Few would have thought Hanoi, runners-up last season and champions for two consecutive years (2018 and 2019) may have to fight relegation. Throughout 12 games, they only scored 16 points with five wins and six losses. In seventh position, they are only one point away from the top six, which will be separated into another group to race for the title after the season’s first leg. But even a win in the last game of the first leg this week does not guarantee Hanoi a spot there.
Competing with Hanoi for the spot are Topenland Binh Dinh and SHB Da Nang, also with 16 points. Placing above Hanoi are Becamex Binh Duong and Thanh Hoa FC with 17 points, plus Nam Dinh FC (18 points). If all three clubs prove victorious in the next round, Hanoi can wave goodbye to the title.
Competition for a spot in the top six is tight, since even clubs from 10th to 12th position like Hong Linh Ha Tinh, HCMC FC and Hai Phong FC theoretically still have a chance to make it into the group, with the condition that all teams placing above them lose in the next round.
Hanoi, so far, have experienced a rough season. An injury storm and suspensions have stripped them of key players, making it impossible to field their best formation in the first few games. Despite switching coaches twice in only a short time, Hanoi still have to regain their composure.
But with only one match left in the first leg, on May 7, there is little time to take it slow for Hanoi. The club must beat bottom team Song Lam Nghe An and hope one of the teams above them would slip.
In the second leg of V. League this year, the top six teams of the first leg will compete for the title in table A, while the last eight battle to avoid relegation in table B.