With the Indian Super League (ISL) all set for its final showdown on Saturday, it is only fair that the two best teams over the course of the season have made it for the summit clash. Both ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC have time and again showed us why they deserve their spots. They have been relentless even during situations when things didn't seem to go their way and apart from a slight stutter midway through the season, have been imperial throughout. And it all boils down to the individuals in both these sides. So ahead of the all-important final, here are the top five players who may well go on to decide which team takes the cup home.
Arguably ATK Mohun Bagan's player of the season, Krishna has been at the heart of everything positive that the team has been able to conjure up while attacking. With 14 goals and seven assists this term, he has the chance of overtaking Igor Angulo on both counts. And you wouldn't bet against him from doing that if his performance in the semifinal was any indication. The form he is in right now, Krishna holds the key in terms of Bagan's attacking impetus and it will be interesting to see how he performs on the big stage.
Probably the most well-rounded defender in the league, Mourtada Fall has been exceptional for the Islanders on either end of the pitch. He has four goals this term, and his aerial ability has been a constant source of offensive threat for Sergio Lobera. Except the ugly-looking tackle on Princeton Rebello in the first leg of the semifinal, his defensive contribution has been solid too. The towering centre-back has 128 clearances, 32 blocks and 49 tackles against his name already, and his duel against Roy Krishna is going to be fascinating to watch.
The French-Moroccan has once again been amongst the best creative players in the league. He has seven assists from 15 games, having played five less games than Alberto Noguera who leads the assists chart with eight. His ability to pick up the ball in the centre of the park, turn and run at the opposition defence is something that is very rarely seen in Indian football. As a result, defenders more often than not are drawn towards him and then beaten easily by his pace. However, considered by some to be a little hot-headed, he will have to keep his cool even as challenges fly in from Sandesh Jhingan and company which it invariably will, if he has to win that elusive ISL trophy.
The 25-year-old winger has been one of the finds this season. The former Shillong Lajong player has been one of Sergio Lobera's trusted lieutenants and has rarely disappointed his gaffer. What makes him a fantastic utility player to have in the side is his intelligence and decision-making. He knows exactly when to come towards the ball and when to make a run off it. Add to that his ability of crossing the ball accurately with either foot and we might just have found a long-term prospect for the national team.
Another Indian player who has done really well this season is young Manvir Singh. Although he might prefer the out-and-out striker position, Antonio Habas has deployed him in a left-sided role throughout the season and the former FC Goa starlet has made it his own. Having already scored six and assisted three this season, he will look to add to that tally even as he keeps one eye on taking the next step and cementing his place in the national squad.