With the battle for the top four intensifying with every passing week, the Indian Super League is looking at an entertaining few closing weeks of the league stages before the playoffs begin.
With ISL matchweek 18 seeing some of the top teams taking on each other, the points table is expected to see some significant changes that might alter the title race in the top half of the table.
Here are the numbers to help you navigate through the tumultuous matchweek.
Hyderabad FC vs NorthEast United FC
The fact that Indian fans are more excited about the HFC vs NEUFC clash in a matchweek that has many other big encounters lined up, speaks volume of what the two teams have achieved this season. Sitting fourth and fifth on a joint 22 points, both Hyderabad and NorthEast are very much in the top four race with half the budget of Mumbai and ATKMB.
While the Highlanders have had a bumpy ride with a mid-season managerial change, the Nizams have surprised all with their tremendous consistency despite having little star power on their side. And their tenacious playing style, which is akin to that of Khalid Jamil's NEUFC, make this clash more enticing.
A relatively new team to ISL, HFC have played NEUFC just thrice so far, winning on two occasions. HFC trail Goa by just one in goal tally and quite interestingly, the season has seen their intensity go up in the second 45 minutes. Hence, Sunday's clash is expected to see the match liven up in the second half.
|Goals Scored||First Half||Second Half||Total|
|NorthEast United FC||11||10||21|
While NEUFC have been the team with momentum, having won three of their last five matches, their lack of a proper centre-forward could tip the balance in Hyderabad's favour.
Mumbai City FC vs FC Goa
Before the City Football Group took over Mumbai City FC and extracted the best from FC Goa, MCFC vs FCG was a high-intensity clash with contrasting philosophies, making it an exciting face-off. Now, league leaders MCFC come into the clash as the downright favourites with little chance of an upset.
FC Goa have dominated the head-to-head with Mumbai 7-5 in ISL so far, before the likes of Mourtada Fall, Hugo Boumous and Ahmed Jahouh traded shirts with their rivals. Though Juan Ferrando's side has kept their goal-scoring prowess intact, trailing MCFC (21 goals) by just one goal in the tally, Goa have been victims of inconsistency.
Interestingly, Goa have remained unbeaten in their last five matches, unlike Mumbai. But, while Goa have lost just thrice so far, which is the joint lowest with ATKMB, HFC and NEUFC, Sergio Lobera's men know how to churn out a win from the unlikeliest of situations.
|Last 5 Matches Scoreline (Oldest to Newest)|
|Mumbai City||FC Goa|
|0-0 (D)||3-0 (W)|
Bengaluru FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan
For a struggling Bengaluru FC side, the opponent cannot get any tougher than ATK Mohun Bagan. The Mariners have been almost impenetrable at the back and BFC's dried up firepower upfront will be a cause of worry.
Although both Bengaluru and ATKMB have lost just once in their last five matches, ATKMB have won three of the remaining while Bengaluru have managed to get the three points just once.
Regardless of the form this season, where ATKMB clearly are the more dominant side, Bengaluru have struggled to find their footing against ATKMB in recent times as well. In the last five times that these two have faced, ATKMB have won thrice and drawn once.
|Head-to-Head (Last 5 Matches)|
|Bengaluru FC||Metrics||ATK Mohun Bagan|
Chennaiyin FC vs Jamshedpur FC
While the mid-table clash between Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC might not see major upheaval in the points table, the past between the two sides warrants solid entertainment. After manager Owen Coyle and his star striker Nerijus Valskis changed sides last summer, CFC vs JFC have given birth to a new rivalry in ISL.
Both the sides have struggled to find form this season and are unlikely to be a top-four contender. While Jamshedpur FC have won once and lost twice in their last five matches, Chennaiyin have drawn thrice and lost twice.
Interestingly, Jamshedpur and Chennaiyin's progressions this season have been quite similar. Not only are they separated by just one point in the ISL points table, but JFC also edge out CFC by just one in the number of goals conceded.
Hence, it is difficult to predict the favourite in this clash.
Odisha FC vs Kerala Blasters FC
Odisha FC have been underwhelming this ISL season so far, losing nine of their 15 matches and winning just once. And although Kerala Blasters are just two spots above them in the points table, they have shown stability as the season has progressed.
Quite interestingly, the Juggernauts have finished above Kerala Blasters twice since entering ISL in the 2017-18 season and edge the Tuskers 1-0 in head-to-head. Hence, despite the run of form for Kibu Vicuna's men, they could be the team to give Odisha the much-needed confidence.
Playing from the back, both Kerala and Odisha have leaked goals this season. While the Tuskers have conceded 27 goals so far this season, the Kalinga Warriors have let in 25 goals. But, despite Odisha's superior numbers against Kerala, their run of form suggests that Kerala will be the favourites to win the match.
|Last 5 Matches Results (Oldest to Newest)|
|Odisha FC||Kerala Blasters FC|
|1-2 (L)||2-1 (W)|
|1-1 (D)||1-1 (D)|
|1-1 (D)||0-0 (D)|
|0-1 (L)||3-2 (L)|
Feature Image Courtesy: Website/ ISL