So the third round of matches have been completed in this year’s ISL, four matches for two of the teams.
What have we learned off the back of the last few days?
#1 Berbatov is starting to come to life
The thing with Berbatov is that he moves as much now in his mid-to-late 30’s as he did when he was in his early 20’s. This is about as much energy as you were ever going to get from the Bulgarian legend, and that is OK. Rene Meulensteen is happy for Berba to drop as deep as he wants as long as he gets on the ball and does something. The curious call was for Kerala to start Sifneos ahead of Iain Hume last night, but the decision paid off with the Dutch targetman scoring the opening goal. How did the move start? With a subtle pass fro Berba to the overlapping fullback whose cross was turned home. Get Berbatov on the ball as much as possible and, gradually, good things will start to happen for the Blasters.
#2 It is still impossible to call
Those that were suggesting, and yes I am probably a bit guilty too, that Bengaluru FC would end up running away with this season’s ISL are already looking a little foolish. FC Goa finished on the positive side of the seven-goal thriller on Saturday meaning they join FC Pune City, Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru as joint leaders on six points. And don’t forget how bad Chennaiyin were in their opening 45 minutes! 3 or 4 matches does sound like very early days in a competition but there are only 18 games in the ISL. 4 points seperate top from bottom, so if ATK can sort themselves out in the next match they could quickly be back in the mix. If nothing else, it is enjoyable heading into any ISL match not being completely confident of the outcome.
#3 Are Dehli in freefall?
OK, this might sound like it is contradicting the point above, but are Dehli in freefall? They were superb in their opening victory but since then have suffered defeats to NorthEast United (0-2) and Bengaluru FC (1-4). It is not so much the results that could be a worry as the general level of performance from the capital city’s team. They play Steve Coppell’s Jamshedpur FC on Wednesday, a team that have three points gained from three successive 0-0 draws. What will break first? The run of clean sheets or the run without goals? Dehli need a win as much as Jamshedpur need a goal.
#4 Will the records keep tumbling?
5 records have already been broken in this season’s ISL – the youngest player (Baoringdao Bodo), most appearances by a player (Iain Hume), the youngest player to score and assist in the same game (Lallianzuala Chhangte), the first team to score four in a game against ATK (FC Pune City) and the most ISL goals after ten games (28). Who’d have thought that after the first matches finished 0-0 and Jamshedpur are looking to break records of their own for the least goals ever in their matches?
The next round of matches gets underway on Wednesday.