ISL 2021-22: 10 talking points from the fortnight

The first fortnight of the 2021-22 season of the Indian Super League has had its share of goals, saves, and drama. Here are the top 10 talking points from the league.

Goal poacher: Javier Hernandez of Odisha FC continued his goal-scoring form in a 6-4 win over Sc East Bengal.   -  ISL/FocusSports

1.Another season of closed-doors football

Unlike the Indian Premier League, ISL’s cricket counterpart, which was shifted temporarily to Dubai, the Indian Super League is being held in a centralised location in India.

Played inside a biosecure bubble, involving stringent quarantine measures, vaccination checks, the games are held behind closed doors, unlike the IPL in Dubai, which had a limited number of spectators in the venues.

2. ATK Mohun Bagan wins the Kolkata derby

SC East Bengal was embroiled in an embarrassing mess with no benefactors, months before the start of the tournament.

The club management and the investor finally reached an understanding after the intervention of the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. East Bengal, however, is paying the price for a late start to the season. It lost the season’s first derby 3-0 to ATK Mohun Bagan, with Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh, and Roy Krishna scoring for the archrival.

Roy on fire: Roy Krishna was one of three scorers as ATK Mohun Bagan swept aside city rival SC East Bengal at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Goa.   -  ISL/FocusSports

 

3. Domination of seasoned goalscorers

Hugo Boumous, Roy Krishna, Igor Angulo, and Javier Hernandez continued to remain regulars in the scoresheet for the new season. ‘Javi’ is scoring goals at will with free-kicks and Olympic goals (a goal scored directly from a corner kick), while Boumous opened the season with his stunner from outside the box.

Mumbai City FC’s captain, Mourtada Fall, led the line for goalscoring defenders like the season before, while Aridai Suarez turned out to be the super sub, with three goals in two matches coming on as a substitute for Odisha FC.

PODCAST: Our reporters Shyam Vasudevan, Aashin Prasad and N Sudarshan review matchweek 1 of the 2021-22 season of the Indian Super League and analyse the teams and their performances in this episode of The Full Time Show. Listen in -

4. A goal-fest

The last match between SC East Bengal and Odisha FC saw eleven goals, with Odisha winning it 6-5. This time, too, Odisha scored another six past the Kolkata side, winning the game 6-4.

5. A vulnerable Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC is failing to find a balance at the back with the team feeling the absence of Rahul Bheke. Sunil Chhetri is missing his scoring boots and has missed two penalties in the league already, which indicates the Blues are not firing on all cylinders.

With a packed season ahead and with injury problems, most recently of Prince Ibara, the 2018-19 Indian Super League champion has looked shaky under a new manager.

6. FC Goa is completely out of tune

When Juan Ferrando’s men won their first Durand Cup in October, it was expected to be a launchpad for better things ahead.

However, the 2019-20 ISL champion has failed to pick up a single point in the league so far, losing all three games, sitting at the bottom of the table. A team that was known for its attacking prowess lost Angulo last season and has managed to score just two goals in the league so far.

7. Northeast United FC a victim of circumstances

The Khalid Jamil-led side, which finished third last season, has been debilitated with injuries. However, after the initial struggle, it has finally managed a win against FC Goa.

NEUFC’s attack has lost strength with Deshorn Brown’s absence while defender Hernan Santana has struggled to last the entire 90-minutes of a game.

8. Odisha — the most improved side

Odisha FC, which finished at the bottom of the table last season, began its season with a win and has been on song, winning two of its first three games. The side, after adding former ATK striker Javi to its side, has looked dangerous on the attack and Aridai’s presence has only strengthened its arsenal.

9. The usual case of sloppy refereeing

Refereeing in the Indian Super League has been under scrutiny for a long time, and this season is no exception. The opening strike of the season was allowed to stand despite Roy Krishna blocking the goalkeeper’s view. A clear handball in that same match was also ignored.

ATK Mohun Bagan has already lodged a formal complaint against the level of refereeing after its 5-1 loss to Mumbai City FC.

10. Mumbai City FC on fire

The defending ISL champion had scored 35 goals last season, the most in the league and seven more than second-placed ATK Mohun Bagan. This season, it has already scored 12 goals.

With an exception to their 2-1 loss to Hyderabad, the Islanders have scored three goals or more in every other game.

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