The ultimate contest of a highly-entertaining season is set to be an electrifying clash of two giants.
What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? We are set to find out after the final of the Indian Super League 2022-23 which will see ATK Mohun Bagan face Bengaluru FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on 18 March 2023. While the waves crash on the beaches of scenic Goa, there will be a clashing of quality players on the pitch for the ISL trophy and the title of champions.
Both outfits boast high-profile individual players who can change the complexion of a game single-handedly. The head coaches in both camps will be burning the midnight oil in order to conjure up a strategy that will give their respective teams an edge in the ultimate fixture for the ISL 2022-23 season.
Here is a look at the three keys to success for both ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC.
ATK Mohun Bagan
Utilise Hugo Boumous efficiently
Hugo Boumous is not 100% match fit at the moment. It is not a well-kept secret that the attacker is not going to last for 90 minutes or more if the match heads into extra time. In such a scenario, either ATKMB can start with Federico Gallego or play on the front foot when Hugo Boumous is on the pitch. The playmaker has the quality to unlock tight defences but Juan Ferrando must use him smartly.
Containing Javier Hernandez
Javier Hernandez is the leading goalscorer for Bengaluru FC with seven goals heading into the final. He will be the biggest threat to ATK Mohun Bagan and the side needs to make plans in order to contain him. The Spaniard has the tendency to make late runs into the box, hit accurate shots from range, and hurt opposition from set-piece situations. Someone like Carl McHugh will play a major role in keeping a tight grip on Hernandez.
Work on finishing under pressure
Creating chances is not a problem for ATK Mohun Bagan as much as finishing them. Juan Ferrando looks visibly frustrated whenever a scoring chance does not lead to a goal. The wingers Manvir Singh and Liston Colaco must capitalize on opportunities. Better quality in the final third is a major key to success for the Mariners.
Avoid fouls in the goalmouth area
It is not a secret that ATK Mohun Bagan have brilliant set-piece takers such as Dimitri Petratos and Hugo Boumous. Giving away too many fouls in the goalmouth area will invite a lot of danger for the Blues. In fact, the side must avoid giving away too many corners kicks as Petratos delivers accurate crosses and the Mariners have several towering players that can latch on to them.
Deny space to ATKMB wingers
Juan Ferrando relies on his wingers to provide width and make space for the midfielders to exploit. Players like Asish Rai and Subhasish Bose also love to make forward runs and cause problems on the flanks. Bengaluru FC wing-backs need to track back and provide support while defending. Simon Grayson must keep his players focused on limiting the influence of players like Manvir Singh and Liston Colaco.
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Provide quality service to Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri loves to turn up on the big stage and the final fixture is the perfect opportunity for him to repeat his performances of late. The skipper scored the winning goal with a header against Mumbai City FC in the first leg of the semi-final. It remains to be seen if the head coach starts with Chhetri or sends him to make an impact from the bench. Whenever he steps onto the pitch, BFC players must provide quality deliveries to him. Despite his age and height, Chhetri is a brilliant header of the ball and is precise with his finishing from inside the box.
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