Form, just like in any other sport, is a fickle thing in football. After floundering around for much of the season, Bengaluru coach Simon Grayson found the right ingredients, at the perfect time, albeit by an inconceivable omission.
And then, there was no stopping the Blues as they reeled in eight wins in a row -- including one over the previously unbeaten Mumbai City FC -- as it finished fourth, qualifying for the playoff, with the benefit of playing at home in the first knockout game.
And at the other end of the form spectrum, we have Kerala Blasters.
Manager Ivan Vukumanovic, after a stuttering start, steadied the ship as Blasters set an eight-game unbeaten streak, including a 3-2 win at home over Bengaluru, putting them in the coat-tails of the top two – Hyderabad FC and Mumbai.
And then their season took a nosedive.
In the last eight games, they lost six and won two, with one of them coming against bottom-placed NorthEast United.
The goals dried up for the three-time ISL finalists, while their defence was as porous as a cotton shirt on a hot sunny day.
And now, in a battle of contrasts, Kerala Blasters heads to Bengaluru in the knockout playoff at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Friday.
For much of the season, it seemed that the 2021-22 ISL runner-up will finish in the top four, if not in the top two.
But in the end, it will be Bengaluru, the reigning Durand Cup champion, which will host the Blasters in the penultimate impediment to the semifinal.
It is an advantage which could be a telling one, considering that Blasters have never won at the Kanteerava.
Vukumanovic’s side is close to being the best in the league at home. But away from it, the Blasters have struggled, with just three wins, while being the fourth-worst in the league.