ISL 2023-24: Attacking talents flourish, defensive stability define league’s best team

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 league stages rounded off with Mohun Bagan Super Giant becoming the league champions for the first time in the history of the competition. They displaced Mumbai City FC from the top to become the league winners as the Mariners edged past the Islanders by 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata with the race for the top spot.

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 league stages rounded off with Mohun Bagan Super Giant becoming the league champions for the first time in the history of the competition. They displaced Mumbai City FC from the top to become the league winners as the Mariners edged past the Islanders by 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata with the race for the top spot.

The Antonio Lopez Habas-coached side accumulated 48 points from 22 games, beating the 47 of Mumbai City FC, and were thus crowned as the ISL 2023-24 league winners. However, the drama hasn’t simmered down yet, with the fight for the ISL 2023-24 Cup winners set to go down the wire with the playoffs beginning on April 19.

Before that, here’s a look at some of the startling statistical insights from the league stages of the current campaign of the top-tier.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant top the goal-scoring charts

Powered by a gifted frontline comprising Dimitrios Petratos, Armando Sadiku, Jason Cummings, along with Indian attackers in Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh, the Mohun Bagan Super Giant took pride in outscoring their opponents at will.

They found the back of the net 47 times across 22 games, which is the highest in the league and five more than the second-best team, i.e. Mumbai City FC (42 goals). Cummings (10), Petratos (10), and Sadiku (8) feature in the list of the top-10 goal-scorers currently, with the Mariners being the team with the highest representation in this coveted group.

Manvir Singh (7), Petratos (6), Joni Kauko (4), and Sahal Abdul Samad (4) are placed in the group of top-10 assist providers as well, reflecting a cohesive team effort that propelled the team to the title.

Mumbai City FC – Safest defence in the league

The Mumbai City FC defence has conceded the least goals in ISL 2023-24, giving away only 19 goals in the competition. The backline underwent a massive transition this season, with Mourtada Fall leaving for Odisha FC and Rostyn Griffiths saying goodbye to the Islanders mid-season.

Mumbai City FC have faced the least shots (231) and also the fewest amongst those on target (64) so far. They have kept the third-most clean sheets in the tournament (8), and their domestic contingent of the likes of Rahul Bheke, Mehtab Singh, Akash Mishra, amongst others have had a key role to play in that. Under those circumstances, the fact the Mariners managed to put in two goals past them in the title-winning clash is even more praiseworthy.

FC Goa buy into Manolo Marquez’s ideas

Manolo Marquez embraced and has so far thrived with the challenge of re-erecting the trembling FC Goa ship. The Gaurs have evolved into his philosophy seamlessly, recording a 74.3% passing accuracy in the opposition’s half this season. They have recorded the most final third passes (3265) and that too with the highest accuracy (69.7%).

Defensively, they have faced the least shots (198) and kept the most clean sheets (9) in the competition too. FC Goa, too, were derailed with injury issues to Victor Rodriguez and Sandesh Jhingan. However, they managed to stay in the hunt for the second spot right until the end owing to some smart mid-season acquisitions like Mohammed Yasir and Borja Herrera. They have also won the most points from losing situations (18), which reflects an undying attitude and something that will help them tremendously in the playoffs.

Attacking duo work wonders for Odisha FC

Boosted by the presence of senior strikers in Roy Krishna and Diego Mauricio, Odisha FC sailed through large chunks of the campaign comfortably due to their dominance upfront. With 35 goals to their name, they recorded the best shot conversion in the league at 17.9%. They have the second-best shooting accuracy in the league, at 48.5%.

The Juggernauts tend to begin the game strongly, netting 63% of their strikes in the first half of their matches. With the highest passing accuracy in the league, i.e. 81.9%, Odisha FC ensured that they kept pushing for their desired objectives of the campaign right until the very end. Will they bring their A-game to the table against Kerala Blasters on Friday?

Kerala Blasters FC face fitting playoffs task

Kerala Blasters FC sneaked into the playoffs thanks to a powerful performance in the first half of the season. The Yellow Army lost seven out of the ten games they played in the league since February, winning only twice. Though renowned for their home record, the Ivan Vukomanovic-coached team has fared well on the road too this season.

13 out of their 33 points this season have come through away fixtures. In fact, they have won six games in Kochi and four away from home, indicating that they will be up to overcome whatever challenge Odisha FC front them with in the playoffs at the Kalinga Stadium on April 19. To put some context, the Juggernauts have the best home record in the league, having collected 27 points from 11 matches, and it is a bastion that Vukomanovic & Co. will have difficulties in breaching.

Can Owen Coyle recreate his magic with Chennaiyin FC?

Chennaiyin FC stormed into the playoffs with the help of three victories in their final four matches. Owen Coyle has repeatedly managed to punch above his weight with his teams, taking the Marina Machans to the finals of ISL 2019-20 and then making Jamshedpur FC the ISL champions in 2021-22. For large parts of this season, Chennaiyin FC struggled in the bottom few places, but the team got its act together when needed, winning 10 points from losing positions this season.

They are solid starters, scoring 27% of their goals in the first 15 minutes of their games, which is the highest share amongst all teams. Rafael Crivellaro has been critical to their prospects, creating 42 goal-scoring chances and recording seven assists, and it will be interesting to observe the Brazilian unlocking the FC Goa defence in their playoffs clash on April 20.

The ISL 2023-24 playoffs kick off with the clash between Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters FC on Friday.

 (IANS)