KICKING OFF THE 2020-21 season of Indian Super League will be a clash between two of the most popular clubs in India - Kerala Blasters and Mohun Bagan.
Both teams feature new-look squads, with the Mariners packing their roster with most of the players and coaching staff who turned out for ATK FC last season and Kerala Blasters aiming to build anew with under Kibu Vicuna.
Yet, the underlying narrative of this clash is far apart from the Xs and Os of the league season. Because even though on paper this is the very first meeting between the first teams of Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters, the two teams are closely linked to each other in terms of the people who will turn out for them.
Vicuna was the Mohun Bagan head coach last season and under him the Mariners had one of their most dominant league seasons ever, winning the I-League with many rounds to spare. Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan's new star signing is none other than Sandesh Jhingan, the national team regular who played for KBFC for six seasons and is considered a club legend by the fans.
Both Vicuna and Jhingan have spoken multiple times about their love for their previous clubs, and the connection they felt to those cities and fanbases. Starting a new chapter in their careers by going up against the clubs they still feel a lot for is going to be a trial by fire for their professional commitments.
And that's not the only factor that makes this match an interesting contest to begin the league with. 2020-21 is an extraordinary season in every sense, and there are more elements that weigh into the game than ever. Let's take a look at some of those here...