I-League 2017 - Aizawl FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the great title run-in

The horizon that seemed aeons away in January 2017 is now within eyesight and fast approaching. The twilight of the 2017 I-League season is upon us. The dense smog around the future of the I-League title is nowclearing and there remain three contendersready for a battle royale as the sun sets on India's premier domestic league.

Before we look closer at the fixtures that lie ahead of the three teams, a glance at the points table is enough to explain how even poised the three contenders areto become the conquerors of the Indian football landscape. It's worth noting that, unlike many European Leagues, I-Legaue uses head-to-head record to break ties before looking into goal difference.

Team Matches Points Head-to-head
Aizawl FC 14 30 Win against EB, loss against MB
East Bengal 14 27 Loss against Aizawl, Draw vs MB
Mohun Bagan 13 26 Win against Aizawl, Draw vs EB


AIZAWL FC

Aizawl FC Mumbai FC I-League 2017

It's been an I-League campaign filled with minutiae of surprises. Thestandout storyso far has been the rise and rise of Mizoram's lone I-League representatives, Aizawl. The Reds will be breaking boundaries and ceilingsif they were to capture their first ever top-flight title, three weeks from this weekend.

Now, with just three games remaining they face a tricky tripto the Kanteerva stadium, Bengaluru, to face the eponymously named champions -a side who they will be deposing from the throne were a successful campaign resulted in a crowning end.

Maximum points available: 12

Opponents: Bengaluru(A), Churchill Brothers (A), Mohun Bagan (H), Shillong Lajong (A)

Results against them in reverse fixtures:

Aizawl FC vs Bengaluru FC 1-1 (D)
Aizawl FC vs Churchill Brothers 3-1 (W)
Mohun Bagan vs Aizawl FC 3-2 (L)
Aizawl FC vs Shillong Lajong 2-1 (W)

Note:Khalid Jamil has led his team on ajourney many scarcely believed will be achievable. He, however, will need to quell any excitement of title talk within his team's ranks and instil a sense of optimistic belief. Of the three teams in the title race, Aizawl FC have arguably the toughest run-in. They need to remain unbeaten in the next four games and hope for at least two wins. But even that may not be enough.

MOHUN BAGAN

Balwant Singh Sony Norde Mohun Bagan Mumbai FC I-League 2017

The Mariners have smelt blood around the road to the title and will have prepped themselves for a final assault. After humiliating thedefending champions in Kolkata last weekend, Sanjoy Sen will be keen to add another I-League trophy into the cabinet.

Injuries plague Bagan ahead of derby

Maximum points available: 15

Opponents:East Bengal (H), Shillong Lajong(A), Minerva Punjab (A), Aizawl FC(A), Chennai City (H)

Results against them in reverse fixtures:

East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan 0-0 (D)
Mohun Bagan vs Shillong Lajong 2-0 (W)
Mohun Bagan vs Minerva Punjab 4-0 (W)
Mohun Bagan vs Aizawl 3-2 (W)
Chennai City vs Mohun Bagan 1-2 (W)

There remains the small matter of the I-League's famed Kolkata derby against The Red and Golds that Bagan have to negotiate. Also, they have a game against Aizawl coming up but the Maroon and Green Brigade have a game in hand over their fellow rivals. If they were to win the game at the cost of The Reds from Mizoram, then the I-League's silverware could be set for Kolkata.

The team from the Bengal capital have form on their side, recapturing their goal-scoring guile with six hitting the back of the net in their last two games.

EAST BENGAL

Bengaluru FC East Bengal I-League 2017

The Red and Golds looked to be cruising towards the I-League title at one point but back-to-back losses before the recent international break saw them surrender their advantage back to Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan who have a game in hand to boot. East Bengal's chances of landing their first-ever I-League title might not be in their hands, unless their rivals slip up.

Maximum points available: 12

Opponents: Mohun Bagan (A), DSK Shivajians (H), Minerva Punjab (H), Mumbai FC (A)

Results against them in reverse fixtures:

East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan 0-0 (D)
DSK Shivajians vs East Bengal 1-2 (W)
Minerva Punjab vs East Bengal 0-5 (W)
East Bengal vs Mumbai FC 2-0 (W)

Morgan: Players do not have enough pride

While East Bengal have a tough derby coming straight up, they have three relatively easy outings to end the league and with Aizawl and Mohun Bagan facing each other later. That might give hope to Trevor Morgan and co, but they need to make their games against smaller teams count. Most importantly, they cannot commit the follies they made against the likes of Churchill Brothers and Chennai City FC recently.

Points
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