HomeSportsISL: Mohun Bagan face tough battle in quest for top spot

ISL: Mohun Bagan face tough battle in quest for top spot

Defending champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) are expected to face a tough challenge in their quest to regain the top spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023–24 standings when they take on Kerala Blasters FC at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Wednesday.

Mohun Bagan had moved to the top of the ISL standings after a 3-1 victory over bitter rivals East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby. However, they were overtaken by Mumbai City FC who crushed NorthEast United FC 4-1 on Tuesday.

Mumbai City FC are now on 39 points from 19 matches. They have a three-point lead over second-placed Mohun Bagan who have played two games less. Both teams have an identical goal difference of 34.

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Kerala Blasters FC is now ranked fifth in the standings after suffering four straight losses in their last five games. With a win today, they will reach 32 in 18 games, four behind the Mariners and Mumbai City FC. They now have 29 points from 17 games.

Though FC Goa stumbled last month, losing 4-2 here after blowing a two-goal lead, it’s not easy to penetrate the Kochi bastion. Under Antonio Lopez Habas’ direction, the Mariners are on a scorching run of play, but defeating Kerala Blasters FC at home will not be an easy feat.

Kerala Blasters FC

With a goal or more in each of their last nine games in Kochi, Kerala Blasters FC are enjoying a decent run at home. During this period, they have only lost once while winning six times and drawing twice.

However, some of their squad’s shortcomings have recently been apparent. For example, there was a tendency to rely too much on Adrian Luna and Kwame Peprah, which has prevented them from operating at their full potential even though Dimitrios Diamantakos consistently produces excellent work.

Kerala Blasters FC, for example, have scored the fewest goals this season (1) via crosses. Absolute defensive steadiness has been the cornerstone of Habas’ success in the ISL. He’ll be on the lookout to close any gaps, stop the Yellow Army from conducting their operations normally, and push them beyond their comfort zone in order to achieve the objectives of this confrontation.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant

In their current seven-game unbeaten streak, Mohun Bagan Super Giants have won five and drew twice. Three games of losses preceded this run, but the Mariners haven’t gone unbeaten for as long as they are right now — 13 Indian Super League (ISL) games from February to December of 2023 — since then.

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Since the beginning of 2024, Mohun Bagan Super Giants have had the greatest average anticipated goals (xG) value of any team in the competition, averaging 1.59 per game. Their seven-game xG total of 11.15 is the highest since the ISL campaign’s resumption. Their attacking group was quite impressive in the derby match against East Bengal FC, and they will want to continue that performance in the remaining five Indian Super League (ISL) games.