No, it’s not a preview of the opening game from last season, it’s just that once again, the opening fixture for FC Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City is against each other.

Throughout the ISL these matches have been very close affairs, with the biggest winning margin being two goals.

Two times before, including the inaugural ISL campaign, these two have met on the very first match day. The first match between them ended in a 0-0 draw while last season’s opener was won by Delhi in a strong 3-2 win.

Delhi’s got Pune’s number

And Delhi winning has been the norm over the eight matches they have played against each other. Four of the matches has gone to the Dynamos, while three have been draws and only one single game, the 4-3 goal fest in 2016, was won by Pune.

The goal difference for the two sides are 15 goals to Delhi and 11 to Pune, so while Delhi has by far the most wins, the games have been close. As mentioned, the biggest winning margin is two goals, that happened in the 11th round of the 2015 campaign, when Delhi won 3-1 in their own backyard.

Pune’s striker Emiliano Alfaro is still at the club, and he, alongside Kalu Uche, who has played for both sides, but is now at ATK, are the two with the most goals in this fixture. They have both scored three each over the years.

As mentioned, last season’s opener ended in a 3-2 win to Delhi, with all the goals coming in the second half and Pune almost pulling off a miraculous comeback, but Marcos Tebar’s last minute 3-2 goal left too much to do with too little time left. The second match of last season happened on the final matchday.

The El Clásico of the ISL

That one was also a nail-biter with Uche and Alfaro scoring one for each side within the first 15 minutes. Then Uche scored again, ten minutes before halftime and for a long time that looked to be it. But just four minutes before full time, Alfaro again popped up and saved a draw for Pune.

Will Pune finally have the ability to beat Delhi consistently? They have at least snatched their manager from last season as Miguel Ángel Portugal has jumped over to Pune after minimal success with Delhi. Portugal is a product of Real Madrid’s coaching school while Delhi’s new manager, Josep Gombau, has coached Barcelona’s B team for six years.

That basically means this is an El Clásico of coaching in the ISL, which in itself makes for an interesting prospect. If Gombau wants to bring success to what is a very underachieving franchise, a good start against their regular whipping boys Pune could be a good place to start.