The game of football is no stranger to injuries, yet their repercussions can be deeply felt, especially when they involve a pivotal player. Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters FC serve as a prime example, as they've grappled with the aftermath of losing midfielder and captain Adrian Luna to a long-term injury back in December.

At the time of Luna's injury, the Blasters were leading the league standings, but since then, their performance has suffered, and they currently sit fifth in the table with 29 points from 18 games, trailing the leaders Mumbai City FC by 10 points.

With only four games remaining in the season and two playoff spots still up for grabs, Kerala Blasters FC remain firmly in contention. However, to secure a top spot and compete for the League Shield, they must win all their remaining matches and rely on favourable outcomes from other fixtures, a position they previously enjoyed with Luna in the squad.

Recently, ahead of their match against Mohun Bagan Super Giant, which ended in a 3-4 defeat at home, Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic provided a significant update on Luna's injury. He expects the Uruguayan midfielder to commence training with the team this month, aiming to see if he can get fit by the end of April.

This timeline aligns with the ISL playoffs, scheduled after the conclusion of the league stage. The Blasters' final league match against Hyderabad FC falls on 12th April, just two days before the league's last game between FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC. Should Kerala Blasters FC advance to the playoffs, Luna's potential return could be crucial for the team's prospects, provided he regains fitness by the end of April.

How have the Blasters fared without Luna?

Before his injury, Luna showcased why he's considered the linchpin of the team. His ability to score crucial goals and drive the team forward was evident, even amidst early-season injuries for Kerala Blasters FC. In nine league games, Luna played a pivotal role in seven goals, netting three himself and providing four assists. As the team's top scorer and leader in goal contributions, his influence was undeniable.

Analysing the team's performance with and without Luna reveals intriguing insights. During the nine games Luna featured in, the team won five matches. However, since his injury, Kerala Blasters FC have played an equal number of games, winning only four. But the disparity in results is stark. Without Luna, the team suffered five defeats out of nine matches, compared to just two losses when Luna was on the field in the first half of the season.

The recent trend highlights the impact of Luna's absence, particularly evident in the team's struggles since the league resumed in January. Out of their last six games, the Blasters only managed to secure one victory, losing five matches. This downturn points to Luna's significance and the challenge the team faces in his absence.

Beyond his on-field contributions, Luna's leadership qualities have been invaluable in the Blasters' dressing room. As one of the senior figures, his experience and guidance have undoubtedly played a crucial role in shaping the team's dynamics.

With Luna Stat Without Luna
9 Games 9
5 Wins 4
2 Draws 0
2 Losses 5
13 Goals for 13
1.4 Avg goals for 1.4
10 Goals against 13
1.1 Avg goals against 1.4
55.6% Win percentage 44.4%
1.9 Points/game 1.3

Difference maker

In Luna's absence, Kerala Blasters FC hasn't struggled to find the back of the net, thanks in large part to the impressive performance of Dimitrios Diamantakos. With 12 goals in 15 games, the Greek striker currently leads the race for the Golden Boot in the league. Additionally, Diamantakos has contributed three assists, cementing his status as the team's primary goal contributor this season.

However, despite Diamantakos's prolific form, no one has managed to replicate Luna's overall impact on the team. Luna still trails behind Diamantakos in terms of goals scored and overall goal contributions for the Blasters this season. As the team's top assist provider and leader in chances created and penalty area entries, Luna's absence has been felt.

Luna's attacking statistics Value  Ranking among teammates
Goals 3 2
Assists 4 1
Goals and assists 7 2
Chances created (including assists) 26 1
Penalty area enteries 85 1

Will he be fit in time? 

If Kerala Blasters FC secures a spot in the playoffs and find Luna fit again, it could provide a significant boost for the team. The 31-year-old midfielder has proven to be a pivotal player in the past few seasons, particularly in crucial moments and big games, showcasing his ability to make a difference when it matters most.

Luna's influence extends beyond individual matches; he has played a central role in Kerala Blasters FC's back-to-back playoff appearances in the last two seasons, a first in the club's history. With 10 goals and 13 assists across the previous two campaigns, Luna has solidified his status as a key figure under Vukomanovic. Notably, he played a vital role in guiding the team to the final during the 2021-22 season after a four-year hiatus.

Season Games Goals Assists
2021-22 23 6 7
2022-23 20 4 6
2023-24 9 3 4

Despite enduring a season marred by injuries, Kerala Blasters FC have shown resilience and are still firmly in the race for the playoffs. And Luna's potential return for the playoffs could serve as a beacon of hope for the team, reigniting their aspirations for silverware once again.