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ISL 2019-20: 5 Fixtures that could define the top four race 

EXPERT COLUMNIST
Feature
Modified 06 Feb 2020, 15:08 IST

The ISL has entered its home stretch
The ISL has entered its home stretch

The 2019-20 season of the Indian Super League has reached its home stretch and akin to its predecessors, it hasn’t been short of drama. More importantly though, despite only 16 games being left, the identity of three of the top four remains up in the air. 

FC Goa, courtesy their 4-1 mauling of Hyderabad FC on the 5th of February 2020, became the first side to qualify and now seem primed to have a tilt at the top spot, which would guarantee them a place in next season’s AFC Champions League.

ATK and Bengaluru FC, meanwhile, are also close on the Gaurs’ heels and barring a calamitous collapse in the latter stages, the pair is expected to feature come March 2020.

On the other hand, the likes of Chennaiyin FC, Mumbai City FC and Odisha FC face a monumental task trying to outwit the others and seal a place in the play-offs. While the trio has showcased the capabilities to perch themselves among the ISL elite through the course of the season, the pressure of potential knock-out fixtures could prove potential banana skins.

Thus, at this juncture, the time seems ripe to delve into deeper analysis and chalk down the fixtures that could play a pivotal part as the race for the top four gathers pace. 

The ISL table as it stands before Match 75
The ISL table as it stands before Match 75

#5 ATK vs Chennaiyin FC (16th February 2020)

Chennaiyin FC face a tough away trip to Kolkata
Chennaiyin FC face a tough away trip to Kolkata

After a lacklustre season in 2019-20, ATK have gotten their act together and now seem primed to finish in the top two. Players of the ilk of David Williams and Roy Krishna have taken to the ISL like a duck to water whereas Indians such as Michael Soosairaj, Prabir Das and Sumit Rathi have also impressed.

Thus, ATK represent one of the most well-oiled units in the league, meaning that Chennaiyin would have to dig deep into their reserves to fashion a result on the 16th of February 2020.

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Fortunately for the Marina Machans though, they’ve gathered an enormous head of steam in recent weeks, especially after the arrival of Owen Coyle. The Irishman has gotten the side dancing to his tunes and has unlocked the vast attacking potential that existed in the squad.

Chennaiyin have won their last four matches and have scored 15 goals in the process. Hence, they could prove to a tough nut to crack for ATK, despite the latter having conceded only 4 times at home this term.

Furthermore, at this stage, Kerala Blasters remain the only side to inflict a home defeat on ATK, thereby highlighting the magnitude of Chennaiyin’s task.

Yet, with momentum on their side, the Marina Machans would hope to give a decent account of themselves and catapult themselves to at least a point.

However, even if they return empty-handed, they have enough scope to rectify their campaign elsewhere, although one feels they might want to underline their credentials with a stellar victory at a title contender. 

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Published 06 Feb 2020, 15:08 IST
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