Bengaluru and Chennaiyin brace for 'Great Indian Southern Showdown' in ISL finale
Written by: Sabin Castelino
The Blues have reached the final at the first time of trying and will take on former champions Marina Machans.
Chennaiyin FC, on the other hand, are not easy customers and will rely on their squad depth and charisma to push for a second title in three years. Incidentally, this is the second time they take on a home team in the finals and have a record of beating the home team to win their maiden title, beating FC Goa in 2015
The visiting Chennai club will be riding on their high form and will look to decimate Bengaluru in their own backyard which the West Block Blues will hope to prevent by playing the 12th man.
To get to know what’s at stake, we need to understand the basics of the ISL. Eight franchises became 10 and one of the new ones is already challenging for the crown which is much more valuable now.
Bengaluru FC have played in the AFC Cup for almost all seasons of their existence spare the first. In the last five years, they have been successful both at the continental and national levels. This ISL championship means a lot more to them than other franchisees as they would like to challenge for continental glory again next season.
Chennaiyin on the other hand, are bidding to win their second title in three seasons and will join ATK as the most successful team in the league's history if they can do so. The Marina Machans are also one of the only two teams to beat the Blues in their own den this season, with the other being Jamshedpur FC.
But, both clubs understand the magnitude of the match and have crazed followings who will want nothing but a win in the finale which also turns out to be the Cauvery Derby as the fans have named it.
For Bengaluru FC the squad that is headlined by Miku and Sunil Chhetri picks itself. Juanan and John Johnson will provide strength at the back while Udanta Singh will supply the pace to the attack. Lenny Rodrigues will look to influence the midfield and his timely tackles might prove to be the difference for the Blues side.
Albert Roca knows how to get results in tight games and will rely greatly on the men he knows will churn out the result in style and flair and will not leave the audience wanting. Chhetri’s form is going to be a blessing for them and if Miku turns up on the big day, then there will be goals flowing.
But, let's not write off the former champions as they seem to pose a credible threat thanks to a strong midfield setup and their star man Jeje Lalpekhlua being on fire! Chennaiyin have a tactical master in the form of John Gregory who will leave no stone unturned while trying to beat the favourites.
Raphael Augusto and fellow Brazilian, Mailson Alves will look to steer the midfield goalward and captain Henrique Sereno will hope to stop the advances of Miku and Chhetri. Jerry Lalrinzuala will be keen to establish himself as the best young full-back in the country and put up a clinical display in the showpiece.
Though away from home, Chennaiyin will be entering the final as feared rivals with the team that’s on hand.
The teams faceoff for the third time this season with them having a win each against each other and the winner of the final will become the overall leader in the head-to-head apart from winning the big prize.
Man to Watch
Sunil Chhetri-Bengaluru FC: When has he not been the man to watch and cometh the moment cometh the man! Chhetri's hat-trick against FC Pune City showed why he is the most celebrated footballer in the country today and he will look to beat the odds to win his maiden ISL, which he failed to do with Mumbai City last season.
Jeje Lalpekhlua-Chennaiyin FC: If anyone can try and rival Chhetri, it is this man! Jeje has been on fire and has a penchant of scoring in really big games! He has never wavered and will look to be the man who dashes the hopes of the Kanteerava faithful on their home turf where he has previously scored for India.
Chennaiyin FC: Karanjit Singh, Inigo Calderon, Mailson Alves, Henrique Sereno, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Dhanapal Ganesh, Bikramjit Singh, Raphael Augusto, Francis Fernandes, Gregory Nelson, Jeje Lalpekhlua.
Did You Know?
The home side has never won the final in the last two times of trying with both Kerala Blasters and Goa turning up empty-handed at their home turfs.
This will only be their third Match in any competition and both Chennaiyin FC and BFC will look to capitalise on the big night.
The match will be broadcast live on Star Sports 2 and Stars Sports 2 HD 7.30 pm onwards. It will be also available for live streaming on Hotstar and Jio TV.
Published: Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:45 PM IST