ISL 2018: Nine games down, nine to go

Going into 2018 and the second half of the season in the Indian Super League and as you would expect, things are tight.  This report is based on the top five and their hopes of silverware, going forward into the business end of the competition.

Five points separate Bengalauru FC in first and FC Goa in fifth. No team has set the league a light with their form which brings a mouth-watering 2018 to the forefront in what could really be anyone’s year.

1st: Bengaluru FC

W: 6 | D: 0 | L: 3 | GD: 8 | PTS: 18

Finishing 2017 top of the pile is always an achievement but means nothing if you can’t maintain your form into the the new year. Winning their last two games, including their first of 2018, a 1-0 win against ATK was the perfect start for Albert Roca’s men.

With Miku and Sunil Chhetri leading the line, their goals will be vital in Bengaluru’s bid for the title. The forward pair have scored 13 of the leaders 18 goals and an over-reliance could be costly in the second half of the season.

A first ISL title could be in sight for Bengaluru and they will certainly relish the opportunity their start has given them.

2nd: Chennaiyin FC

W: 5 | D: 2 | L: 2 | GD: 5 | PTS: 17

2015 champions Chennaiyin come into the halfway point one point behind the leaders. A draw against bottom of the table Delhi Dynamos due to a last minute equaliser, is not the start to the year Chennai wanted and denied them top spot.

It would be impossible to talk about Chennai without a mention for Jeje Lalpekhlua. The Indian forward has already equalled his highest goal total in an ISL campaign with six strikes and will certainly be looking to fire Chennai to their second title.

>With their only two defeats in the league coming against top five opposition early in the season (Mumbai and Goa). Chennai will need to rectify that if they want to stay in touch with the teams around them.

3rd: FC Pune City

W: 5 | D: 1 | L: 3 | GD: 8 | PTS: 16

It was a confusing start to the season for Pune fans. No one would be wrong for not knowing what to expect. An opening day home defeat to Delhi (The Dynamo’s only win of the season) was followed by a 4-1 away demolition of two time champions ATK.

City are currently enjoying their longest unbeaten run this season (3), scoring eight goals and only conceding one. The confidence is running high at Pune and Ranko Popovic will be looking for his squad to keep up their momentum.

With games coming up against Chennai and ATK, Pune will have to keep their momentum going and victories will guarantee they rise the table.

4th: Mumbai City FC 

W: 4 | D: 2 | L: 3 | GD: 4 | PTS: 14

Occupying the second best defence in the ISL, Mumbai fans will certainly enjoy their teams rear guard action. Their Keeper Amrinder Singh has made 31 saves in the league, seven more than any other stopper.

Seven points in their last three games has seen City jump to fourth in the table but they might struggle to stay there. Having only scored 13 goals in their nine games, they have the worst attacking line up in the top five according to statistics.

With two of their next three games against top five opponents, wins will be vital for Mumbai if they wish to hold their position.

5th: FC Goa

W: 4 | D: 1 | L: 3 | GD: 5 | PTS: 13

Inconsistent. One word to describe the contrasting start Goa have made. It really is a tale of the two ends of the pitch. Firing on all cylinders would be a great way to describe their blistering front line.

The highest scorers in the division, averaging over two goals per game. Pair this with the second worst defence and zero clean sheets in the ISL and things are suddenly not all good for Goa. With a game in hand over the top four, a victory could see them rise as high as third at the half way stage.

Top scorer in the ISL, Ferran Corominas has been a joy to watch and is the only player to have a higher goals than game ratio in the league. What makes Corominas’ tally even better is that he has outscored each team outside the top five single handedly.