No side in the short history of Indian Super League (ISL) has managed to repeat success in consecutive seasons. It will be interesting to see if Chennaiyin FC can become the first ISL outfit to win three titles.
In the following piece, Goal analyses the strengths and weakness of the Abhishek Bachchan co-owned side.
John Gregory, who led Chennaiyin to their second ISL title last season, will continue to be at the helm this year. Gregory became the first English coach to win the league last season.
Under the Englishman, the Marina Machans were defensively solid and had a strong midfield screen in front. He used his Indian players extremely well as they romped to the title last season.
The Chennaiyin loyalists will hope that Gregory will continue his magic and help the team to defend the title.
Indian players: Sanjiban Ghosh, Nikhil Bernard, Laldinliana Renthlei, Zohmingliana Ralte, Tondonba Singh, Sinivasan Pandiyan, Isaac Vanmalsawma.
Foreign players: Eli Sabia, Andrea Orlandi, Carlos Salom.
Chennaiyin have signed Spanish midfielder Andrea Orlandi this season to strengthen their midfield. Orlandi has played in the Premier League for Swansea City and had also appeared in a game for FC Barcelona early in his career. They have also signed Brazilian defender Eli Sabia to replace last year's skipper Henrique Sereno and Palestine international striker Carlos Salom.
Among the Indian players who have joined the franchise this year, the notable ones are Zohmingliana Ralte from Bengaluru FC and Sinivasan Pandiyan from Chennai City FC.
Strength & Weakness:
Chennaiyin have managed to retain the core of their team from last season. Under Gregory, they are a tight-knit group full of talented players. The likes of Anirudh Thapa, Germanpreet Singh, Jerry Lalrinzuala are young players who impressed during their title run and the addition of Sinivasan Pandiyan will only further add to the strength of the Indian contingent of the squad.
Chennaiyin once again have a pool of quality players in midfield but Dhanpal Ganesh's injury will certainly hamper Gregory's options. Ganesh's absence in the first half of the season will force the coach to alter the composition of the team to maintain the balance between defence and attack.
Unlike their midfield, Chennaiyin once again lack players in the strike force. Other than Jeje Lalpekhlua, both Mohammed Rafi and Baoringdao Bodo are not up to the mark. While Rafi is normally considered as a substitute, youngster Bodo does not have enough experience. They have signed Palestinian striker Carlos Salom and will be hoping he fires on all cylinders.
Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh, Sanjiban Ghosh and Nikhil Bernard
Defenders: Eli Sabia, Hendry Antolay, Inigo Calderon, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Laldinliana Renthlei, Mailson Alves, Tondonba Singh and Zohmingliana Ralte
Midfielders: Sinivasan Pandiyan, Anirudh Thapa, Raphael Augusto, Andrea Orlandi, Francis Fernandes, Thoi Singh, Isaac Vanmalsawma, Gregory Nelson, Germanpreet Singh, Zonunmawia, Bedashwor Singh
Strikers: Carlos Salom, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Baoringdao Bodo and Mohammed Rafi