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5 Must Watch Matches In The ISL

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The 2020-21 campaign of the Indian Super League has now passed the halfway mark and teams are setting up for a positive business end to their tournament. Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan have been head and shoulders over rest in terms of quality until this point and would hope to keep their momentum going. FC Goa have been on a poor streak while the new look Hyderabad FC have risen as the unexpected package of the League. Jamshedpur FC, Northeast United, and Chennaiyin FC have had a mixed bag up until now, while former Champions Kerela Blasters and Odisha FC have been battling to stay away from the spot for the wooden spoon. One of the most followed squads this season, SC East Bengal, despite a helpless beginning, have bounced back strong and now present a pretty solid structure. The next month becomes absolutely vital as the standings can rapidly change with only an eight-point gap between 10th placed SC East Bengal and 4th placed FC Goa. Here are some of the big games to look forward to in the month of February:

1. FC Goa VS Chennaiyin FC, 13th February


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The Gaurs will be facing acclaimed rivals Chennaiyin FC on 13th February at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim. The Marina Machans have played a game less and are five points behind Laszlo’s team right now. It isn’t a straight fight between the two sides in the table, but Goa and Chennaiyin have played some truly energizing, high-scoring encounters before and a total of 11 goals were scored when both sides faced each other back in the semi-final stage last season. Chennaiyin prevailed 2-1 over the Gaurs in December and that loss especially enraged coach Juan Ferrando. The Spaniard will be anxious to vindicate that misfortune when they meet again in February. Chennaiyin have dropped 19 points from a potential 33 this season and will need to display solidity to finish strong when it matters this season.

2. Mumbai City VS Bengaluru FC, 15th February


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Mumbai City and Bengaluru will go head-to-head again on 15 February at the GMC Stadium. The Islanders recorded an encouraging 3-1 triumph over the Blues three weeks prior. Carles Cuadrat was sacked after that game and the team has since given us great exhibitions against East Bengal and Northeast United under the tutelage of Naushad Moosa. One can draw confidence from the fact that they will not surrender when these teams meet with BFC’s players having adjusted more convincingly to Moosa’s style at this point. The injection of new talent could help the cause too, while the Islanders can’t afford to drop focus at any phase of this upcoming period, particularly with ATKMB breathing down their necks. Mumbai should prepare for a genuine threat when Sunil Chhetri drives his men on the 15th of February in what could be a must-win game for Bengaluru to keep their playoff qualification hopes active.

3. ATK Mohun Bagan VS SC East Bengal, 19th February


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The two Kolkata giants will face each other on the 19th of February at the Fatorda Stadium. When both sides faced each other in the Kolkata Derby, it brought about a delightful 2-0 triumph for ATK Mohun Bagan. That was SC East Bengal’s first game of the season and they were grossly under-prepared for a particularly high-octane challenge. Robbie Fowler’s men have steadied themselves after an extremely disheartening beginning to their mission in the ISL and have been undefeated in their last six games. They’ve struck together empowering triumphs against Odisha and Bengaluru FC since then and look better prepared to take on their age old rivals now. New additions like Raju Gaikwad and Bright Enobakhare have had an instant impact on the team and the entire crew will be chomping at the bit to take on Antonio Habas’s men in what could potentially make for a truly invigorating encounter.

4. Kerala Blasters FC VS Chennaiyin FC, 21st February


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The Southern Derby has never disappointed fans over the years. Kerala Blasters are going through one of their poorest runs in history though, having won just 2 of their 11 games. The Kochi-based club has an erratic history with the faith they’ve had in their managers and that projects question over the fate of Kibu Vicuna. They will be unquestionably hoping to change things around to give their dedicated fans something to smile about this season and for that, the Blasters need to power past Chennaiyin FC at the GMC Stadium on 21st February. Abhishek Bachchan’s men are still in contention this season and that adds additional intensity to this key matchup. Csaba Laszlo’s men are firmly in the fight for a playoff spot and 3 points vs the Blasters could pile on the pressure on other mid-table sides at an important stage of the tournament. 

5. FC Goa VS Hyderabad FC, 28th February 


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The Gaurs and the Nizams currently stand third and fourth on the points table and will next meet on the 28th of February at the Fatorda Stadium, which will be the last day of the group stage. The two are highly likely to hold their spots into the playoff but this match to end February might actually turn into a sink or swim experience for either of the teams. Goa vanquished Hyderabad 2-1 through an injury-time winner from Igor Angulo in the first head-to-head between the two sides previously this season. The two teams will hope to display a similar brand of football, giving the fans that flair that we last saw and moving the ball quickly across the turf. Goa may very well edge Hyderabad with their squad depth and current momentum but Manolo Marquez’s men have astonished teams with their electrifying performances up until now. The playoff race and intensity of the last encounter set up this clash beautifully when the two clubs go head-to-head on the 28th.


[Image Credit: ISL – Indian Super League]