2015-16 I-League Round 18: Survival Time!!!

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It is that sad time of the year folks, the end of the domestic league season in India... the I-League. Sadly, the I-League was not able to grip up as much as we would like, as the season started only in January and is only ending now in April, 4 months later, but that does not mean it was not worth it and fun. Lots of things have happened since the beginning of the I-League season, new faces have made themselves known, old faces have tried to recapture the audience, and new drama has unfolded.

With Bengaluru FC winning the title last weekend, the top of the table class between them and Mohun Bagan will just be seen as a rivalry match (lets be honest, it is) but what will grip many football fans is the relegation fight. Four clubs, little less than half the league, has a chance at being relegated and only three of them can really do something about it. Best of all, all three of those sides don't play against each other. This means that the relegation battle will be dependent on three of the four games this weekend, thus making for an exciting conclusion to the I-League 2015-16!

The round starts with Bengaluru FC away from home against Mohun Bagan. Mohun Bagan will be hoping to end their season on a high in front of their fans and against the team that stole their title. Bengaluru FC meanwhile might be under the charge of Ashley Westwood in league play for the final time. With both teams pretty much set for their seasons, both may decide to play a mixed squad due to AFC Cup commitments later in the week. Should be a good one regardless.

The match on Saturday that will excite fans though will be between Salgaocar and Sporting Goa. Probably the best draw for Salgaocar, facing a team with literally nothing to play for. Sporting Goa lie in 4th, with no chance of being relegated or moving up in the table at all so they could play a full youth side if they wanted. Salgaocar meanwhile need to win to secure their place in the I-League for 2016-17. Santosh Kashyap's side will be hoping to make amends for their defeat last weekend against Bengaluru FC, handing the Bangalore side the title in the process.

This will all lead up to Sunday where both games will be played simultaneously. Shillong Lajong will host East Bengal knowing that a loss will 100% relegate them. East Bengal could have motivation in this game based on the result in the Bengaluru FC-Mohun Bagan match as they could finish ahead of their arch rivals in the league. This will not be an easy one at all for Shillong Lajong who will have the battle for their life this weekend.

Mumbai FC on the other hand have a rather more tame matchup, hosting relegation free DSK Shivajians. Mumbai defeated Shillong Lajong last weekend to take them a point higher than the NorthEastern side and will find themselves in a match against another team that does not even need to try at all. Can Khalid Jamil's side pull it off or will Thangboi Singto be the one who triumphs here?

Sadly for Aizawl, their bye means that all they can do is watch but overall, they can be assured that they are safe as it is almost impossible for all 3 relegation threatened teams to win their matches this weekend.

So how will it end? Will Khalid Jamil's luck run out finally? Is it the end of I-League in Shillong? Will Salgaocar go down and reduce Goa to being a one team state* (pending on Dempo in the 2nd Division)? Let us watch and see.

Matches:
Saturday, 23 April 2016:
- Mohun Bagan vs. Bengaluru FC (Barasat Stadium).
- Salgaocar vs. Sporting Goa (Tilak Maidan Stadium).

Sunday, 24 April 2016:
- Shillong Lajong vs. East Bengal (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium).
- Mumbai vs. DSK Shivajians (Cooperage Ground).

Bye: Aizawl

MJ Song of the Week: Dapper Dan (Forever, Michael).
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