The Indian Super League has, sometimes, thrown up some special moments in the last two editions. Another one shall be created when two close Italian friends -- Gianluca Zambrotta (Delhi Dynamos coach), Marco Materzzi (Chennaiyin FC)-- will try to outdo one another, and want their respective ISL teams to emerge victorious. The two sides will square off at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
Delhi Dynamos has improved in terms of their standings in the last two seasons, though they have not reached the finals of the ISL so far. They finished fifth in 2014 and fourth in 2015, and Zambrotta, who is the new coach of Delhi Dynamos, will hope for a quality performance from his side in their opening fixture against Chennaiyin FC.
Defending champions Chennaiyin FC played out an interesting 2-2 draw with Atletico de Kolkata, but Materzzi is aware that his team can come up with an even better performance on Thursday. Chennaiyin FC were a quality side with players like Stiven Mendoza and Elano Blumer, but they will have to do without the services of the duo for this season.
They do have quality players like Jeje Lalpekhlua and an experienced player in the form of John Arne Riise, who is deadly from dead-ball situations. The former Liverpool defender nearly opened his ISL account with a thunderous shot, which rattled the cross bar in the first match.
Chennaiyin FC have always been a consistent team in the competition, winning the title in a thrilling final last season, while they lost in the semifinals in 2014. Chennaiyin come into the third edition of the ISL with the hope of becoming the first team to win the competition twice, but Materrazi does not want to put any pressure on his players.
"I think we have to divide between pressure and obsession. We don't have any pressure to win or obsession to become champions because we have already won the tournament last year. It's a pleasure to defend the title and we will do that until the last match. I am not putting any pressure on the players," Press Trust of India quoted Materazzi as saying.
The Delhi Dynamos will hope to get off to a brilliant start in the third season of ISL. They have a decent mix of foreign and Indian players. Kean Lewis, Milan Singh and Bruno Pelissari are expected to marshal the midfield. Up front, Florent Malouda and Marcelinho will shoulder responsibility in the attacking line.
They resemble a good team in the attacking half, but their defence also has to be top class with Chennaiyin FC possessing incredible players like Jeje, who does not need much space to find the back of the net.
Delhi Dynamos were involved in a good pre-season in England and Sweden. Zambrotta was quite pleased with what he saw, and wants his team to perform in the competition, which is of greater importance.
"I am very happy with the pre-season. We had a good pre-season and am more than happy with it, but the championship starts tomorrow. We will see tomorrow if we have done a good job. We hope to do a good job," said Zambrotta.
"For me, it's important that the team remains compact when we attack as well as when we defend but more importantly it's important to have the winning mentality. I have come here to win something."
Both teams looked good on paper, but with Chennaiyin playing on home turf, Delhi Dynamos have to gel as a unit in their opening match to pick up their first three points.
Where to Watch Live
Chennaiyin FC vs Delhi Dynamos is scheduled for a 7p.m IST start. Live Streaming and TV information is below.
India: TV: Star Sports 1/HD1,2/HD, 3/HD, Asianet Movies, Jalsha Movies. Live Streaming: Hotstar.