The Indian Super League 2021-22 season’s league stage concludes on March 7, and the competition for playoff positions is heating up. Six of the ISL’s eleven teams are still in contention, and with several season-defining games on the horizon, we take a look at the many scenarios for each team.
- 1 Let us look at each club’s chances of making the ISL 2021-22 playoffs and advancing further to the championship:
- 1.1 Hyderabad FC – Current position: 1
- 1.2 Jamshedpur FC – Current position: 2
- 1.3 ATK Mohun Bagan – Current position: 3
- 1.4 Mumbai City FC – Current position: 4
- 1.5 Kerala Blasters – Current position: 5
- 1.6 Bengaluru FC – Current position: 6
- 1.7 Odisha FC – Current position: 7 (Eliminated)
- 1.8 Chennaiyin FC – Current position: 8 (Eliminated)
- 1.9 FC Goa – Current position: 9 (Eliminated)
- 1.10 NorthEast United FC – Current position: 10 (Eliminated)
- 1.11 SC East Bengal – Current position: 11 (Eliminated)
Let us look at each club’s chances of making the ISL 2021-22 playoffs and advancing further to the championship:
Hyderabad FC – Current position: 1
Hyderabad may be in the first place right now, but they will have to contend with three of the division’s fiercest teams. Because of the league’s unpredictable nature, Hyderabad could lose all of their remaining games and fall out of postseason contention. All Hyderabad has to do now is beat Mumbai City in their final game to ensure qualification.
If Manolo Marquez’s side can get four points against the Blasters and Jamshedpur, even a draw versus Mumbai will suffice. The simplest solution is for them to win two of their last three games, ensuring qualifying regardless of the teams involved.
Remaining fixtures: Kerala Blasters (February 23), Jamshedpur FC (March 1), Mumbai City (March 5).
Jamshedpur FC – Current position: 2
Jamshedpur FC will qualify with two wins and a draw, although they have two difficult matches against championship contenders Hyderabad and ATKMB. Jamshedpur, like Chennaiyin – whom they defeated 4-1 on Sunday – should have too much firepower for NEUFC. It makes a victory over Odisha all the more important.
Remaining fixtures: NorthEast United (February 25), Hyderabad FC (March 1), Odisha FC (March 4), ATK Mohun Bagan (March 7).
ATK Mohun Bagan – Current position: 3
ATK Mohun Bagan, like Hyderabad, needs three wins to qualify, but they have an easier time of it. Even if they lose against fellow championship contenders Jamshedpur, they may still qualify for the playoffs by beating Odisha, Bengaluru FC, and Chennaiyin. Even if ATKMB can only win two of their remaining five games, they can still qualify if they avoid losing the other two.
Remaining fixtures: Odisha FC (February 24), Bengaluru FC (February 27), Chennaiyin FC (March 3), Jamshedpur FC (March 7).
Mumbai City FC – Current position: 4
Greg Stewart’s injury-time penalty in Jamshedpur’s recent 3-2 win over Mumbai could have far-reaching consequences. Not only were the reigning champions denied a chance to make a difference in the points totals of those ahead of them, but they also dropped a critical point as the game neared its conclusion.
Mumbai may earn a maximum of 37 points this season if they beat Kerala and Hyderabad in their final two games, but even if they lose to Mumbai, those two clubs might still qualify. Mumbai’s fate is out of their hands, and they will need the help of other clubs to beat the teams above them on the table.
Remaining fixtures: FC Goa (February 26), Kerala Blasters (March 2), Hyderabad FC (March 5).
Kerala Blasters – Current position: 5
The Kerala Blasters sit in the fourth and final playoff spot, five points behind league leaders Hyderabad. The Blasters’ math is simple: four wins ensure qualification, but given their run-in opponents, that’s easier said than done. Defeating Mumbai in their penultimate game would be a significant boost for Kerala, as it would mean they just needed three victories instead of four if Bengaluru FC also dropped points in their final four games.
As a result, Kerala might lose their game against title rivals Hyderabad but still qualify if they beat Chennaiyin, Mumbai, and Goa in their final three games, all while forcing BFC to drop points.
Remaining fixtures: Hyderabad FC (February 23), Chennaiyin FC (February 26), Mumbai City FC (March 2), FC Goa (March 6).
Bengaluru FC – Current position: 6
BFC’s fragile playoff chances have been strengthened with a 2-1 win over Odisha. Bengaluru, on the other hand, is reliant on the teams above them dropping points, although they have the advantage of only meeting one of them in the final stretch. BFC will have an extra three days of relaxation before their game against ATK Mohun Bagan, which might be essential in an attritional season.
As a result, it’s not out of the question for Bengaluru to win both of their remaining games, bringing their total to 32 points. However, they’ll need all of the above-mentioned clubs to lose points to minnows, which looks unlikely – a miracle, if anything.
Remaining fixtures: ATK Mohun Bagan (February 27), SC East Bengal (March 5).
Odisha FC – Current position: 7 (Eliminated)
Odisha FC’s 1-2 loss against Bengaluru knocked them out of the playoff race. Even if Odisha won their final two games and finished with 28 points, they would not be able to qualify due to their H2H losses to Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City. Regardless of the outcome of their game (win, lose, or draw), one of the Blasters and Mumbai will be on 28 points, eliminating Odisha.
Remaining fixtures: ATK Mohun Bagan (February 24), Jamshedpur FC (March 4).
Chennaiyin FC – Current position: 8 (Eliminated)
Chennaiyin’s slender qualification aspirations were crushed after a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Jamshedpur. In their final stretch, the former champions will face title contenders and could lose all of their remaining games, capping off a disastrous season.
Remaining fixtures: Kerala Blasters (February 26), ATK Mohun Bagan (March 3).
FC Goa – Current position: 9 (Eliminated)
After losing against Hyderabad FC, FC Goa is no longer in contention for the playoffs.
Remaining fixtures: Mumbai City (February 26), Kerala Blasters (March 6).
NorthEast United FC – Current position: 10 (Eliminated)
Even if their season is finished, Khalid Jamil’s team will be aiming to escape an embarrassing last-place finish, and an impressive 2-1 win over Bengaluru FC in their most recent encounter should give them plenty of hope.
Remaining fixtures: Jamshedpur FC (February 25), SC East Bengal (February 28).
SC East Bengal – Current position: 11 (Eliminated)
SC East Bengal has nothing to play for, but they may be able to inflict some damage on MCFC and BFC in the playoff race.
Remaining fixtures: NorthEast United (February 28), Bengaluru FC (March 5).