ISL 2019-20: 5 things to look out for in the first week
After an off-season that lasted more than six months, the Indian Super League will finally spring back to life this Sunday, with Kerala Blasters taking on ATK in the 2019-20 curtain raiser.
The action will shift to Bengaluru following the opening act, where defending champions Bengaluru FC will clash against their semi-final opponents from the previous season, NorthEast United FC. Jamshedpur FC, who missed out on the play-off spots by two points, will be eager to start on a winning note when they host Odisha FC.
A hard-and-fast FC Goa will entertain a completely revamped Chennaiyin FC before Mumbai City FC kickstart their ISL campaign against Eelco Schattorie's Kerala Blasters away from home. The week will finally end with debutants Hyderabad FC, playing their maiden ISL match against two-time defending champions, ATK.
Also read: ISL 2019-20: Top 5 Golden Boot contenders
#5 Chennaiyin look to end their opening week jinx and Bengaluru FC hope to continue their spree
If opening week results are anything to go by, then Chennaiyin FC should be the most worried. The Marina Machans have failed to win their opening ISL fixture in the last four editions of the tournament. Last season, they got pipped 1-0 by Bengaluru FC and 2-3 by FC Goa before that. In the 2016 season, they held ATK 2-2 but lost to them a year before by an identical margin with which they lost to Goa. The only opening week match which they won, co-incidentally, was against FC Goa whom they beat 2-1 in 2014.
A refurbished foreign contingent led by defensive rock Lucian Goian will take on the Gaurs, who have not signed any new foreigners, and registered only six of them for the season. However, Sergio Lobera has his main core of players from last season and he will be looking to right the wrongs this time around.
Bengaluru FC should be happy if the trend of first week result continues. Till now, they are the only club to have won both of their opening matches. In the 2017-18 season, they announced themselves to the ISL in style by beating Mumbai City FC 2-0 in a one-sided encounter.
A year later, they beat Chennaiyin before going on an 11-match unbeaten run. This time, Carles Cuadrat and his boys will host dark horse NorthEast United FC, who are backed by a new coach Robert Jarni and led by Ghanian hero, Asamoah Gyan.