Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) will host southern rivals Bengaluru FC (BFC) in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 opener at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Thursday, September 21. The KBFC vs BFC ISL 2023-24 match will start at 8:00 PM IST.

Led by head coach Ivan Vukomanović, Kerala Blasters will aim to bounce back after going down to Bengaluru FC in inexplicable circumstances in the ISL knockout playoffs last season. 

Bengaluru were awarded the win after the Blasters’ players walked off the pitch protesting an extra-time freekick scored by Sunil Chhetri.

Ahead of the new season, both teams have made several changes to their squad.

The likes of Sahal Abdul Samad, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Jessel Carneiro, and Harmanjot Singh Khabra have left KBFC. 

Sandesh Jhingan, Roy Krishna, Udanta Singh and Prabir Das have departed BFC.

Additionally, few of the players are on national duty for the Asian Games 2023. While KBFC will miss the services of Rahul KP and Bryce Miranda, BFC will be without their captain Sunil Chhetri and Rohit Danu.

Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC head-to-head

Bengaluru FC have a superior head-to-head record against Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL. The Blues have won eight of the 13 matches that they have played so far. The Tuskers have managed just three victories. Two matches have ended in draws.

The last time these two sides met, Kerala Blasters FC and Bengaluru FC played a 1-1 draw during their Group A clash of the Super Cup 2023 in April.

KBFC vs BFC Dream11 prediction

Kerala Blasters FC will play their first home game of the ISL 2023-24 against Bengaluru FC on Thursday. While Bengaluru have a clear edge over Kerala in their ISL head-to-head record, the Blasters will bank on their home support. KBFC pipped BFC 3-2 in their previous meeting in Kochi last year. 

Going by their home advantage, Kerala Blasters FC will start as slight favourites against Bengaluru FC.

KBFC vs BFC Dream11 team tips for ISL 2023-24

Top tip: Best forward

Kerala Blasters’ Adrian Luna has been one of the top players in the ISL since making his debut in 2021. The 31-year-old Uruguayan footballer has already netted 10 goals and provided 13 assists in 43 matches so far. He will be crucial for KBFC in their ISL 2023-24 opener on Thursday.

Top tip: Best midfielder

Bengaluru FC star Javi Hernández will be the player to watch out for in the midfield. Under head coach Simon Grayson, Javi Hernández played a pivotal role in helping BFC reach the ISL final last season. He scored seven goals and also registered five assists in ISL 2022-23. Having previously played for ATK Mohun Bagan and Odisha FC, Javi Hernández brings wealth of experience and will look to control the tempo from midfield against Kerala Blasters FC.

Top tip: Best defender and goalkeeper

Kerala Blasters defender Pritam Kotal will aim to impress after joining the club from defending champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant. Kotal registered 48 interceptions and 72 clearances in the 24 matches that he played last season. Apart from his defensive exploits, the 30-year-old has scored five goals and provided eight assists in his ISL career. Kotal is expected to form a formidable centre-back pairing with Miloš Drinčić for ISL 2023-24 season.

For the goalkeeper spot, BFC’s Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will be the overwhelming choice over Sachin Suresh of KBFC. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu recorded seven clean sheets and made 71 saves to guide BFC to the ISL final last season. In the absence of Chhetri, the BFC custodian is expected to play a crucial role in Kochi.

KBFC vs BFC playing XI (probable)

Kerala Blasters FC: Sachin Suresh (goalkeeper); Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Miloš Drinčić, Aiban Dohling; Jeakson Singh, Danish Farooq, Adrian Luna; Daisuke Sakai, Kwame Peprah, Bidyashagar Singh

Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (goalkeeper); Parag Satish Shrivas, Naorem Roshan Singh, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Slavko Damjanovic; Rohit Kumar, Suresh Singh, Javi Hernandez; Sivasakthi Narayanan, Curtis Main, Halicharan Narzary

Photo credit: Bengaluru FC