The two teams with different approaches stood out from the rest of the peloton …
Nine matchdays after the start of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21, surprises, twists and turns have been few and far between.
Two teams that were touted as favorites to win the title have moved away from the rest of the league in the standings and look good to remain the top two teams until the very end from now on.
Mumbai City were busy putting together a strong squad ahead of the start of the season and their efforts are paying off. They also have a proven manager in Sergio Lobera who is heavily involved in the implementation of his project at his new club after three years of exciting fans with a great football mark with FC Goa. They currently lead the table with 22 points from nine matches with a seven-point lead already from third-team former club Lobera, Goa.
Antonio Habas ‘ATK Mohun Bagan, who has the 2019-20 ISL ATK champions’ plan in terms of personnel, also flies high in second place with 20 points from nine matches. Mumbai and Bagan have lost just one game this season and are currently unbeaten in eight and five games respectively.
Interestingly, these two teams are on the opposite end of the football spectrum depending on the method they use to win games. The Mumbai city of Lobera has an innate desire to hold the ball for long periods of play and to open their defenses with the vision and skill of their players. Habas Bagan are determined to keep the defense organized and as a result they have the best defense in the league as it is and have left just three goals in nine matches.
Of the two teams, Mumbai has been much more impressive. They have managed to show their style of play without losing any goals at the back, as Goa did when Lobera first took over the Gaurs three years ago. They have a solid back line led by Mourtada Fall and Hernan Santana and one of the best goalkeepers in the country at Amrinder Singh who keeps the goal.
Hyderabad and Jamshedpur rank low in passing and ball retention statistics because they have played with more Indian players, with key foreigners indisposed.
Mumbai City midfielders Ahmed Jahouh and Hugo Boumous have been effective in outclassing their opponents. Boumous has the most assists under his belt this season and even though Jahouh plays the role of a defensive midfielder, he has been the backbone of Lobera’s side, averaging 88 touches per game with a pass accuracy of 79.2. Rowllin Borges is also to be commended for the high rate of work he provides when he’s on the pitch.
With Adam Le Fondre in great shape in the final third, it’s no surprise that they have the best shot conversion rate. But Le Fondre is not the only one to have played as a striker this season. Roy Krishna of Bagan picked up where he left off last with his Bagan match winners.
Le Fondre has a better target-to-goal ratio compared to Krishna, but three of Le Fondre’s first six goals were penalties, compared to Krishna’s. The Fijian, however, has the worst shooting accuracy among the top five forwards.
Rafael Crivellaro and Brandon Fernandes created plenty of chances but wasting their attackers has meant their assist column makes viewing dismal.
Bagan and Mumbai City seem unstoppable at the moment, but the league is only half over. Teams such as Jamshedpur and Hyderabad have shown glimpses of brilliance.
All statistics used in this article are from @OptaJeev and were taken on January 4, 2021.