Five things we learned from I-League Round 21

Goal takes a look at all the action from round 21 in which Bengaluru extended their lead at the top with Salgaocar close on their heels...
This gameweek saw the top three teams, namely Bengaluru FC, Pune FC and Salgaocar getting all three points with Rangdajied United continuing to impress after ther third consecutive victory which took them well above the relegation zone.

Title race getting very interesting

Bengaluru FC are not yet running away with the title. Salgaocar FC are hot on their trail and Pune FC are very much in the mix too. Salgaocar will be the happiest lost as they only once have to travel outside Goa. Bengaluru have a tricky run of four away games among the five fixtures remaining and the one at home is an important one against title contenders Pune. The Red Lizards on the other hand have the most difficult run in, where they have three AFC Cup games sandwiched between their six remaining I-League fixtures. They also play against Bengaluru and Salgaocar and these two games might just decide the fate of the top three.

Kolkata teams are struggling

The Kolkata teams are still struggling to make it into the top half of the table. East Bengal is stuck in the middle of the table having played three games less than the teams above them. Mohun Bagan meanwhile haven’t won a single game after the winter break and are lingering dangerously close to the relegation zone. United Sports Club and Mohammedan Sporting have been equally poor as they find themselves at rock bottom with only Churchill below them. Although it is the hub of Indian football, Kolkata's performance in the I-League hasn't been praiseworthy.

United SC have lost their way

The winter transfer window saw several key players exit and Eelco Schattorie's departure which has had a combined effect on their downfall. Their financial turmoil has been well recorded which eventually saw CK Vineeth and Ranti Martins look for greener pastures in Bengaluru FC and Rangdajied United respectively. Schattorie’s guided them to fourth in the league last season and his exit has had a significant effect on their overall performance in the league. The problems inside the club are definitely reflecting on their results. In their last four games, they have conceded ten goals and haven't won their last matches in the league.

Sporting are on a downhill

Sporting have lost their flair and consistency. Their title hopes are slowly slipping away after their disappointing game against Mumbai FC which ended in a 1-1 draw. They do not possess the defensive stability nor are they dominating the midfield anymore with their pass-and-move style of play. Victorino Fernandes and Beevan D’Mello have faded during the second phase of the league campaign after playing important roles for them in the Federation Cup. The Flaming Oranje need to win their matches in order to get their campaign back on traack, else they would miss out on a top three finish - which was their aim at the start of the season.

Bagan should have strengthened

Mohun Bagan should have strengthened in the winter transfer window to keep them on par with their rivals in terms of quality and depth in the squad. Every team in the winter transfer window cashed in on new recruits except East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. While East Bengal do not really need to sign players given their size and quality in squad, the same cannot be said about Karim Bencherifa's side. Teams like Salgaocar and Rangdajied are reaping benefits from their new recruits. Whether they would pay a heavy price for their gaffe, only time will tell.

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