Last year's finalists were both beaten in the semifinals, with Chennaiyin pipping FC Goa 6-5 on aggregate, and ATK producing a sterling second-half fightback in the second leg against Bengaluru FC, to win 3-2 on aggregate.
For Antonio Lopez Habas, the ATK head coach, this could be another red-letter day. After leading ATK (then Atletico de Kolkata) to the summit in the first-ever ISL, the Spaniard could now become the first head coach to successfully win two ISL titles, in the tournament's sixth edition.
For Owen Coyle, the Chennaiyin head coach, the final represents his chance to show that he has taken the side a full circle. The Marina Machans finished 10th in the ISL last year, and were in the doldrums under John Gregory before Coyle took over mid-season, just before the turn of the year.
Chennaiyin have been galvanised by the Scot, and the extent of their recovery has been such that they arguably head into this final as favourites.
ATK vs Chennaiyin FC: Match Information
Date: 14th March 2020
Kickoff: 7:30 pm IST
Live Stream: Star Sports Network and Hotstar
Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Goa
ATK v Chennaiyin FC: Team News
In the second leg of the semifinal, Prabir Das and David Williams were in inspired form, as the defending champions Bengaluru FC were booted out of the competition this year. Roy Krishna, who scored a stunning goal to begin that fightback, and is level with Bartholomew Ogbeche at the top of the Golden Boot race, will once again lead the line, with Williams roaming around him.
John Johnson has only played three games this season - all against his former club Bengaluru - and has slotted in seamlessly, like the Indian Football veteran that he is. Johnson is expected to keep his place in the three-man rearguard, alongside Pritam Kotal and Sumit Rathi, with Victor Mongil and Mandi Sosa likely to start on the bench.
For Chennaiyin, Coyle has never really changed the lineup unless forced to, once he found his best XI. Anirudh Thapa and Edwin Sydney Vanspaul have been revelations in midfield, as a partnership. Laldinliana Renthlei and Jerry Lalrinzuala have also looked revitalised at full-back, under Coyle.
But the real threat of this Chennaiyin side comes from the front four. Rafael Crivellaro is the orchestrator, Nerijus Valskis the deadly finisher, Lallianzuala Chhangte is a constant threat with his speed, and Andre Schembri's experience ensures that he is often at the right place at the right time.
Schembri also announced that the final would be his last game of professional football before his retirement.
ATK vs Chennaiyin FC: Probable Lineups
ATK: Arindam Bhattacharya, Pritam Kotal, John Johnson, Sumit Rathi, Prabir Das, Michael Soosairaj, Michael Regin, Javi Hernández, Edu Garcia, David Williams Roy Krishna
Chennaiyin FC: Vishal Kaith, Laldinliana Renthlei, Lucian Goian, Eli Sabia, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Edwin Sydney, Anirudh Thapa, Rafael Crivellaro, Andre Schembri, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Nerijus Valskis
ATK vs Chennaiyin FC: Form Guide
ATK vs Chennaiyin FC: Head to Head
ATK have the upper hand in the head-to head between the two sides, over the six years of the ISL, with the final set to be the 15th time the sides have clashed against each other in the ISL.
In the regular season, the wins were split, with each team winning the away clash against the other. David Williams' goal ensured a 1-0 win for ATK in Chennai, but Coyle's men had their measure of revenge, when they won 3-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium, thanks to goals from Crivellaro, Schembri and Valskis.
ATK wins: 6
Chennaiyin wins: 4
ATK vs Chennaiyin FC: Match Prediction
This is not an easy final to predict at all. Chennaiyin only just hung on against Goa, while ATK produced a sterling second-half, so one would think the momentum is with Habas's men, but the mental boost that getting to a final gives a side, irrespective of the method, is something that cannot be underestimated.
We've got our backsides firmly placed on the fence, and are predicting a final that goes all the way to a penalty shootout, after both sides are deadlocked for 120 minutes. And no, we are not daft enough to try and predict the outcome of a penalty shootout.
Prediction: ATK 2-2 Chennaiyin FCPublished 12 Mar 2020, 06:03 IST