ISL final: ATK vs Chennaiyin - Combined XI of the finalists

With ATK facing Chennaiyin FC at the Fatorda Stadium in the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) final, Sportstar picks the best combined XI from both teams.

ATK captain Roy Krishna and Chennaiyin FC skipper Lucian Goian pose with the ISL trophy ahead of the final.   -  ISL Twitter

ATK takes on Chennaiyin FC in Goa in the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) final, with a number of things at stake. The ISL, for the first time, will have a record three-time winner on Saturday when ATK and Chennaiyin meet in the final.

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ATK scripted a comeback victory to get the better of Bengaluru FC in the playoffs, while Chennaiyin put up a dominant performance to knock out FC Goa. As the 2020 finalists take centre stage at the Fatorda stadium, we pick our combined XI.

Goalkeeper: Arindam Bhattacharja (ATK)

Maintaining the second-most number of cleansheets (9), Arindam has been one of the top custodians this season. The ATK goalkeeper, who conceded approximately 0.84 goals per game, was a vital player in the team’s second leg of the semifinal against Bengaluru, wherein his reflexes kept the attackers at bay and sealed a spot in the summit clash. Arindam also boasts a 75% saves percentage  -- far better than Vishal Kaith (57.35%) -- in the 1710 minutes he has played in this edition.

READ | ISL final: What are Chennaiyin's strengths and weaknesses?

Defenders: Pritam Kotal (ATK), Eli Sabia (Chennaiyin), Lucian Goian (Chennaiyin), Jerry Lalrinzuala (Chennaiyin)

Right-back Kotal makes the cut in our back-four which is dominated by Chennaiyin defenders. Kotal, who has featured in every game of ATK this season, has put in a decent performance in his position, making 70 tackles and 32 interceptions.

As for Sabia and Goian, who feature in the center of defence --  the duo has been an integral part of the southern outfit, making a combined 378 clearances and 64 blocks. Apart from taking charge of things at the back, Sabia and Goian have also scored for Chennaiyin. Both defenders were on the scoresheet in the scintillating 4-1 win in the first leg of the playoff, while Goian struck his first of the season against former club Mumbai City -- a goal which proved to be the winner. Young Jerry completes the defence, guarding the left side, as he grows into a promising full-back at Chennaiyin.

Midfielders: Prabir Das (ATK), Edwin Vanspaul (Chennaiyin), Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin), Michael Soosairaj (ATK)

Wing-back Prabir, a menacing figure on the right flank, has arguably been one of ATK’s best players. A standout performer, he is undoubtedly the best Indian winger this season. He is joined by his teammate Michael Soosairaj, who has been experimented in a wing-back role by Antonio Habas. Soosairaj hasn’t quite emerged in that role but nonetheless had a promising season which fetched him a national team call-up, alongside Prabir.

Edwin and Thapa complete the pack, providing their utility from deep midfield. Thapa has enjoyed his free attacking role at Chennaiyin, setting up six goals and netting one. Defensively too, he has been clinical, holding the record for the most interceptions (51). His partner Edwin has been a fan favourite and a revelation under Coyle, playing a big role in Chennaiyin’s fairytale run to the finale.

ALSO READ | In the thick of things: Edwin Vanspaul's ISL journey

Forwards: Roy Krishna (ATK); Nerijus Valskis (Chennaiyin)

Krishna and Valskis’ inclusion is a no-brainer. The two lethal attackers would be any attack-minded coach’s favourite picks, thanks to their goal-scoring excellence this season. Fijian Krishna has 15 goals to his name, while the deadly Valskis has 14. The two are also in the race for Golden Boot, which is currently led by Kerala Blasters’ talisman Bartholomew Ogbeche.

Krishna and Valskis make up for a huge part of their team’s success so far with their presence at the top, and the players have stepped up on big occasions.

Combined XI (4-4-1-1): Arindam Bhattacharja (ATK); Pritam Kotal (ATK), Eli Sabia (Chennaiyin), Lucian Goian (Chennaiyin), Jerry Lalrinzuala (Chennaiyin); Prabir Das (ATK), Edwin Vanspaul (Chennaiyin), Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin), Michael Soosairaj (ATK); Roy Krishna (ATK); Nerijus Valskis (Chennaiyin).

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