The race at the top of the table and the race for the last qualifying position shifts into overdrive as the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 steps into Matchweek 17. Fierce competition among the top five teams this season has been nothing short of a treat for all the football fans while the exhibition of determination and grit by the bottom six teams has been enthralling too.

Matchweek 17 starts with East Bengal FC taking on Chennaiyin FC for crucial points in the race for the playoffs, followed by a clash between 11th and 12th-positioned Punjab FC and Hyderabad FC respectively. Next comes the much-anticipated match between Mumbai City FC and FC Goa, with their sights set on this season's League Shield. On Thursday, it will be Odisha FC playing East Bengal FC in a battle of the Spaniards, where one team will seek redemption while the other will strive to repeat their past success. Finally, Matchweek 17 will end with a banger as Mohun Bagan Super Giants hosts in-form Jamshedpur FC.

Let's dive deep and explore the key narratives to watch out for in Matchweek 17.

Race for the sixth place heats up

East Bengal FC (9th in the League table) and Chennaiyin FC (10th in the League table) start the week as they battle for vital points. Both teams are currently tied on 15 points, having played 15 matches each this season.
This season's race for the sixth qualifying spot in the ISL has been a closely contested marathon.

Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast United FC are in the lead with just one point separating them. Following closely behind are Bengaluru FC, East Bengal FC, Chennaiyin FC, and Punjab FC. With just six points separating all six teams. Teams are being put to test as they battle it out, to secure themselves a spot in the playoffs. 

The match between East Bengal FC and Chennaiyin FC is thus a big six-pointer.

Can Hyderabad FC get their first win after ending the goal drought?

Hyderabad FC will face off against Punjab FC at home with high hopes of securing their first win of the season. This comes after they finally ended their recent goal drought in the last game against Bengaluru FC that unfortunately ended in a heartbreaking defeat for Thangboi Singto's side.
Experienced campaigners Alex Saji and Joao Victor are set to return to the line-up after serving their one-match suspension. Hyderabad FC having had a newfound vigor in their youngster-packed team, which was evident in their previous outings in Matchweek 16. They will be giving it their all in search of their first win in this season's ISL

Old rivals, new battle

Mumbai City FC play FC Goa at home in Matchweek 17, as two epic rivals dash it out to claim their right to the Shield. The two teams have an almost equally matched history in their previous encounters, Mumbai City FC just edging ahead with two victories more than the Gaurs' seven, while both having to settle for a point each seven times. The most recent memorable match was witnessed in the ISL 2022-23 season when they met at the Fatorda in a high-scoring eight-goal thriller which saw Mumbai City FC taking home the points having scored five times that evening.

The two teams have twice met in the semi-finals of the ISL with both teams winning one tie apiece. The latest chapter in this rivalry will have a fresh context of a League Shield challenge.

A repeat of Kalinga Super Cup final

Deja vu sets in as East Bengal FC face Odisha FC once again after 31 days, in a replay of the Kalinga Super Cup final. Odisha FC would be looking to cement their reign at the top of the points table while East Bengal FC are desperate for points as they brawl it out with the bottom six for the playoff spot.

Both the Spanish tacticians (Sergio Lobera and Carles Cuadrat) will be looking to build up and make amends to their plans using the knowledge gained in their previous closely-contested clash in the Kalinga Super Cup final, in which the opportunistic East Bengal FC beat the then-unbeaten Odisha side and sized the Cup.

The fortunes of the two teams have gone in different directions since with Odisha FC climbing to the top of the table while the Red and gold brigade losing ground in the playoff race. Can this encounter kickstart East Bengal FC as it brings back memories of their triumph last month or will Odisha FC fuel their League Shield charge with a dose of sweet revenge?

Jamshedpur FC's great away record under Jamil faces the sternest test against Mohun Bagan SG

Jamshedpur FC under their new head coach Khalid Jamil has been having a change of fortune. Managing to amass a total of 15 points since his arrival and without a loss in their last five matches, with a majority of those points coming on the road away from home.

Khalid Jamil and the Men of Steel are set to face their toughest challenge yet in the form of Antonio Habas and the Mariners at the Salt Lake Stadium. Mohun Bagan SG, are eyeing the league summit and will be the favorites when they host Jamshedpur FC in the final game of Matchweek 17. But Khalid Jamil's men are in red-hot form and are capable of toppling the Mariners on their own patch having already handed a similar fate to League Shield contenders Mumbai City FC a few weeks ago.