It feels like only yesterday the fifth season of the Indian Super League – the premier football tournament in the country – kicked off. We are now almost in December, and officially halfway through the group stages. And the ISL points table is starting to shape up with a bit of permanence about the leaders.

Top 3

It won’t be surprising to anyone if Sunil Chhetri’s Bengaluru FC once again top the league table by a country mile for the second year in a row. The toppers have played only 7 games – compared to others’ 8 or 9 – so far and have won 6 of them. With 19 out of a possible 21 points, you can say that the playoffs are already within reach midway through the group stages. Such has been the dominance of a team whose only mistake last season ended up costing them the title.

Most heartwarming is the emergence of NorthEast United as a genuine contender at the top after four seasons of mediocrity. 5 victories in 8 games – including a recent solid 2-0 away to a hopeless Pune City – has seen them leapfrog early favourites FC Goa into second place. The two teams will likely fight for second and third place in the table even in the second half of the season. This makes the football game between the two teams on December 14th in Goa perhaps the most important of the month.

Battle for 4th Place

Three teams right now are in contention for the final playoff spot. Much may change, of course, over the next few months – but the erratic form of Jamshedpur (they fell to their first defeat of the season to Pune City and then demolished Chennaiyin FC four days later) and the impressive consistency of Mumbai City after their disastrous start have made these two the most fascinating teams playing right now. ATK, too, has recovered after a slow start, and stands 3 points behind the two teams after 8 games. It’s safe to say that the battle will remain between these three teams because the ‘bottom 4’ have some serious issues…

Bottom 4

Surprisingly, the Kerala Blasters have been pulled into the basement. Between them, defending champs Chennaiyin, Pune City and perpetual underperformers Delhi Dynamos, only 3 ISL games have been won while a whopping 20 have been lost so far. 11 draws haven’t done them any favours. Chennaiyin have probably suffered more than ATK did last season as defending champions, while Pune City just can’t seem to get their act together despite pulling off an upset over Jamshedpur last week.

Here are some interesting numbers at the midway stage of the ISL 2018-19 season:

18 – number of goals scored by Jamshedpur FC so far in their 9 games. Last season, they scored a total of 17 in 18 games.

17 – number of points NorthEast United has earned this season so far in just 8 games. Last season, they managed a paltry total of 11 points (with just 3 wins) in 18 games. They already have 5 wins this season. If ever there was a turnaround, this is it.

6 – number of games lost by Chennaiyin out of 8 this season so far. Last season, they only lost a total of 4 in the entire group stage, finishing second behind Bengaluru FC.

5 – number of clean sheets by Mumbai City so far in their 8 games. Yet, they have conceded 8 goals in their other 3 games, including a 5-0 mauling to FC Goa.

8 – number of goals scored so far by Golden Boot leaders Ferran Corominas and Bartholomew Ogbeche in their 8 games. The entire teams of Mumbai City, ATK and Delhi Dynamos have scored 7 goals each in their games so far.

5 – number of goals conceded by Golden Glove leader Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for Bengaluru so far in 7 games. There is at the moment no better goalie in the country.