The sixth edition of the Indian Super League came to a close on Saturday with ATK beating Chennaiyin FC 3-1 in the final at Goa’s Fatorda stadium to clinch a record third ISL title.

Antonio Habas became the first manager to win the ISL title twice having guided ATK to their first triumph in 2014. The victory earned ATK a place in next season’s AFC Cup after AIFF announced a spot for the ISL champion.

FC Goa finished the league stage as winners becoming the first winners of the League winners’ shield. But more importantly, they became the first team from India to qualify for the AFC Champions League group stages after India were awarded a spot with the tournament expanding from 16 to 24 teams.

ATK finished in second place after the league phase, just ahead of Bengaluru FC as Chennaiyin made a remarkable recovery after a poor start to qualify for the playoffs after finishing fourth.

Newcomers Hyderabad FC had a season to forget after finishing bottom of the table with just 10 points on the board. NorthEast United and Jamshedpur FC saw promising starts to their seasons fade away as they fell well short of semi-final qualification.

Odisha FC, after changing its name from Delhi Dynamos and shifting their base to Bhubaneswar looked good to secure a place in the semi-finals but were pipped by the rampant Chennaiyin side in the end.

Here are the key numbers for all teams this season.

ISL 2019-20 (Teams statistics)

Teams Matches Played Wins Draws Losses Goals scored Goals conceded Clean Sheets
FC Goa 20 13 3 4 51 29 5
ATK 21 12 4 5 39 19 9
Bengaluru FC 20 9 6 5 25 16 11
Chennaiyin FC 20 9 5 7 39 34 4
Mumbai City FC 18 7 5 6 25 29 4
Odisha FC 18 7 4 7 28 31 4
Kerala Blasters 18 4 7 7 29 32 3
Jamshedpur FC 18 4 6 8 22 35 2
NorthEast United 18 2 8 8 16 30 3
Hyderanad FC 18 2 4 12 21 39 0

FC Goa’s tally of 51 goals is the best-ever return by a team in a single season. However, they fell one short of the highest points tally after the league stage in ISL history. Goa finished with 39 points, while Bengaluru FC in their debut season in 2017-18 had 40 points.

Hyderabad FC avoided the embarrassment of recording the lowest-ever points tally in ISL history with their 5-1 win over NorthEast United on the final day. They managed ten points this season, just one point better than what Chennaiyin managed in 2018-19.

However, the newcomers became the first-ever team in the competition’s history to fail to keep a single clean sheet all season. In addition, the 39 goals they conceded this season is the worst defensive performance by a team in a single season.

Bengaluru FC may not have had the best of seasons having failed to reach the final for the first time in the ISL since joining in 2017. However, their 1.66 points per game average this season makes it the best performance by a defending champion in the ISL, narrowly beating ATK in 2015.

Performance of defending champions in ISL

Season Defending Champion Points per game League position
2015  ATK 1.64 2nd (8 teams)
2016 Chennaiyin FC 1.07 7th (8 teams)
2017-18 ATK 0.88 9th (10 teams)
2018-19 Chennaiyin FC 0.5 10th (10 teams)
2019-20 Bengaluru FC 1.66 3rd (10 teams)

Most prolific season

The 2019-20 season was the most prolific one in ISL history with 294 goals being scored in the competition. FC Goa contributed a staggering 17.34% of those goals while defending champions ATK and runners-up Chennaiyin both accounted for 13.26% of the goals scored.

However, in comparison to the 2018-19 campaign, 38 more goals were scored this season, a 15% increase. The gap between the top-scoring team (FC Goa) and the lowest-scoring team (NorthEast United though was 35 goals, the most in a single ISL season.

Here is how the 2019-20 season compares to previous campaigns in terms of goals scored.

Goal comparison (All seasons)

Season Total goals scored Goals per game
2019-20 294 3.09
2018-19 256 2.69
2017-18 261 2.74
2016 (8 teams) 145 2.37
2015 (8 teams) 186 3.04
2014 (8 teams) 129 2.11
Since 2017-18 season, two more teams were added to make it a ten-team competition

Indian goals shrink

Even though the overall number of goals increased in the 2019-20 campaign, the number of goals scored by Indians dipped considerably, much to the worry of Indian football fans.

No Indian player managed to get into double figures this season with only Sunil Chhetri featuring among the top ten goalscorers.

Top ten goalscorers in 2019-20 ISL

Rank Player Team Matches Played Goals Scored
1 Bartholomew Ogbeche Kerala Blasters 16 15
2 Nerijus Valskis Chennaiyin FC 20 15
3 Roy Krishna ATK 21 15
4 Ferran Corominas FC Goa 17 14
5 Hugo Boumous FC Goa 15 11
6 Aridane Santana Odisha FC 14 9
7 Sunil Chhetri Bengaluru FC 17 9
8 Messi Bouli Kerala Blasters 17 8
9 Manuel Onwu Odisha FC 10 7
10 Sergio Castel Jamshedpur FC 11 7
Indian players are marked in bold

Indians managed just 72 goals among themselves this season, compared to 89 in 2018-19, a 20% drop. Overall, in terms of the percentage of goals scored by Indian players, the 2019-20 season ranks fourth among the six campaigns so far.

However, in terms of the number of Indian goalscorers, the 2019-20 season saw the highest tally of all campaigns so far. It doesn’t count much of a positive as it didn’t reflect in the number of goals scored.

Performance of Indian goalscorers (All seasons)

Season Goals scored by Indian players Percentage of total goals scored Number of Indian goalscorers
2019-20 72 24.48 43
2018-19 89 34.76 40
2017-18 74 28.35 30
2016 34 23.44 21
2015 45 24.19 20
2014 26 20.15 19
The ISL had eight teams from 2014-16 and ten teams from 2017 onwards

Not clinical, but creative

The Indian players may have had a season to forget in terms of putting the ball in the back of the net, but they did a fine job in creating goals for their teammates.

Four local players made it to the top ten assists chart for the 2019-20 campaign. In the 2018-19 season, there was no Indian player in the top ten. Only the opening season in 2014 saw five Indian players make it to the top assists chart.

Top ten assist-makers in 2019-20 ISL

Rank Player Team Matches Played Assists
1 Hugo Boumous FC Goa 15 10
2 Rafael Crivellaro Chennaiyin 20 8
3 Brandon Fernandes FC Goa 17 7
4 Nerijus Valskis Chennaiyin 20 6
5 Anirudh Thapa Chennaiyin 20 6
6 Roy Krishna ATK 21 6
7 Erik Paartalu Bengaluru FC 17 5
8 Jerry Mawihmingthanga Odisha FC 17 5
9 David Williams ATK 18 5
10 Jessel Carneiro Kerala Blasters 18 5
Indian players are marked in bold

This season, Indians made 89 assists in total compared to just 70 last season and 73 in 2017-18. The percentage of total assists made by Indian players also increased. The bigger positive aspect from the Indian perspective is that the percentage of the total assists contributed by Indians has been rising since the first season.

Assist record of Indian players (All seasons)

Season Number of assists Percentage of total assists
2019-20 89 44.72
2018-19 70 42.16
2017-18 73 43.45
2016 29 26.60
2015 45 33.58
2014 28 42.42
The ISL had eight teams from 2014-16 and ten teams from 2017 onwards

Defensive struggles

With the increase in the number of goals, it is obvious that the defences didn’t perform to the expected levels in 2019-20. Expectedly, the clean sheet count dropped compared to last season.

Clean Sheet record in ISL (All seasons)

Season Number of clean sheets Number of games per one clean sheet
2019-20 45 2.11
2018-19 52 1.82
2017-18 51 1.86
2016 34 1.79
2015 28 2.17
2014 47 1.29
The ISL had eight teams from 2014-16 and ten teams from 2017 onwards

Less technical, more physical?

Analysing the parameters that influence the general gameplay adopted by teams this season, two things stood out. The average passes per game dropped to its lowest tally in the 2019-20 campaign, while the average tackles per game rose to its highest tally in the competition’s history.

It comes as a bit of a surprise considering the profile of coaches on display in the ISL with five hailing from Spain, one each from Portugal, Croatia and Netherlands. However, the bosses seemed to have adopted their styles to the players at their disposal than impose their purist ways on the team.

In terms of use of the wide areas in the attack, the average crosses per game had been on a steady decline since the second season, but the tally rose by two crosses per game in the 2019-20 campaign.

Passing, tackling and crossing records in ISL

Season Average passes per game Average tackles per game Average crosses per game
2019-20 757 64 25
2018-19 831 50 23
2017-18 857 48 26
2016 775 40 31
2015 794 58 34
2014 811 39 35
The ISL had eight teams from 2014-16 and ten teams from 2017 onwards

The number of bookings also point towards an added physicality in the ISL this season with 2019-20 campaign seeing the highest number of red and yellow cards.

A red card was shown once in almost four matches this season, compared to one in nine last campaign. In terms of the yellow cards, the season average was just over four yellow cards per game.

Red card record in ISL (All seasons)

Season Number of red cards Number of minutes per every red card shown
2019-20 22 389
2018-19 16 534
2017-18 20 428
2016 15 366
2015 8 686
2014 14 392
The ISL had eight teams from 2014-16 and ten teams from 2017 onwards

Yellow card record in ISL (All seasons)

Season Number of yellow cards Average yellow cards per game
2019-20 396 4.16
2018-19 356 3.75
2017-18 337 3.54
2016 253 4.14
2015 247 4.04
2014 225 3.68