Tuesday, 23/08/2022 08:13

Three things we’ve learned at the V.League’s halfway mark

Hà Nội FC are back to winning ways this season. Photo

Peter Cowan

Hard as it may be to believe, we’re already halfway through the 2022 V.League 1 season.

The bizarre early season monthslong break is a big part of why it doesn’t exactly feel like we’re this deep into the season, but nevertheless, every team has played 12 matches and we have a better idea of where they fit into the league.

With that in mind, here are three things we’ve learned at the halfway mark.

Hà Nội FC leading the pack

After a rough couple of years by their lofty standards, Hà Nội FC are firmly back on top.

The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the capital side’s dominance: nine points clear at the top, the most goals scored and the fewest conceded.

Unlike in previous years though, Hà Nội aren’t exactly blowing their opponents away. Instead, they’ve been racking up one-goal victories over their rival title contenders, which to me is a sign of a professional team of winners, who know how to get over the line.

I expect the purple machine to keep on rolling towards yet another title, their first since the departure of talisman Nguyễn Quang Hải.

Tight near the top

While it is a shame that we likely won’t have a proper title race to watch as the second half of the season unfolds, the battle for second place should provide plenty of thrills.

Just a single point separates the clubs placed from second to sixth and it’s a real mix of teams jockeying for position.

New-money players Bình Định and Sông Lam Nghệ An are tied on 20 points with the resurgent Hải Phòng, while more traditional heavyweights Hoàng Anh Gia Lai and Viettel are just a point behind on 19.

It’s anyone’s guess as to how this logjam will shake out but what’s certain is second place is a real prize. For one thing, it’s a platform to build on ahead of next season and for another more practical reason, I would guess the players who secure second will receive a decent bonus from their club.

I’ll put my neck on the line and say Bình Định make second place their own, as the addition of goalkeeper Đặng Văn Lâm should help shore up what has been a porous defence.

Sayonara, Sài Gòn.

Bottom placed-Sài Gòn FC may only be three points away from Nam Định in 12th, but they have a mountain to climb.

A staggering 26 goals conceded in just 12 games tells its own story. Even if the men in pink had a world class forward line, no team can pick up many points when they ship at least two goals every game.

The other thing playing against them is Nam Định’s raucous home support will surely pick them up a few unearned points between now and the end of the season, whereas Sài Gòn struggle to get fans through the turnstiles at all.

Sadly, I can’t see Sài Gòn pulling themselves out of this predicament and the V.League 2 beckons. VNS

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