The 2020 CPL Final will be (and probably already has been) played out several times on the chalkboards of both Forge FC and HFX Wanderers FC. Bobby Smyrniotis and Stephen Hart will enter the title match with a meticulously thought-out plan for defeating the other; every player will have their responsibilities, and they'll be ready for a variety of potential scenarios. No matter how much planning you do, though, the game will only be played on the pitch once. The margins will be slim — the sides have been extremely close in their contests so far — which means that it may come down to a few individual matchups. Technically, there are at least 11 possible individual matchups in a game (more if you count subs and, well, the fact that nobody battles with just one player for all 90 minutes). However, we've managed to whittle it down to three that could decide the outcome of Saturday's final (2:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. AT, on OneSoccer and CBC). RELATED READING: Black Lives Matter - Helpful reading and video resources
Triston Henry vs. Christian Oxner

The two shot-stoppers meeting in the CPL Finals are probably the two front-runners for the Golden Glove award at season's end. Henry has been phenomenally consistent for Forge in his two years there, very rarely putting a foot wrong at The Island Games. He's banked four clean sheets in 2020, and he's played an active defensive role in helping his side break up attacks. Oxner is a fan favourite in Halifax, a Nova Scotia native who won the starting job over another capable goalkeeper in both of his seasons with the Wanderers. In PEI so far, he's been excellent in six games of work since taking over for Jason Beaulieu in HFX's fourth match (and ceding the net back to Beaulieu for that 5-0 drubbing against Pacific on Tuesday, in which he played no part). The Wanderers 'keeper has been involved in more defensive actions per 90 minutes than any other goalie at The Island Games, and he's right near the top in claims and saves per game. Both Henry and Oxner inspire a lot of confidence for their defenders, who will be very comfortable allowing their keeper to pick off crosses from the air. One of them is going to have to be beaten at some point on Saturday, though. If this final ends up going to penalties, though, smart money might be on Oxner — he's already saved one at The Island Games, and he stopped two in the 2019 CPL season (including one taken by Forge captain Kyle Bekker).
Akeem Garcia vs. Forge's centre backs

Containing the CPL's Golden Boot leader might be one of the first things Forge's coaching staff are discussing this week. Garcia has six goals and he leads the CPL by a wide margin in expected goals (4.57) and big chances (9). He's made a name for himself at The Island Games by tearing backlines apart on the counter-attack, whether it's receiving the pass himself or playing a through ball up to another attacker to break the line. That said, Garcia can also be neutralized; he's been caught offside 13 times in this competition, which is eight more than any other player in the CPL. Forge's central defenders, David Edgar and Daniel Krutzen, will probably have a plan for exactly how high they want to play their line; they may choose either to trap Garcia, or trust their own athleticism and defensive ability by marking him (and, of course, hoping they don't make any errors for him to jump on). Garcia has scored in his last three games played, including both of the two group stage matches he started. If he gets proper service on the counter, he'll make life fairly miserable for Edgar and Krutzen. If, however, the latter two can adequately mark him out of the game, it'll be harder for HFX to execute their game plan.
Kyle Bekker vs. Andre Rampersad

We all know who Forge's best player is. It's no secret that captain Kyle Bekker is the straw that stirs the drink right now at Forge, and he's sure to be in the conversation for the CPL's Player of the Year award. He's probably the league's best attacking midfielder, and his work rate to cover pretty much every blade of grass on the pitch is unmatched. So, how do you stop him? Cavalry FC certainly tried on Tuesday, with Elijah Adekugbe and Elliot Simmons taking turns gluing themselves to the Forge skipper. Try as they might, though, Bekker still managed to turn around Simmons and do this: So, this is where Andre Rampersad comes in. The 25-year-old midfielder has had a breakout campaign for the Wanderers, playing an extraordinarily important role in the centre of the park for them. He (along with Aboubacar Sissoko) is the fuel for their defensive press, with his athleticism and physicality allowing him to win almost every ball. So far at The Island Games, Rampersad leads the CPL in defensive touches in the middle third (18) and successful duels (61), and he's made the second-most recoveries (56), and the fourth-most interceptions (16). With his midfield partner Sissoko, the more physical of the two, sitting fourth in the CPL in tackles made, it's extremely difficult to play through them. Rampersad will surely be stuck to Bekker on Saturday, and he and Sissoko will hope to dominate the Forge captain physically to try and keep him from linking up with the front three. That could be the matchup that decides this final.

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