ISL Final: 5 key battles to watch out for when ATK take on Chennaiyin FC
- There is little to separate between ATK and Chennaiyin FC in terms of individual quality and these 5 battles could decide the game!
And, then there were two. After five months of back and forth action, it all comes down to ATK and Chennaiyin FC at the Fatorda Stadium to decide who will walk out with the ISL trophy. Both are former champions and made their way to the finals deservedly.
ATK meant business in the pre-season. They spent heavily in the transfer market and got their dividends paid once the tournament commenced. They were in contention with FC Goa to finish the ISL league standings on top. But two back-to-back blips forced them to settle for the second spot.
Chennaiyin FC's remarkable turnaround is nothing less than a fairytale. Reeling from their previous edition's disastrous ending, new manager Owen Coyle steadied the ship and took them to the ISL playoffs in a do-or-die encounter against Mumbai City FC. The Marina Machans are in no mood to stop after reaching the final hurdle.
There is little to separate between ATK and Chennaiyin FC in terms of individual quality. But, on the given day, the team which makes lesser mistakes, or rather, forces the opposition to commit more will gain the upper hand. Without any further ado, here are the five key battles to watch out in the ISL final on Saturday.
#5 Lallianzuala Chhangte (Chennaiyin FC) vs Prabir Das (ATK)
The battle between the two Indian nationals in the wide areas of the pitch is what should please the eye of India's national team head coach Igor Stimac. Both Chhangte and Prabir have exceeded their expectations and proved to be a menace for their semi-final opponents.
ATK were lively against Bengaluru FC in the second leg through the right flank because they didn't foray much forward in that direction. Their captain Sunil Chhetri was partly injured. But, a galloping Chhangte could restrict the ATK wing-back to his defensive duties.
The Mizo forward has scored 7 goals, having struck in each of the semifinal encounters, and is only behind Sunil Chhetri in terms of Indian goalscorers. His blistering pace and ball control is something Prabir should be wary of.
If Pritam Kotal alone can manage to keep Chhangte quiet, Prabir Das would have the leverage to surge forward. At this stage, ATK's most lethal weapon is Prabir's pinpoint low cross from near the byline.
He has done that 64 times and bagged 6 crosses. It remains to be seen whether either of them will be able to add to their tally.