The Indian Super League is kicking off this weekend with a high powered match between the two biggest names in the Hero ISL, the game between ATK Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters kicked off at 7:30 in the evening. The current season will be played in three stadiums across the nation namely as, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, and the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco. The stadiums in form of home and away has been allotted as per the last season standings, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda has been given to FC Goa, ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC as the Matchday home Stadiums, GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolin is the home for Chennaiyan FC, Mumbai City FC, Odisha FC and Kerala Blasters and the Tilak Maidan in Vasco will be the home for Jamshedpur FC, Northeast United and Hyderabad FC. There have been 12 training pitches allotted across North and South Goa where the teams can prepare and train for the matches across the 5 months.
The current season of the ISL will be as per the Guidelines of the government which means there will be no spectators in the field and the players will have to maintain their team bio-bubble rules requiring them to stay in their confined circle of the teams. The lack of full-fledged pre-season will be quite a blow to the squads as the teams didn’t get enough time duration to coordinate and link up with the new signings, many of the foreign players still in quarantine up until the last week. The current season will comprise of 11 teams, the most in its last seven years, with SC East Bengal being the latest addition to the Indian Super League after the latest merger of ATK and Mohun Bagan. Marking the entry of Mohun Bagan into ISL earlier this year was a real groundbreaking deal, forcing Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee holding meetings with various investors for East Bengal’s ISL entry before the lockdown, it was Mamata Banerjee who also played a pivotal role in the ATK-Mohun Bagan merger for the ISL 2020 edition. The Kolkata derby will be the most anticipated high-temperature fixture of the ISL this season, the rivalry between the two clubs is not hidden from the Indian football fans and was quite evident with the protests seen throughout the merger process and even during the jersey launch.
Nonetheless, defending champion ATKMB (ATK before the merger) appears best-placed, having preserved last season’s foundation, and added quality defenders like Subhasish Bose and Sandesh Jhingan. Similarly, the Sunil Chhetri-led BFC is now a settled team and looks ready to compete for the top prize again with improved firepower upfront. Sergio Lobera, who for three consecutive seasons guided Goa to top-three finishes and secured it the coveted place in the 2021 AFC Champions League, has moved to Mumbai City FC. Owen Coyle is now with Jamshedpur FC, after leading two-time champion Chennaiyin FC to the final last season. There is also anticipation that the 2020-21 Season will be even closer. This understanding has been augmented by a steady influx of players coming from the Australian League. If India’s top division manages to be competitive enough to beat the seemingly real digital fatigue and seamlessly slip into the prime-time television slot just vacated by the IPL.
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