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12 hours ago, StevieDay1983 said:

Well, here it is, an official thread for the India Super League. @Tiffy, if you want to kick the speculation off. I'll have a trawl for odds ahead of the big kick off. Until then, give us whatever musings you have about the first round of matches.

Thanks Stevie D, I'll have a look when I get 5 mins and do some research

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17 November - Season Starts

Kerala Blasters V Atletico De Kolkata (ATK)

With India hosting the U17 World Cup it seems a good time to get into this league. There is big money & big stadiums , with a franchised format similar to the IPL. Some big names are over here too, so I have a feeling we could be in for an entertaining season with lots of goals.

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The fourth edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) kicks off with a battle between old nemesis Kerala Blasters FC and ATK at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday. The Blasters will be keen to avenge last year’s final loss in the very same venue as Kochi gears up for a blockbuster season-opener. ATK have got the better of Kerala in the past, but will be without star striker Robbie Keane, who’s sidelined with injury. The Blasters, however, are expected to field a full-strength squad as both sides look to open their campaign with three points.

Head to Head: ATK 5 – 1 Kerala Blasters FC. 2 draws

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Key players – 

Iain Hume (Kerala Blasters)

The prolific Canadian returns to Kochi to play against the club he left Kerala for after the inaugural season. His success has been unwavering and his record of being his team’s top-scorer in every Hero ISL season goes to show that. He is also Hero ISL’s all-time top-scorer and lifted the title with Kolkata last year. Also, good with his link-up play, how he combines with Dimitar Berbatov in Kerala’s frontline will be crucial to the fortunes of the southerners.

Eugeneson Lyngdoh (ATK)

The defending champions made no hesitation in splurging the cash on Lyngdoh in the pre-season draft. The joint-most expensive domestic signing in this year’s draft, Lyngdoh will need to bring his A-game at the heart of midfield while trying to initiate attacks in a hostile stadium against Kerala. The talented midfielder’s pinpoint passing and clinical finishing will be worrying for opposition defences. He’s certain to be a driving force for ATK and is a definite game-changer. Lyngdoh is also known to be good with his head and has nodded in a fair share of crosses after arriving late in the box.

Potential starting lineups:

Kerala Blasters FC:

Kerala will most likely opt for a 4-5-1 formation with Paul Rachubka in goal, a flat back-four and pacey wingers in midfield. Sandesh Jhingan, Nemanja Lakic Pesic and Rino Anto, are all likely to start at the back, while local star CK Vineeth will be providing width in midfield. Up front, Hume’s exchanges with the deep lying Berbatov is sure to keep the opposition backline on their toes.

Goalkeeper: Paul Rachubka

Defenders: Soraisam Pritam Kumar Singh, Nemanja Lakic Pesic, Sandesh Jhingan, Rino Anto

Midfielders: CK Vineeth, Courage Pekuson, Siam Hanghal, Jackichand Singh

Forwards: Dimitar Berbatov, Iain Hume

Head coach, Rene Meulensteen on previous losses to ATK: “Whatever has happened in the past, is in the past. It’s not relevant now with what’s going to happen tomorrow. It's KBFC vs ATK. Only the names of the teams are the same. Rest is different. Managers, players, everything is different.”

ATK:

Kolkata will probably begin with a traditional 4-4-2 formation with Jordi Figueras Montel and Tom Thorpe at the centre of defence and Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Conor Thomas in the heart of midfield. The responsibility in attack will have to be shouldered by the likes of Zequinha, Njazi Kuqi and target-man Robin Singh.

Goalkeeper: Debjit Majumder

Defenders: Keegan Pereira, Jordi Figueras Montel, Thomas Joseph Thorpe, Prabir Das

Midfielders: Zequinha, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Conor Thomas, Bipin Singh

Forwards: Robin Singh, Njazi Kuqi

ATK head coach, Teddy Sheringham on playing in Kochi: “It’s mouth-watering for a manager and for my players to come to this fantastic stadium and know that it’s going to be a full house in the first game. It’s what you dream of as a boy. You want to play in front of a lot of fans. You want that excitement. You want that atmosphere.”

Key stat:

Kerala have beaten ATK just once in eight meetings and that sole victory came at Kochi in Hero ISL 2014.

Last meeting:

The last time these two sides met was in the final of Hero ISL 2016, which ATK won 4-3 on penalties after it finished 1-1 at the end of extra-time in Kochi.

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