ISL trophy kept during the final of the Hero Indian Super League 2018 ( ISL ) between Bengaluru FC and FC Goa held at The Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai, India on the 17th March 2019Photo by: Sandeep Shetty /SPORTZPICS for ISL
INDIA: FC Goa and ATK are guaranteed a top-two finish but the ultimate cast for the 2019-20 Hero Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs hinge on some intriguing final-week league fixtures. Defending champions Bengaluru FC has also sealed qualification into the knockouts as Mumbai City, Chennaiyin FC and even Odisha FC hang onto their hopes of locking down on a coveted top-four finish.
The ISL, having been accorded the status of India’s top division this season onwards has added to the footballing charm. With both Bengaluru FC and ATK suffering shock defeats against lower-ranked oppositions over the past weekend, the league table has opened up and how. Three teams still remain in the hunt for the final playoff berth going into the last round of league games, making the league more competitive than ever.
Also, there is a bigger prize at stake now, the club that finishes on top at the end of the League stage gets a direct entry into the group stage of the AFC Champions League, a first for Indian clubs. Either FC Goa or ATK look set to grab a piece of history as the first-ever Hero ISL League Winners. Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City have it upon themselves to confirm the third and fourth spot respectively while Chennaiyin has the cushion of the extra game and Odisha have to rely on various permutations and combinations to march into the playoffs.FC GOA (36 Points)Remaining Game: 19 Feb – Jamshedpur FC vs FC GoaGoa will have wrapped the regular season well and early as their trip to Jamshedpur on Wednesday could be a potential history in the making. The Gaurs need only one point (37 points) to confirm themselves as Hero ISL League Winners and gain entry into the AFC Champions League. However, their top spot could be in danger if they lose to Jamshedpur and ATK win their game against Bengaluru. Both teams will be tied on 36 points each but the Kolkata side will edge ahead in lieu of a better head-to-head record.
ATK (33 Points)Remaining Game: 22 Feb – Bengaluru FC vs ATKTo end top, ATK will need Jamshedpur FC to first beat FC Goa and then themselves defeat Bengaluru. In this case, both FC Goa and ATK will be tied on 36 points but the two-time Hero ISL champions have a better head-to-head tally this season. If FC Goa even pick up a point in Jamshedpur, ATK will finish second regardless of their result against Bengaluru.
BENGALURU FC (29 Points)Remaining Game: 22 Feb – Bengaluru FC vs ATKThe defending champions can cement the third spot they currently occupy with a win against ATK, taking them to 32 points as Chennaiyin FC, with two games in hand can rise up to 31 points. If Mumbai City defeats Chennaiyin and Bengaluru fall to ATK, the Islanders will topple Sunil Chhetri & Co. to the third spot despite having the same number of points – 29; as Jorge Costa’s men did the double on Bengaluru. Else, just one point is sufficient for Bengaluru in that regard to staying third. If they lose, Bengaluru could end with the same number of points with Chennaiyin (29 points) but a better head-to-head will see them remain safe on the third.
MUMBAI CITY (26 Points)Remaining Game: 21 Feb – Mumbai City vs Chennaiyin FCIt is pretty simple for Mumbai City – win (29 points) against Chennaiyin and seal a playoff spot. If Bengaluru loses the following day, Mumbai City would end up third as well. However, if they draw (27 points) against Chennaiyin, the Islanders would need a favor from NorthEast United in the final league game of the season as well as from Kerala Blasters against Odisha FC. If Odisha wins, their league double will ensure Mumbai City is eliminated. If not, and in case of a draw in Guwahati, both Chennaiyin and Mumbai City will be locked down on 27 points each. Superior goal difference in the league will come into play and in that case, Mumbai City will drop out.
CHENNAIYIN FC (25 Points)Remaining Games: 21 Feb – Mumbai City vs Chennaiyin FC; 25 Feb – NorthEast United FC vs Chennaiyin FCAfter their dramatic turnaround, Chennaiyin sits pretty with a couple of games in hand. However, Chennaiyin cannot afford to lose in Mumbai but a minimum of two points from two games combined with Odisha FC dropping points will do it for Owen Coyle’s men. If Chennaiyin wins both their games (31 points) and Bengaluru drop points against ATK, the two-time Hero ISL champions could also finish third.
ODISHA FC (24 Points)Remaining Game: 23 Feb – Odisha FC vs Kerala Blasters FCBefore Odisha take the field in the penultimate league game of the season, they would need Mumbai City and Chennaiyin to draw and then win against Blasters themselves. Both Mumbai City and Odisha then end up on 27 points each. Chennaiyin will then need to drop points at NorthEast United and with each of Mumbai City, Chennaiyin and Odisha tied on 27 points, the Bhubaneswar side will make the top four given their better head-to-head record with both sides.
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