An alternative look at the Hero ISL finalists

Kerala Blasters FC David James

The inaugural edition of the Hero Indian Super League is all set for a thrilling climax, with Atlético de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters FC facing off with the chance to make history by becoming the first champions of the ISL. Having looked at the overall statistics for both sides here picks out some more key stats that could have a bearing on the match:  

Kerala Blasters FC

Kerala’s strike-force has been one of the lower-scoring units in the league, even accounting for the four goals they scored against Chennaiyin over the two semi-final legs. There are two stats which offer clues to why the Blasters attack has been misfiring. Firstly, they lead the league with the highest number of offsides (43), which highlights a comparative lack of cohesion between the various components of the attack. 

Shockingly, Kerala have also yet to earn a penalty in 16 games, even though they lead the league in crosses. Although this might seem like bad luck, it also indicates that Kerala’s attack seems to spend less time with the ball in the opposition penalty area or their attackers can’t draw defenders into fouls. 

Kerala’s defence is however top class. Underpinning the strength at this end is the play of goalkeepers David James and Sandip Nandy (and, briefly in the second leg semi-final, Luis Barreto). The Kerala custodians lead the league in save percentage, having saved 81.8% of opposition shots on target. Kolkata’s attack will have to be at their sharpest to breach the Blasters’ goal.

Atlético de Kolkata

Atlético de Kolkata


Atlético de Kolkata’s season has been similar to Kerala’s in terms of numbers and style; they are a counter-attacking side relying on defensive solidity. Stacking a few statistics up directly against Kerala offers an insight into how the final may play out. Firstly, Kolkata have won the highest number of penalties in the league. More importantly, however, they have a 100% success rate from their spot-kicks, having converted all four penalties they have earned (coincidentally, they were also four from four in their penalty shoot-out against Goa in the semi-final).

Kerala’s defensive discipline will be tested against the Kolkata attacking unit. Given that the final is likely to be a game of few goals as strong defences are involved, Kerala player-head coach James’ charges will have to ensure that they do not concede any spot kicks to their rivals.  

Another point which may decide the outcome of the final is Kolkata’s goal conversion rate. Though the Antonio López Habas-coached side have the fewest shots (163) and shots on target (81) in the league, they have the second-highest goal conversion rate among the eight teams, having scored from nearly 20% of their shots on target. This sets up an enticing battle against whoever starts in goal for Kerala – as mentioned earlier, Kerala have the highest save percentage in the league. Something’s got to give.

One more key statistic which highlights Kolkata’s counterattacking style is their ball possession. On average, they have had 46.63% of possession, the lowest mark in the league. This means that defence-oriented Kerala will likely see more of the ball than usual, and they will have to remedy some of their attacking issues in order to make their possession count. 

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