For a tournament in which FC Goa was by far the finest football team of the group stages (again) and the favourites to win their first ISL title, it was destiny that the final was being hosted by the Fatorda Stadium. On Saturday March 14, however, after close to five months of ISL football action, the two teams walking out to contest the final are not the two overwhelming favourites. Neither Bengaluru FC nor FC Goa – last year’s finalists – made it to the last game.
Instead, old giants ATK and Chennaiyin will renew a rivalry that nobody expected so deep into the season. The old guard is back, and once again, Goa failed to win a tournament that they dominated, while this is the first time in their three seasons that Bengaluru failed to make the final.
The semi-finals were below par football-wise, but made up in excitement and underdog drama. Chennaiyin won 6-5 on aggregate against Goa in a high-scoring two-leg thriller (4-1 and 2-4), while ATK scraped through with a 3-2 aggregate (0-1 and 3-1).
Here are a few facts and stats to know before watching the ISL 2019-20 final:
1. ATK and Chennaiyin have won four ISL titles between them. Both are two-time champions. Chennaiyin most recently won the ISL 2018 final before finishing rock-bottom in ISL 2018-19. The team made a remarkable comeback this season, going from last to qualify in fourth position in one month, before stunning Goa in the semifinal. ATK lost the first leg 1-0 in Bengaluru before staging a great comeback in the second leg at home.
2. This is the first time ATK and Chennaiyin will face each other in an ISL final, despite both winning two titles each. One of them will become the Indian Super League’s first three-time champion.
3. ATK captain Roy Krishna is now level with the eliminated Kerala Blasters’ Bartholomew Ogbeche with 15 goals for the Golden Boot award. Krishna will play in the final on Saturday, with a chance to pass that tally. FC Goa’s prolific striker and goal record-holder Ferran Corominas ended the ISL with 14 goals.
4. FC Goa ended ISL 2019-20 as the highest scoring team, with 51 goals in their 20 games. Bengaluru FC ended the season with 11 clean sheets, two more than any other team. Yet both teams crashed out in the semis. Both also have the highest winning percentage in the ISL. Goa has won 38 of their 88 ISL games, while Bengaluru, relative newbies, have won 26 from 42.
5. Both ATK and Chennaiyin have won both the ISL finals they have contested so far. One of them will lose their first-ever ISL final on Saturday. This is ATK’s first final in four years.
6. FC Goa has never won a two-leg semifinal against Chennaiyin. Two years ago, Goa lost 4-1 on aggregate to eventual champs Chennaiyin, while Goa lost the 2015 ISL final 3-2.
7. On current form, Chennaiyin is favoured to win a high-scoring final.
Image: Indian Super League’s Instagram page