Hyderabad vs Kerala Blasters: Preview and Prediction

Hyderabad and Kerala Blasters will lock horns in Southern special contest

Defending champions Hyderabad will host Kerala Blasters at the Gachibowli Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 pm in a repeat of last season’s final, wherein the Nizams had prevailed 3-1 on penalties to win their first league title. Not a lot has changed since then, with Manolo Marquez and Ivan Vukomanovic set to rekindle their rivalry. 

While the home side is sitting pretty atop the league standings, undefeated still, after six matches, the Yellow Army have had a mixed bag of results. In their most recent fixture, the club from Telangana’s capital defeated Jamshedpur 1-0, making it five wins in a row, as well as keeping their fifth consecutive clean sheet. On the other hand, their opponents come into this fixture on the back of a resounding 3-1 win over Goa

The defending champions have eked out four consecutive 1-0 wins of late, and with Marquez’s men yet to lose a single game, they look well-poised to challenge for the title once again this term. They have amassed 16 points from six games and have already opened up a four-point lead over second-placed Mumbai City

The Blasters meanwhile have won three and lost the remaining three games, and have thus collected only 9 nine points so far. They currently sit in fifth place but could rise to third place, overtaking ATK Mohun Bagan who are in action on Sunday against Goa. 

Current Form

Fair to say that there’s only one in-form team amongst these two rivals at the moment. The Nizams began their league campaign with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Mumbai City, wherein Joao Victor scored a brace, while Halicharan Narzary also got his name on the scoresheet, whereas goals from Greg Stewart and Alberto Noguera rescued Des Buckingham’s men alongside an own goal from Chinglensana Singh.

Marquez’s men subsequently thumped NorthEast United 3-0, with Bartholomew Ogbeche, Narzary and Borja Herrera among the goalscorers. They subsequently edged out Bengaluru, Goa, Odisha and Jamshedpur with Ogbeche, Javier Siverio and Mohammad Yasir on the scoresheet respectively. 

On the other hand, the club from Kochi kick-started their league campaign with a thrilling 3-1 win over East Bengal, as Adrian Luna, and Ivan Kalyuzhnyi sealed all three points, while Alex grabbed a consolation strike for his side. 

Vukomanovic’s men then suffered three losses back-to-back, first, they were humbled by the Mariners 5-2, before losing 2-1 to Odisha, and enduring another loss at the hands of the Islanders by 2-0. 

However, the Yellow Army showed great character to bounce back in the subsequent games, winning two matches back-to-back, first a routine 3-0 win against the Highlanders, followed by a 3-1 victory over the Gaurs. 

Head-to-Head Record

In the history of ISL, these two sides have locked horns 7 times, and the Blasters have prevailed on three occasions, while the Nizams won the remaining 4 matches. Their most recent meeting ended 0-0 in the final last year, with penalties required to separate the two teams. 

Vukomanovic’s men won the first league meeting between them in January last season by 1-0, whereas the club co-owned by Rana Daggubati avenged that loss with a 2-1 win in February.  

Team News

Both coaches have shown contrasting philosophies so far this season, with Marquez sticking to his tried and tested playing XI, while Vukomanovic has experimented much more with his selections.

As far as defending champions are concerned, they are likely to line up in their usual 4-2-3-1, although, Laxmikant Kattimani was injured in their last outing and had to leave the field on a stretcher. 

Thus, Anuj Kumar is likely to keep his place in goal, behind a solid back-four of Nikhil Poojari, Odei Onaindia, Chinglensana and Akash Mishra. The dynamic duo of Joao Victor and Hitesh Sharma will pull the strings in the centre of the park, while Narzary, Ogbeche, and Yasir will be expected to continue behind Siverio. With two goals in his last two outings, Yasir will be the man to keep a close eye on. 

The Blasters lined up in a 4-4-2 in their previous games, with Prabhsukhan Gill everpresent between the sticks, Sandeep Singh, Hormipam Ruivah, Marko Leskovic, and Nishu Kumar are expected to marshall the defence line. 

Sahal Samad and Rahul KP ran the show against Goa and will continue to be a threat on the wings, while Jeakson Singh and Ivan will start in the engine room. Luna and Dimitrios Diamantakos will be tasked with the tough job of breaching the Nizams’ fortress. 

Predicted Starting XIs

Kerala Blasters (4-4-2): Prabhsukhan Gill; Sandeep Singh, Hormipam Ruivah, Marko Leskovic, Nishu Kumar; Sahal Samad, Jeakson Singh, Ivan Kalyuzhnyi, Rahul KP; Adrian Luna, Dimitrios Diamantakos

Hyderabad (4-2-3-1): Anuj Kumar; Nikhil Poojari, Odei Onaindia, Chinglensana Singh, Ashish Mishra; Joao Victor, Hitesh Sharma; Mohammad Yasir, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Halicharan Narzary;  Javier Siverio. 


No team in the history of ISL has ever kept six consecutive clean sheets, but the Nizams will be looking to etch their name in the history books, and further strengthen their grip atop the league standings.

On the other hand, the Yellow Army has revitalised with back-to-back wins and they will also aim to continue that winning run. Expect a cracking contest in this Southern blockbuster with the home side having a slight edge given they have not lost a single game so far.