Season four of the Indian Super League (ISL) is all set to begin on November 17th in Kochi with last season’s finalists ATK and Kerala Blasters. The action will begin at the same venue where it ended last year with the Kolkata side bagging their second title in three years.
The new season will be bigger this time in all sense as the tenure of the league has been increased from two months to four and the number of teams has also gone up. The ISL fever is all set to grip in Jamshedpur and Bengaluru this season.
Two times I-League and Federation Cup champions Bengaluru FC are all set to make their debut in ISL alongwith Indian football newbies Jamshedpur FC owned by the Tata Group.
In this article, we make a list of all the exciting matches to look forward to in the month of December.
Jamshedpur FC vs ATK (December 1, Jamshedpur)
Jamshedpur FC play their first home game on the very first day of December. They welcome the defending champions from Kolkata at the JRD Tata Sports Complex. While the Tata group owned Tata Football Academy (TFA) has been one of the major contributors of Indian football, the city of Jamshedpur never had representation in mainstream Indian football.
Chennaiyin FC vs ATK (December 7th, Chennai)
Chennaiyin FC vs ATK matches have always been a treat for the ISL fans right from season one. These are the only two sides who have won the championship. Both teams have British managers at the helm of affairs and we expect a cracker of a match when these two teams lock horns in Chennai on December 7th.
Bengaluru FC vs Chennaiyin FC (December 17th, Bengaluru)
Bengaluru FC host Chennaiyin FC in the season's first South Indian Derby which is scheduled to take place at the Kanteerava Stadium on December 17th. Derby matches are always special and expect some good banter between Bengaluru and Chennaiyin fans!
Mumbai City FC vs ATK (December 17, Mumbai)
The last time ATK travelled to Mumbai to take on Mumbai City FC was in the second leg of the ISL semi-final. The match ended with a 0-0 score line and ATK qualified for the finals. However, the match is remembered for an infamous fight which took place between the players of the two sides. Alexandre Guimaraes will be keen to see his side triumph over the Kolkata outfit this time around.
Bengaluru FC vs Jamshedpur FC (December 21, Bengaluru)
The two new sides of the ISL is all set to lock horns for the very first time at the Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru on December 21st. It will also be a clash of Catalan and English coaching philosophies with Albert Roca and Steve Coppell devising their team's plans for success.
Chennaiyin FC vs Kerala Blasters (December 22, Chennai)
The second South Indian derby of the season features two fierce rivals Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters. We have seen several exciting matches between the two sides in the past three seasons. The most notable clash would of course be the 2014 two-legged semi-finals. Kerala won the first leg convincingly with a 3-0 margin but drama unfolded in the second leg. The Chennai outfit played their hearts out and scored three goals but late strike in extra time sealed a spot in the finals for the Blasters.
Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC (December 31, Kochi)
The last day of the year is all set to witness two exciting clashes. The day starts with the third and probably the most exhilarating South Indian derby. While this will be the very first time these two teams will come face-to-face, the build-up among the fans has already started. C.K.Vineeth, Sandesh Jhingan, Siam Hanghal and Rino Anto would return to their former stomping ground. This is probably the most awaited match of the season primarily because of the banter between Manjapada and West Block Blues, the fan groups of Blasters and Bengaluru respectively.
ATK vs FC Goa (December 31)
The final game of 2017 features two fierce ISL rivals in ATK and FC Goa. Goa and Kolkata are considered to be the powerhouses of Indian football which automatically generates a rivalry among the teams of the respective cities. The rivalry became intense from the very first time these two sides came face-to-face. In an ill-tempered match in 2014, ATK’s Fikru and FC Goa’s Gregory Arnolin were involved in an ugly spat. Then ATK coach Antonio Habas was also involved in the altercation with Robert Pires. Although ATK enjoy a very healthy record against the Goan side, this match always promises to be a cracker of a game.