Hero ISL 2018-19 promises the dream final for neutrals
The Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) has often thrown surprise finalists. This season’s grand finale on March 17 can go either way, but as FC Goa sealed a place in the final alongside Bengaluru FC with an emphatic 5-2 aggregate triumph over Mumbai City FC, fans will finally get the opportunity to witness a final they so desperately wanted to watch last season.
There is little doubt that Bengaluru and Goa are the two best teams in the Hero ISL at the moment. They were the most attractive and followed teams last season too, but a final that everyone prayed for was not possible as Goa were knocked out by eventual champions Chennaiyin FC. This time, with Bengaluru FC overcoming the odds in the second leg against NorthEast United FC, the final is a dream for all neutrals.
Sergio Lobera’s Goa against Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru promises to be a blockbuster of a finale with the league’s two most attacking teams set to lock horns in the pressure cooker of a clash.
"I think after 180 minutes, whoever is in the final is because they deserve to be there. Both teams have done well all through the season and in the final, we can show the supporters a great show and hopefully we can bring back the trophy," said Lobera.
Neither Bengaluru or Goa have won the Hero ISL trophy and so both clubs will be extra motivated to emerge victorious come Sunday at the Mumbai Football Arena.
"All the finals are special. There is a lot of tension. We are going to stick to our plan and be ready physically and mentally. In football, a lot of things happen that change the game," said Cuadrat.
Finishing as the top two teams at the end of the league stage this season, only separated by their head-to-head record, Bengaluru and Goa have inarguably been the best two teams on show.
While Goa have blown away plenty of opposition en route to scoring a staggering 42 goals in the league stage and the semi-finals of this campaign, Bengaluru have not been too far behind with 35 to their name.
Attacking principles have been at the core of both teams with the head coaches insisting on playing on the front foot. While many teams have employed a counter-attacking and defensive approach, the Gaurs and the Blues have been all about the attack.
The fact that the Hero ISL final will be staged at a neutral venue (Mumbai) should only add to the spectacle with both sides expected to generate plenty of support. Co-incidentally, it was Mumbai which played host to the last final at a neutral venue during the inaugural edition in 2014.
It was the final the neutrals would have wanted and it is the final they are getting, at a neutral venue to boot. It's like a dream come true.