Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC will be looking for all three points when they take on second-placed ATK Mohun Bagan on Tuesday. The Marina Machans’ form has seen a somewhat upward trajectory in the last couple of games and they would be looking to finish the year on a high while the Mariners will hope they can continue their winning run and breathe down Mumbai City FC’s neck as we enter the second half of the season. Here are the key battles that will decide the outcome of this clash.
The battle for midfield dominance
This match will see two exceptionally versatile midfields go against each other. While Chennaiyin has the likes of Deepak Tangri, Anirudh Thapa and Rafael Crivellaro, ATK Mohun Bagan will field Edu Garcia, Carl McHugh and maybe one between Pronay Halder and Jayesh Rane. Both teams have midfielders who can help in attacking transitions as well as do the job of mopping up at the back if need be. Then there’s the off the ball running that both Rane and Thapa provide their respective sides which has been crucial for them this season.
Curbing ATK Mohun Bagan’s wing play
The Mariners can shapeshift at will, especially during attacking their opponents. In Prabir Das, Subhasish Bose and even Pritam Kotal, they have players who can hurt opposition defences on the overlap by putting in crosses as well as making decoy runs that open up space for the midfielders. Then there’s the threat of Manvir Singh who has been absolutely fantastic this season both with the ball and without it. The combination play that the wide players have with each other often ends up being the difference, especially because they have two brilliant finishers in the side in the form of David Williams and Roy Krishna.
David Williams and his advanced playmaker role
In the last match against Bengaluru FC, head coach Antonio Habas deployed David Williams in the role of a withdrawn forward, playing just off Roy Krishna. The Aussie attacker was brilliant on the night as he dropped back countless number of times and picked a pass for either Krishna or Manvir up top. His movement will have to be checked by either Tangri or Thapa during such situations because if not dealt with properly, he can draw one of the defenders out and create dangerous openings for his teammates.
Space afforded to Rafael Crivellaro in the final third
Csaba Laszlo’s biggest weapon as always will be the 31-year-old Brazilian. He was instrumental in the victory against FC Goa as he notched up a goal and an assist and was again good on the night in the 2-2 draw against SC East Bengal. With Jakub Sylvestr also finding a little bit of form recently and Isma coming back from injury, Crivellaro’s attacking intent will be the key for Chennaiyin in unlocking the Bagan defence.