Indian Super League playoffs scenarios: Which teams will take the two remaining spots?
Bengaluru and Goa have confirmed their places in the ISL playoffs, but there's still four teams fighting it out for the two remaining spots. Who can get there and how?
TEAMS IN PLAYOFFS
Bengaluru FC (31 from 16)
Remaining: Goa (h) - Feb 21, Jamshedpur (a) - Feb 27
Jamshedpur's defeat to Pune on Saturday confirmed Bengaluru's place in the last four. While they'd still want to finish top, they can afford to experiment and rest a few regulars in their remaining fixtures. Delhi Dynamos have been irresistible since registering their first win of the season against Chennaiyin, while Goa and Jamshedpur are fighting for playoff spots. After losing to Delhi 3-2, they now need to win their next two games to guarantee top spot.
FC Goa (31 from 16)
Remaining: Bengaluru (a) - Feb 21, Chennaiyin (h) - Feb 28
A 3-0 win against Kerala confirmed Goa's place in the playoffs. If they beat Bengaluru on February 21, they will finish the regular season on top. Goa will hope that their talisman Coro and Edu Bedia maintain their brilliant form through the remaining games.
TEAMS IN CONTENTION
NorthEast United (28 from 17)
Remaining: Kerala (a) - Mar 1
NorthEast missed out on a chance to confirm their place in the playoffs for the first time after a draw with Pune. The result may just turn out to be enough to take them there, provided Jamshedpur fail to win either of their remaining matches. If the latter fail to do so, NEUFC can travel to Kerala for their final league stage game with a playoff spot already guaranteed. But if Jamshedpur win both their remaining games (on Feb 23 and 27), NorthEast will then need a win in Kochi on March 1.
Mumbai City (27 from 16)
Remaining: ATK (a) - Feb 22, Pune City (a) - Mar 2
A 2-0 defeat to NorthEast United at home put Mumbai's playoff hopes in a little bit of peril, but Jamshedpur's loss to Pune means they will still be guaranteed a place in top four with just one win. Since bringing Bengaluru's unbeaten streak to a halt with a 1-0 win in January, they have lost three games on the trot, and importantly two of them have come against teams bidding to displace them from the top four. They haven't scored in any of these matches, and that could be fatal unless they shore up their defence in their two remaining games, both away against ATK and Pune, both desperate to end the season with as many wins as possible, and both still in with a mathematical chance of making the playoffs. NorthEast's draw against Pune also means that if Mumbai win both their remaining games, they can finish third.
Jamshedpur (23 from 16)
Remaining: Chennaiyin (a) - Feb 23, Bengaluru (h) - Feb 27
Jamshedpur's playoff hopes suffered a big blow with a 4-1 loss at home against Pune. The trip to Chennai next up doesn't make it any easier. But if they win there, and since Bengaluru have already qualified and may rest a few of their regulars in the last game, Jamshedpur may still have a chance. NorthEast United also did them a favour, as their draw against Pune in the penultimate game now means that if Jamshedpur win both games and NEUFC drop points in their final game against Kerala, they will be guaranteed a place in the playoffs.
ATK (21 points from 16 games)
Remaining matches: Mumbai City (h) - Feb 22, Delhi Dynamos (h) - Mar 3
For the two-time champions to have any hopes of qualifying, they need to win each of their remaining two games, hope that Mumbai don't pick up a single point and that Jamshedpur drop points in at least one of their remaining games. That's a lot of variables, but two home matches to finish with should add an extra motivation, and the addition of Edu Garcia to the midfield could make them a bigger threat going forward.