Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) will square off against Chennaiyin FC at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on March 31, Sunday.

The Mariners have been unbeaten in the ISL since Antonio Lopez Habas took over the reins at the start of the year. They have won four out of their last five matches and have 39 points from 18 matches to their name.

That’s two points fewer than the top-placed Mumbai City FC (41), who have played an additional game (19) as compared to Mohun Bagan Super Giant too.

Chennaiyin FC has been on a topsy-turvy ride since the season began. They have shown flashes of brilliance but it has been riddled with phases of inconsistencies, thus preventing them from challenging for the playoffs spots at full throttle.

The Marina Machans have lost thrice in their previous five games. They have accumulated 18 points from as many games.

They are at a point of advantage as all of their nearest competitors, i.e. Punjab FC, Bengaluru FC, Jamshedpur FC, NorthEast United FC, and East Bengal FC have competed in 19 matches each.

Chennaiyin FC can beat them to move higher up in the table with the one-game advantage that they possess at the moment. But, for that, they need to put up an inspired performance in the home turf of the in-form Mariners.

What’s at stake?

Mohun Bagan Super Giant

Mohun Bagan Super Giant has the opportunity cap off their first league double over Chennaiyin FC.

They had won their reverse fixture with the Marina Machans by 3-1, and the team is targeting their fourth league double of the current campaign after having already done so against Hyderabad FC, Jamshedpur FC, and NorthEast United FC.

Needless to say, the Mariners are a force to reckon with at home. They have scored in each of their previous four matches at the Salt Lake Stadium, netting multiple times in all of those games.

The last and the only time the Mariners maintained a longer goal scoring run in such games was between October and December in 2022 (six games).

Their gifted frontline surely makes tasks difficult for the opposition, recording 24.1 touches inside the box of the opposition every 90 minutes, which is only the second behind FC Goa (27.3).

Chennaiyin FC has conceded 28 goals in 18 matches so far, and they can be rest assured that their backline will be teased consistently by the Mohun Bagan Super Giant forwards in the coming clash.

Chennaiyin FC

Head coach Owen Coyle needs to address Chennaiyin FC and their concerning form away from home this season. They have not won any of their last six away matches in ISL 2023-24, losing four times in the process.

The last time they went on a longer winless run on the road was a stretch of seven matches between November 2018-19.

Chennaiyin FC has also struggled to have its frontline function consistently this campaign. They have not scored in nine out of their 18 games in ISL 2023-24, and the last time they had more scoreless games in a single season was in 2020-21 (10 matches).

However, they have their strengths too, and can be pretty formidable when they base their gameplay around the same. For instance, the Marina Machans have won 363 aerial duels in ISL 2023-24, which is the highest amongst all teams in the competition.

However, the Marina Machans’ success rate of 52.5% in such duels is second in the league, behind only Mohun Bagan Super Giant (58.6% - 219/374 aerial duels won).

Regardless of these numbers, Chennaiyin FC needs to emerge as a rejuvenated unit to fuel their aspirations of qualifying for the playoffs in this campaign.

Key Players to Watch Out

Armando Sadiku (Mohun Bagan Super Giant)

The Albanian striker scored twice in Mohun Bagan Super Giant’s last fixture against Kerala Blasters FC, where the former won by 4-3. He has netted seven times and assisted once in 17 appearances in ISL 2023-24.

Sadiku has managed to carve a space despite the presence of equally prolific strikers like Dimitrios Petratos and Jason Cummings. Sadiku has recorded 49 touches in the box of the opposition.

He has created seven goal-scoring opportunities, made 16 shots on target, won 29 duels, made 13 passes per game at 78% accuracy, and also registered 19 recovers. His all-round efforts will come of great use for the Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the ensuing final month of the season.

Ankit Mukherjee (Chennaiyin FC)

The fullback has made 16 appearances for Chennaiyin FC in this campaign, and played a key role in both their forward forays as well as defensive duties.

He has won 15 tackles, 25 aerial duels, 63 duels, 25 clearances, and also created 13 goal-scoring chances. Ankit Mukherjee has made 29 passes per game at 67% accuracy and notched a goal as well as an assist.

He found the back of the net in their incredible 2-1 victory over Odisha FC earlier this month, and Coyle will have him central to his plans to unlock the Mohun Bagan Super Giant defence too. 

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Played – 7

Mohun Bagan Super Giant – 3

Chennaiyin FC – 1

Draws – 3

Trivia: Since the start of 2024, 58.7% of Aakash Sangwan’s (Chennaiyin FC) passes in the ISL have been forward passes, the highest such share by any Indian player.

Team Talk

“We will see if the break affects our form tomorrow. Nothing is more important that playing for your country. We will have two full training sessions with the complete squad and we will be fighting for the three points tomorrow,” Mohun Bagan Super Giant Assistant Coach Manuel Perez said in the pre-match press conference.

“Had we won the last game against Hyderabad FC, like we did against Odisha FC in the preceding one who were the table toppers at the time, we would be sitting in the sixth position with a game in hand now. We would have been the favourites to make it to the playoff had that happened, but that’s the margin of football,” Chennaiyin FC Head Coach Owen Coyle said in the pre-match press conference.

ISL Fantasy

Rafael Crivellaro (6.5cr)

Has earned 75 ISL fantasy points this season

Jordan Murray (6.2cr)

Has bagged 45 ISL fantasy points in 2023-24

Dimitrios Petratos (10.7cr)

Bagged 16 ISL fantasy points in Matchweek 19

If not registered already, fans can participate in the overall league or club-based leagues based on their preferences. Create private leagues, inviting friends and fellow football aficionados to compete. Prizes include a Sony PlayStation ®️ ️5 gaming console, EA Sports FC 24, signed club merchandise, and a Gift Card worth INR 20,000, which will be awarded to 100 winners at the end of the season. Sign up at:

Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.