Marco Materazzi , Chennaiyin FC
Marco Materazzi will need all his players to shine in order to witness Chennaiyin FC win back-to-back titles.IANS

Chennaiyin FC have been one of the consistent teams in the Indian Super League. The club topped the standings after the group stages in the first edition (2014), but faltered in the semi-finals. Chennaiyin FC, in an unpredictable last season, won the title in a thrilling final against FC Goa, and the team from down south will go into the 2016 season as huge favourites.

Chennaiyin FC have been one of the consistent teams in the Indian Super League. The club topped the standings after the group stages in the first edition (2014), but faltered in the semi-finals. Chennaiyin FC, in an unpredictable last season, won the title in a thrilling final against FC Goa, and the team from down south will go into the 2016 season as huge favourites.

The club will have to do without the services of the star player of last two seasons, Stiven Mendoza, who was not released by his club New York City FC. But, they need to move on, and the team under the watchful eyes of Marco Materazzi will always be a huge force.

Without Mendoza, Indian forward Jeje Lalpekhlua will have to shoulder the responsibility and score important goals for the club, while Dudu Omagbemi also needs to take his game to next level.

Chennaiyin have also managed to sign some good players, including Hans Mulder, who are going to form a quality midfield along with Raphael Augusto. They will also miss Elano Blumer in midfield.

They have always been a strong team in the offensive front, but there have been times when Chennaiyin FC have had problems in the back. One hopes that the signing of former Liverpool player John Arne Riise will reduce problems at the back. If Bernard Mendy and Mehrajuddin Wadoo look solid at the back, they will have all their bases covered to launch their title defence.

Chennaiyin FC cannot afford another slow start in ISL 2016 like last year, where they won only three games in the opening 10 matches. A good start for Materazzi's side will give a lot of trouble to other teams.

Impact signing: John Arne Riise has a huge experience at various levels, and will play an important role in Chennayin FC's defence. He can also offer some wonderful tips and suggestions to youngsters, and guide them to improve upon their football.

Foreign players: They have some strong international flavour in all departments, which makes them a strong team. In defence, they have Bernard Mendy (France), while Raphael Augusto (Brazil) and Hans Mulder (Netherlands) will be key players in the midfield. Dudu Omagbemi from Nigeria is going to be an important forward this season.

Key Indian players: Out of the many Indian players representing Chennayin FC, Materazzi knows the importance of Jeje Lalpekhlua to this team. Baljit Sahni also needs a special mention here. 

Prediction: They should not have any trouble in making it to the knockout stages of the competition, and if they enjoy a good run in the league phase, they should gather good confidence to clinch the title. 

Opening match: Chennaiyin FC face Atletico de Kolkata at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata on October 2.

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