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As the season enters the final quarter, Goal has a look at the title race in the I-League for the 2013-14 campaign...

Following the completion of game week 25, the title race heats up in the I-League with two teams vying for the silverware – Bengaluru FC and East Bengal. Salgaocar FC too have an outside chance should the All India Football Federation (AIFF) choose to reverse their decision and hand the deducted point back.

First, let’s have a look at the rules of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) based on which teams will be separated. According to the regulations, the team ranking shall be determined in the order given below:

a) Higher number of points in all the matches.

b) If the sides have the same points, then, the result of the matches (head-to-head) between the concerned teams will be taken into account. The team securing more points from those encounters will be placed higher.

c) Furthermore, if the teams draw their head-to-head record as well, the team having a higher goal difference will be placed higher.

d) If the teams have the exact same goal difference, the team with the higher number of goals scored will be placed higher.

e) If the sides cannot be separated even then, the ranking shall be decided by having a play-off match between the concerned teams at a neutral venue. The team that wins this play-off match – in case of two teams tied on top - will be the Champion.

Here's a look at the statistics of the teams involved in title contention.

Team

Position

Pld

Points

GS

GD

Form

Leading Scorer

Bengaluru FC

1st

22

41

37

13

W-D-L-W-W

Sunil Chhetri(14)

East Bengal

2nd

23

40

36

9

W-L-W-W-W

Edeh Chidi (10)


Let’s have a look at each team separately:

BENGALURU FC

Still to play: Dempo SC (away) and Sporting Clube de Goa (away)

The Blues are having an outstanding campaign in their first ever season as they occupy the top spot on the table. Having won 7 out of their 12 games at Bangalore, their season has been built around a strong home record. However, they have recovered from the early struggles away from home and have recorded a 50% win record in the 10 matches on the road.

The table toppers do sit pretty with 41 points in their kitty, four more than their nearest contenders but they do have the one of the toughest run-ins. However the confident win over Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium last weekend has certainly put them in the driver's seat in the race to win the title.

They have a sojourn in Goa as they take on Dempo and Sporting Goa. Dempo have been in decent form recently since the resumption of the I-League while Sporting have ended their slump by picking up an away win at Rangdajied United and also managed a point against Churchill Brothers and Salgaocar FC.

What Bengaluru need to do now especially after East Bengal's slip up against Churchill Brothers is to win one of their next two games.


EAST BENGAL

Still to play:   United SC (away but in Kolkata)

While East Bengal managed to beat Pune FC at home with ease the slip up against Churchill Brothers might just cost them dearly in their desire to bring the title back to Kolkata. This has put East Bengal at 37 points from 22 matches. 

The only way they can catch up to the table toppers is to hope that both Sporting clube de Goa and Dempo hold Bengaluru while they win both their matches. 

Depending on Bengaluru's results, East Bengal might scrape through with a draw and a win too if Bengaluru fail to pick up even a solitary point from their Goa sojourn which is highly unlikely to say the least. 

They did manage to eke out a vital away win against Pune FC which has still kept them alive and are just a point behin Bengaluru FC having played a game less. All their eyes will be on Dempo SC as Armando Colaco prays that his former team stops the Bengaluru juggernaut for them to still have hopes for the title. 


WHO IN YOUR OPINION has the best chance to win the title this season? Let us know by leaving a comment or tweeting to us @Goal_India 

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