After 94 matches over four months, the fourth season of Indian Super League (ISL) will come to a close when Bengaluru FC take on Chennaiyin FC in the much-anticipated final at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday, March 17.
A packed stadium will be hosting the title clash between two of the most consistent sides this season. League debutants Bengaluru had finished on top of the table at the end of the double-legged round robin stage while John Gregory's Chennaiyin managed the second spot.
Albert Roca's men are heading into the tie on the back of a 3-1 win (on aggregate) over FC Pune City in the semi-final. Skipper and local favorite Sunil Chhetri had scored his first hat-trick of the season during the Blues' 3-1 win at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday, March 11.
Meanwhile, Chennaiyin, the 2015 champions, crushed FC Goa 4-1 on aggregate to make sure the growing rivalry between the two southern Indian franchises had another chapter.
Having not faced a defeat in their last 10 league outings, Bengaluru start as favorites to win the ultimate battle Saturday. The former I-League champions will also be rallied on by the home crowd, which has always been a big boost to their performances over the years.
Chennaiyin FC very difficult team: Roca
However, coach Roca said Bengaluru is wary of Chennaiyin's ability to rise to the occasion. The former Barcelona assistant manager though insisted his team is ready for the challenge.
"Tomorrow it is a big game against a very difficult team Chennaiyin who has shown a lot of quality and talent. So we are not expecting an easy game for sure," Roca said.
"It is the most difficult game of the season. But, we have done well until now and we are ready for the challenge," he added.
When is the match and how to watch it live
The ISL final between Bengaluru and Chennaiyin will start at 8pm local time, 2:30pm GMT.
TV Channel: Star Sports 2, Star Sports Hindi & Tamil
Live stream: Hotstar
Notably, no home side has won the ISL title so far but Bengaluru have the firepower to rewrite history Saturday.
On the other hand, Gregory will be hoping to finish his maiden ISL campaign on a high. Chennaiyin, under the English tactician, have successfully managed to put behind the disappointment of a seventh-place finish last season and make themselves contenders for a second league title.
Chennaiyin's sturdy backline, which has conceded only two goals in their last five outings, will be tested by the prolific Bengaluru duo of Chhetri and Miku, who have scored 27 goals between them in the season.
On the other hand, Bengaluru will be wary of Chennaiyin's goal-scoring record from set-pieces (10 — the most by any club this season).
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet; Bheke, Juanan, Johnson, Kumar; Haokip, Dimas, Paartalu; Singh, Miku, Chhetri.
Chennaiyin FC: Karanjit; Calderson, Sereno, Alves, Lalrinzuala; Fernandes, Ganesh, Bikramjit, Nelson; Augusto, Jeje.