7 Talking Points from the opening weekend of ISL 2017

We have now seen eight of the ten sides competing in this season’s Indian Super League, so what have been the key Talking Points from the four matches played so far?

#1 FC Goa show the first real sign of attacking intent

Sergio Lobera was a happy man following FC Goa’s 3-2 win over Chennaiyin FC. We predicted here that Lobera’s side will have goals in it with Manuel Lanzarote and the Spanish striker did not let us down, scoring a beautifully taken second.

“The first half that we had today was exactly what we wanted and worked for. We did well in the first half and took our chances. We played our best football in the first period,” Lobera said.

That was probably stating the obvious as FC Goa took their foot off the gas in the second period, allowing John Gregory’s Chennaiyin to believe they could get something out of the game.

Admittedly, it is very early days but if Goa continue to attack in the same vein and defend as we saw in the second half then they could be one of the more entertaining sides to watch this season.

#2 John Gregory is nothing but honest

The 64-year-old Englishman took full responsibility for Chennaiyin’s first-half display which saw them trail 3-0 at the break.

“I think I started with the wrong team and the wrong formation. I accept responsibility for that. I felt it exposed our team to Goa too soon, I felt it was the wrong shape with the midfield,” said Gregory in his post-match interview.

Gregory also put the first half showing down to “nerves” but will take heart from his side’s comeback in the second half, where they could have snatched a draw.

#3 It’s not just the foreigners who can score

Mandar Rao Desai of FC Goa became the first Indian goalscorer in the ISL 2017 as he slotted home the third goal of the opening half in Chennai. Desai is aiming to break into Stephen Constantine’s Indian squad this season, and he finishes his chances as well as he did at the weekend then he will certainly be on the national team coach’s mind.

#4 Steve Coppell is not one for changing

We are not talking tactics, but the former Manchester United and England winger does love casually leaning against the side of his dugout. Coppell barely moved from this position throughout Jamshedpur’s ISL debut, a 0-0 draw with NorthEast United.

#5 Goalkeepers will be under the spotlight

Friday night kicked off with Kerala’s Paul Rachubka putting in a fine display against ATK. However, Laxmikant Kattimani did not have such a good time on Sunday as he was the catalyst for Chennaiyin getting back into their match with FC Goa. The goalkeeper made an error in letting Inigo Calderon score from a soft free-kick and then gave away the penalty which saw Chennaiyin get to within a goal of a stunning comeback. His manager, Sergio Lobera, immediately defended Kattimani after the game, claiming “he is the best goalkeeper in the ISL”. Not on that performance he is not, Sergio.

#6 Bengaluru look ready to dominate

The most impressive performance of the weekend came from Bengaluru, led by Indian legend Sunil Chhetri who scored his 50th, and wonderfully deserved considering the performance he put in, goal in their 2-0 win over Mumbai City FC. Having been incorrectly booked for diving, Chhetri continued to pull the strings in the Bengaluru FC attack as they put in a very balanced display. Mumbai City are going to be difficult to break down this season, and this opening performance lays down a marker to the other ISL hopefuls.

#7 Mumbai City will need to attack with the same aggression as they defend

The first half was notable for two main incidents which could define Mumbai’s ISL season already – Marcio Rosario left an elbow to his opponent’s throat early on and then his fellow Brazilian Gerson virtually assaulted the man he was marking. Mumbai City looked powerful and aggressive in their defence, but if they want to have any hope of making the end-of-season playoffs then they will need to find a way of attacking – be it with finesse or more brute force.

About the Author

Chris Darwen
Editor-in-Chief for Ronnie Dog Media