The Indian Super League (ISL) kicked off in unique circumstances at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on November 20, with the first match between ATK Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters ending 1-0 in favor of ATK Mohun Bagan. Roy Krishna scored the only goal of the game, in what was quite honestly a scrappy affair.
With the first match done and dusted, let's have a look at what we can expect in the first week of ISL.
5 things to look out for in the first week of ISL 2020-21:
#1 Number of goals scored
Football without fans is extremely different. When the major European leagues started after the lockdown early this year, a startling trend was spotted. On an average, 1.3 more goals were being scored per match than they were being scored before the lockdown. And that trend of more and more goals has continued into the new seasons across Europe as well.
While there is no direct evidence to prove that this is because of the lack of fans in the stadiums, the correlation between the two is too visible to ignore. It will thus be interesting to see if the same happens in the ISL.
#2 The duo of Owen Coyle and Nerijus Valskis at Jamshedpur FC
Owen Coyle joined Chennaiyin FC midway through last season, and completely changed the fortunes of the team. From struggling at the bottom of the table, they ended the season as ISL finalists, and narrowly missed out on winning the title.
Along with Coyle's impact, Nerijus Valskis' goals were central to Chennaiyin performing the way they did. With both having joined Jamshedpur FC now, it will be interesting to see if they can import their impact to their new side.
Incidentally, Jamshedpur FC''s first ISL match this season is against none other than Chennaiyin FC on November 24.
#3 The Kolkata Derby
For the very first time, the legendary Kolkata Derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan will be played in the ISL, which has now become the highest level of football played in the country. ATK Mohun Bagan merged with erstwhile ATK from last season while East Bengal found an investor in Shree Cements which could make their participation in the ISL possible.
The derby, which will take place on November 27, will see Antonio Lopez Habas at the helm of ATKMB while former Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler will be the manager of SC East Bengal. With both sides possessing a litany of young Indian talents along with experienced foreign players, this promises to be a mouth-watering encounter.
#4 How will Mumbai City FC do under Sergio Lobera?
It will be no exaggeration to say that Mumbai City FC will be followed even more keenly than last season for two main reasons. The first is the involvement of the City Football group, which now owns a majority stake in the team. The second is Sergio Lobera, who has been one of the best managers in the ISL over the last few years.
With players like Hugo Boumous joining him at Mumbai City FC from FC Goa, he has all the wherewithal for success. It is now up to him to show if he can live up to the expectations.
#5 Can Bengaluru FC maintain their high standards?
Bengaluru FC have showed the way forward to a lot of teams in Indian football ever since their inception a little over five years ago. The fact that they are among the favorites at the beginning of every tournament is a testament to the stability they enjoy as a club.
But the competition in the ISL is increasing all the time. Teams have strengthened significantly, and it is not the same ecosystem that BFC found themselves in when they initially joined the league. Their first ISL 2020-21 match is against FC Goa on November 22. It will be interesting to see if they will be able to replicate the same high standards that have made them the club they are today.Published 21 Nov 2020, 16:37 IST