From the 61 matches to be played for this year’s edition of the ISL, we are now down to one. It’s the final of the tournament – Kerala Blasters FC vs Atletico de Kolkata.
The showdown for the mega final takes place on Saturday, at the DY Patil stadium in Mumbai. It is a match one simply cannot afford to miss.
For all the glitz and glamour that the tournament has provided us, it has been the high-quality football that has attracted thousands of football crazy fans. And Saturday isn’t going to be any different, with both Kerala and Kolkata enthralling the fans in Mumbai.
Kolkata, who were picked as favourites before the tournament, have had a see-saw ride en route the final. Although they started remarkably, the Sourav Ganguly co-owned side hit a rough patch midway and never seemed to regain its confidence after that.
An alarming stat of just 4 wins in 14 games proves that they need to find the winning formula for the final. A large part of their success may well depend on getting their star striker Fikru fit, who scored consistently to begin the tournament.
Kolkata barely scraped through their semifinal clash with FC Goa, needing penalties to decide the tie. Although their performance wasn’t great, they would be buoyed by keeping two consecutive clean sheets, and will fancy their chances on Saturday.
The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Blasters too barely made it to the semis, finishing fourth in the league stage with just 5 wins in 14 matches. They played arguably the best game of the tournament in their second-leg semi-final clash with Chennaiyin FC, which they won 4-3 on aggregate in the dying stages.
Kerala won their home game convincingly by outplaying the Chennai outfit 3-0, but they had an absolute nightmare in the return leg. Having been down to ten men since the 28th minute, they squandered the aggregate lead and looked all set to be leapfrogged by Chennai. However, they found that extra bit of quality in extra time, as Stephen Pearson scored to book their place in the final.
Although they were beaten fair and square in the second leg, they only need to look at their performance in their home leg for added confidence.Besides, having the best defence in the league before the play-offs, the Kerala outfit has also found the firepower needed in front of the goal. This added dimension to their game coupled with Kolkata’s poor run of form, makes them favourites for the final on Saturday, but just by a whisker.