The league is expected to be full of rivalries this time around as some of the biggest teams in the country go head-to-head.
The Indian Super League (ISL) is just a month away and the football fans in the country are gearing up to support their favourite side. The inception of the ISL has seen the advent of fan culture in the country. Rivalries have become more fierce with every match and with every season it is like a new chapter to the story. With all the rivalries taking shape, things will intensify more when players who have changed colours will face their former teams.
The cash-rich league is back and with that, it brings back the intensity, the rivalries and the buzz for Indian football fans. Rivalries are an integral part of football and in these past four years of the ISL, things have only got more interesting as teams and fans have got more involved.
Looking at the rivalries, we here at Khel Now bring to you the top five highly-anticipated clashes.
5. Bengaluru FC Vs Kerala Blasters
This is the most famous rivalry that has gathered pace in the past few years, especially among their huge fan-bases. Both clubs have fa-nbases backing their team and creating an amazing atmosphere inside the stadium. The Manjappada and the West Block Blues have exchanged banter in the past and will keep on doing so while their teams battle for glory on the field.
Watch: The south Indian Derby is already in the list of many fans across the country
Just like the Kolkata Derby or the Goan Derby, this has emerged as a new age rivalry among the fans and its always a great spectacle to see both the sides clash against each other on the field. Bengaluru FC, however, have the upper hand as they did the league double over their rivals Kerala Blasters. David James’ men will hope that they have some answers this season and hopefully, Manjappada can have the last laugh this time around.
4. Bengaluru FC Vs FC Goa
Both the sides had a great season last time out, Bengaluru FC reached the final, where they lost against eventual winners Chennaiyin, whereas FC Goa bowed out in the playoffs against Chennaiyin. FC Goa did put up a great display last season in most of the first half of the season, as they played very attractive football under the tutelage of Spanish coach Sergio Lobera.
The Blues were defeated last season by the Gaurs in a very dramatic affair where BFC goalikeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was sent off and Ferran Corominas announced himself to the league with a stunning hat-trick. The thriller ended in a 4-3 scoreline for the Gaurs. The Blues did redeem themselves in the home leg as they won the bout 2-0. The clash between both these teams always brings supporters to the edge of their seats and this season will be no different for both Lobera and Carles Cuadrat’s men.
3. Mumbai City FC Vs FC Pune City
Commonly known as the Maharashtra Derby or Maha Derby, this is a cracker of a fixture in this year’s ISL. Both the teams have made several changes in personnel and it will be interesting to see how the new players and coaching staff will settle into the atmosphere here in India. It has always been a very entertaining affair through the years. The Stallions had a good season last time out as the qualified for the playoffs for the first time in their history.
Watch: The Maha Derby is destined for entertainment this season
The Stallions also got the better of their local rivals as they did the double over Mumbai City last season. New manager Jorge Costa and his latest recruits will try and make sure that history is not repeated this year.
2. Bengaluru FC Vs Chennaiyin FC
Mailson’s header which silenced the home crowd at the Kanteerava in the final last season will be remembered as one of the most iconic moments in the ISL’s short history. Bengaluru FC who were head and shoulders above every team in the league phase stumbled right at the business end of the league. Chennaiyin who have already won the crown did know the stakes in the final. The Marina Machans gave all they had and Brazilian defender Mailson Alves became the unheralded hero on the night as the Chennai-based outfit won their second ISL title last year.
The Blues came back by winning the Super Cup, but the disappointment of losing the title after leading the league phase right from the start will definitely be a deep wound. Hence the rivalry will be fierce when both teams will lock horns again this season, as the Blues will look for redemption, whereas the Machans will look to continue their momentum from last season.
1. ATK Vs Kerala Blasters
This is a very historic fixture in the ISL, as it will be a repeat of the 2014 and 2016 finals and surprisingly on both times ATK came out on top of their opponents and clinched the crown. While the Kolkata based outfit will look to improve from their disappointing performance last season, Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, will look to better their record against the two-time champions this season.
The league opener this season will be one of the games to look out for this year
The tournament will announce itself with a cracking fixture on the 29th of September as new manager Steve Coppell will take on his former team Kerala Blasters. This fixture has always been historic and has attracted a huge number of people to the stadium and this season’s opener will be no different.