As we enter the final Matchweek of the league stage, the excitement and intensity is palpable. Except for Jamshedpur FC, all teams will be in action, eager to conclude the league stage on a positive note.

The race for the League Shield and the last playoff spot remains fiercely contested. Mumbai City FC currently lead the table with a five-point advantage, but Mohun Bagan Super Giant is hot on their heels, eyeing the top spot. Meanwhile, East Bengal FC and Chennaiyin FC are locked in a battle for the final playoff berth, with FC Goa also in contention for a top-two finish.

For the teams already out of playoff contention, this Matchweek presents an opportunity to end the season on a high note and salvage some pride. With so much at stake, the upcoming Matchweek promises to be pivotal, also offering fans a glimpse into who will ultimately claim the League Shield.

With that, here are some key storylines to keep an eye on as we approach the conclusion of the league stage.

Make or break week for Mohun Bagan SG

Mohun Bagan SG finds themselves in a pivotal position heading into Matchweek 22, where they are set to play two crucial matches in their quest for the League Shield. Their first encounter sees them on the road against Bengaluru FC, followed closely by a showdown against the league leaders, Mumbai City FC.

The significance of the Bengaluru FC clash cannot be overstated for Mohun Bagan SG. Anything less than a victory would essentially gift-wrap the League Shield for Mumbai City FC. Bengaluru FC, particularly under the leadership of new head coach Gerard Zaragoza, have been a formidable force at home, boasting an unbeaten streak of five games with four wins to their credit. Despite being out of the playoff picture, Bengaluru FC will be driven to end their campaign on a high note, especially on their home turf, which has historically been a fortress for them.

Should Mohun Bagan SG emerge triumphant against Bengaluru FC, they will be faced with the challenge of a quick turnaround as they prepare to host Mumbai City FC just four days later. Meanwhile, their opponents will have had the luxury of a full week's rest since their previous fixture against Odisha FC. This scheduling disparity adds an extra layer of complexity to Mohun Bagan SG's task, heightening the stakes as they strive to seize control of their own destiny in the pursuit of the League Shield.

Nail-biting fight for the final playoff spot

With Punjab FC, Bengaluru FC, and NorthEast United FC's playoff dreams dashed following their recent defeats in Matchweek 21, attention now narrows to just two teams vying for the final playoff berth: Chennaiyin FC and East Bengal FC. Both teams have showcased impressive form in recent matches, securing crucial victories to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Currently, Chennaiyin FC holds the advantage in the race for the last playoff spot, occupying the sixth position in the league standings with 27 points from 21 matches. They maintain a three-point lead over East Bengal FC, putting their playoff destiny firmly within their control. Both teams have one remaining fixture, both away from home, with Chennaiyin FC facing FC Goa and East Bengal FC taking on Punjab FC in a closed-door encounter.

For East Bengal FC to clinch their first-ever ISL playoff berth, they must secure a victory against Punjab FC while simultaneously hoping for a slip-up from Chennaiyin FC against FC Goa. In the event of both scenarios unfolding, resulting in both teams finishing level on points, East Bengal FC would advance to the knockout stage by virtue of their superior head-to-head record against Chennaiyin FC. This prospect sets the stage for a captivating Matchweek for fans and neutrals alike.

FC Goa’s chase for the top-two spot 

After Odisha FC's loss to Mumbai City FC dashed FC Goa's hopes of clinching the Shield, the Gaurs will be setting their sights on securing a top-two finish in the table with just one game remaining.

FC Goa has spent the most days at the top of the table this season, leading for a total of 57 days. However, a recent string of three consecutive defeats in February saw them slip down the league standings.

Their chances of securing a top-two finish hinge on the results of second-placed Mohun Bagan SG, who still have two matches to play. If Mohun Bagan SG drop points in both of their fixtures and FC Goa triumph in their final game against Chennaiyin FC, the Gaurs will leapfrog the Kolkata side into second place.

This would guarantee FC Goa a spot in the semi-finals without having to compete in a one-legged knockout fixture. Additionally, it would afford them the luxury of extra time for preparation and rest ahead of the semi-final clash.

With Chennaiyin FC also battling to secure a playoff berth, the upcoming match against FC Goa promises to be one of the most exciting clashes of Matchweek 21. Previous encounters between the two sides have been characterised by drama and entertainment, often featuring a flurry of goals. Given their history, spectators at the Fatorda Stadium could anticipate an exhilarating showdown.