Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC have both undergone wholesale changes ahead of the 2020/21 season of the Indian Super League. While the rebuild was necessary for the Kerala Blasters, the Chennaiyin FC management has opted for a 'value for money' makeover. This seems to have been dividents, looking at the solitary match they have played so far this season against Jamshedpur FC.
The Chennaiyin FC management chose Csaba Laszlo to lead the team this year, a relatively unknown name in many footballing circles. Taking over from Owen Coyle and John Gregory, Laszlo began building the club in his own image, retaining only Eli Sabia and Rafael Crivellaro in the squad.
Long story short, the 2-1 win over Owen Coyle's men was proof that whatever Laszlo is doing at the club is working.
On the other hand, Kerala Blasters head coach Kibu Vicuna finds his side in a crisis of confidence. The club hasn't been doing very well in the past two seasons, and Vicuna will be looking to snap the team's losing streak and get some momentum going.
In contrast to Chennaiyin FC, the Blasters have managed to lure a few big-name players from Europe. Having retained Sergio Cidoncha, the club managed to sign the likes of Vicente Gomez, Costa Nhamoinesu, Bakary Kone, and Gary Hooper, all of whom have played top-flight football in Europe.
Nhamoinesu, Hooper, and Kone have also played in the UEFA Champions League, reinforcing their credentials as world-class footballers.
In the context of the upcoming match-up against Chennaiyin FC, Kibu VIcuna is still looking to find the right balance in the squad. With Rahul KP missing through injury and rumors surrounding the fitness of Sahal Abdul Samad, it is safe to say that Vicuna is yet to find his best starting XI.
As far as Chennaiyin FC are concerned, their strategy of deploying the left-footed Isma on the right-wing has yielded positive results so far this season. Csaba Laszlo will not be looking to change anything in terms of the philosophy of the team. Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev, the club captain for the season is expected to start ahead of Jakub Sylvestr.
Historically, Chennaiyin FC have the upper hand over the Kerala Blasters, having won 6 games in the 14 clashes between the two teams. However, with both sides having undergone squad makeovers, it is difficult to determine a favorite going into the game.
Chennaiyin FC - 6
Kerala Blasters - 3
Draws - 5
Last five results between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC
Kerala Blasters FC 3-6 Chennaiyin FC - 1st February, 2020
Chennaiyin FC 3-1 Kerala Blasters FC - 20th December, 2019
Kerala Blasters FC 3-0 Chennaiyin FC - 15th February, 2019
Chennaiyin FC 0-0 Kerala Blasters FC - 29th November, 2018
Kerala Blasters FC 0-0 Chennaiyin FC - 23rd February, 2018
Top 3 goalscorers from last season
Chennaiyin FC - Nerijus Valskis (15), Rafael Crivellaro (7), Lallianzuala Chhangte (7)
Kerala Blasters - Bartholomew Ogbeche (15), Raphaël Messi Bouli (8), Halicharan Nazary, Rahul KP, Seityasen Singh, Sergio Cidoncha, and Vlatko Drobarov (1 goal each)
Number of clean sheets from last season
Chennaiyin FC - Vishal Kaith (3)
Kerala Blasters - Rehenesh TP (2), Bilal Khan (1)