolific this season, scoring the joint-second most goals (27 along with NorthEast United) and conceding just 17 goals. Adam le Fondre, on loan from Sydney FC, has been the chief outlet of goals for the team with 11 goals in 18 matches. Considering his sense of scoring, one can simply believe the English attacker to help his side secure a well-deserved win for Mumbai.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / atkmohunbaganfc