I-league stats: Three talking points from round 11

The round 11 of the Hero I-League saw Churchill Brothers secure a much-needed victory against DSK Shivajians, Aizawl continued its good run by beating Chennai City at home. The biggest surprise of the week, though, was champion Bengaluru FC’s 1-3 loss against East Bengal.

Aizawl FC fans cheer during their side’s match against Chennai City FC.   -  I-League Media

The round 11 of the Hero I-League saw Churchill Brothers secure a much-needed victory against DSK Shivajians while Aizawl continued its good run by beating Chennai City at home. The biggest surprise of the week, though, was champion Bengaluru FC’s 1-3 loss against East Bengal. Here’s our pick of talking points from the gameweek.

1) Bengaluru missing clinical striker

Albert Roca and Bengaluru FC loaned out their only out-and-out striker, Haitian Roby Norales, to I-League second division side Ozone FC during the transfer window. The team’s attacking front three of Udanta Singh, Sunil Chhetri and C.K. Vineeth is perhaps India’s best on paper. But the decision seems to have backfired for the Blues with its strikers losing their steam after a good start to the season. The team lost 3-1 to East Bengal — former striker Robin Singh showing the Blues exactly what they were missing by scoring a brace — even after dominating possession.

Bengaluru dominated the possession against East Bengal

 

Bengaluru had 60% ball possession, made 53 passes into the box (as opposed to East Bengal’s 27), delivered 19 crosses (East Bengal 11), had 22 key passes (East Bengal 14) and yet only scored one goal against East Bengal’s three. The team has scored just six goals in seven games as compared to eight goals in the first three games of the season. The likes of Udanta and Cameron Watson have been thumping in crosses to the box, but Bengaluru strikers have struggled to occupy the right spaces. Chhetri, traditionally, has enjoyed playing at the edge of the box, feeding on second balls. His partner, Vineeth, too, isn’t physically imposing to win the crosses.

Udanta Singh was a constant threat for East Bengal from the right-wing but BFC strikers could not capitalise.

 

2) Robin Singh for India?

The Noida-born striker has returned from a long-term injury lay off with a bang and has been instrumental in East Bengal’s stay at the top of the league. He was quicker and sharper than the Bengaluru defence in the match at the Sri Kanteerava Stadium and his brace would not have gone unnoticed by national team coach Stephen Constantine.

Should Robin be given a shot in the Indian national team?

 

He is the second highest Indian goal-scorer this season, with four goals (after C.K. Vineeth who has scored six), and considering Jeje’s relatively poor outing, the ‘Beast’ could well be back in the reckoning for the game against Cambodia on March 22nd, before India begins the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

3) Aizawl: India’s Leicester City?

After escaping relegation last season, Aizawl brought in experienced coach Khalid Jamil to guide the ship and the team has had a dream start to the 2016-17 campaign, temporarily occupying the top-spot by beating Chennai City FC on Saturday.

While the Mizoram-based squad was always good going forward, coach Jamil has made the team resilient in the back, defending together as a team when not in possession. The team, which enjoys a massive home support, has already made lives of the big-guns difficult, and can be a serious challenger for the title. As stats show, Aizawl was the most effective team in round 11, in chasing down opposition players in their own half and winning the ball.

Stats courtesy: Instats