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4-min read

ISL 2015: Zico's FC Goa look to clear the final hurdle against Materazzi's Chennaiyin FC

Hosts FC Goa may be the favourites but a good track record at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will boost Chennaiyin FC's confidence as the ISL 2 is all set for a fascinating final.

Vivek Mishra | IBNLive.com@VVK29

Updated:December 20, 2015, 11:02 AM IST
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ISL 2015: Zico's FC Goa look to clear the final hurdle against Materazzi's Chennaiyin FC
Hosts FC Goa may be the favourites but a good track record at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will boost Chennaiyin FC's confidence as the ISL 2 is all set for a fascinating final.
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After 60 matches and more than eight weeks of relentless football, the Indian Super League's second edition has two new finalists this time.

Chennaiyin FC will face FC Goa - the table-toppers and arguably the best performers this season - in the summit clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday.

Chennai lost 1-2 against Atletico de Kolkata in the second leg of semi-final but reached the final with an aggregate score of 4-2, thanks to their authoritative 3-0 victory in the first leg. Goa, on the other hand, after losing the first leg 1-0 to Delhi Dynamos, made a stunning comeback in the second leg to outplay their opponents 3-0 and reach the final for the first time.

Goa have been strategically the most intelligent team under Zico's managership and the players have executed his plans perfectly on the ground. Last season they were knocked out of the league after losing to Kolkata in the penalty shootout but this year they have been winning matches from the start and have peaked at the right time. The Gaurs have won eight out of 16 matches this season and playing at home where they have got a huge fan support, Goa will have a slight advantage over Chennai in the final.

They thrashed Mumbai City FC 7-0, the biggest defeat in ISL, and have lost just one match at home. The one match they lost at Fatorda was their 4-0 defeat against Chennai and that will remind the hosts that they don't have any serious edge against their opponents. Their marquee player Lucio has been at the centre of their gameplans and has been the star performer for the team throughout the season.

Chennai's performance has been quite the contrary and unlike last season, they failed to make a good start. Last year they almost looked invincible before losing in the semis but this year they started their campaign losing back-to-back games and at one point they were fighting with Kerala Blasters not to be at the bottom of the table. Their marquee player Elano Blumer was not scoring goals like the first season but he was still their best and needed some help in the midfield and from other strikers.

Stiven Mendoza and Jeje Lalpekhlua returned back to form in time and the Machans made a brilliant comeback in the later half of the season.

Chennai’s defence has been the key to their success and their coach Marco Materazzi made a great use of Bernard Mendy and Dhanachandra Singh and former Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Apoua Edel has been solid at the goal post.

Battle of the coaches: Materazzi vs Zico

Both managers are completely different in their approach to the game.

While Zico likes to experiment with his playing formation, Materazzi's strength has been his defensive tactics and he does not like to change his experienced back four. Zico likes the attacking brand of football and in the second leg of semi-final against Goa we saw his team attacking from the word go and they overcame the 1-0 deficit to reach the final. It's not that he only knows how to attack. After getting drubbed 4-0 at home by Chennai, we saw Zico go with a defensive strategy against the same opponents in the next game to crunch out a 2-0 win.

Goa, unlike Chennai have been scoring goals freely this season and their 29 strikes before the final is highest for this season. The problem going with an out and out attack theory is that there is high risk of conceding goals and Goa's 4-0 and 4-1 defeats against Chennai and Kolkata are an indication of it. Goa have kept three clean sheets at home this year but they never won more than two games in a row.

Chennai have conceded just 17 goals from 16 games which is the lowest for a team this season. Materazzi likes to play with a strong defence line and just one striker and he has sticked to either the traditional four-man midfield or the diamond formation for the entire tournament and it would be surprising if tries to do something different on Sunday.

Rafael Coelho, who was injured during Goa's second leg of the semi-final against Delhi, has been declared fit and his inclusion will be a big boost for Zico's men. He along with Leonardo da Silva, Thongkhosiem Haokip and Lucio will be the players to watch out for Goa in the final. Goa, having had a mixed experience against Chennai in the past, will be cautious knowing their opponents like to score on the counter.

While Elano is still their best player, Chennai will expect Jeje, Mendoza and Mendy, who have turned things around for them to perform when it matters the most. Their goalkeeper Apoula has been in a brilliant form and has got a good backing from his defenders. If Elano and Co. can somehow find a way to score a quick goal then Materazzi’s strategy will be to block everything and not let Goa players move freely with the ball.

Hosts FC Goa may be the favourites but a good track record at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium will boost Chennaiyin FC's confidence as the ISL 2 is all set for a fascinating final.

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