As the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season approaches its conclusion in April, the upcoming month of March assumes a pivotal role for participating teams.

Although featuring a comparatively lighter schedule of 17 fixtures, in contrast to the bustling 29 in February, this month holds immense significance. Teams are poised to strategically navigate these contests, aiming to solidify their positions in the top half of the table and secure coveted playoff spots.

What sets March apart is the revival of year-old rivalries, adding an extra layer of intensity to the matches. In this crucial phase of the season, teams aren't just battling for three points but also for pride and the bragging rights associated with these historic clashes.

As we delve into the best fixtures lined up for March 2024 in the ISL, the stage is set for a captivating blend of competition and nostalgia.

Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters FC (March 2, Saturday, Bengaluru)

In this highly anticipated showdown, Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC are poised to revive their intense rivalry. This encounter serves as a rematch of the season opener, where Kerala Blasters FC secured a 2-1 victory over the Blues. Since that initial clash, the two teams have experienced divergent trajectories.

Bengaluru FC, currently positioned ninth in the standings, has amassed just 11 points from 12 matches this season. In contrast, the Blasters have flourished, garnering an impressive 26 points in 12 games, propelling them to the top of the standings as they enter the second half of the season.

While Kerala Blasters FC carries favorable form, Bengaluru FC aims to leverage their home ground support to alter the course of their season.

Known for their intense encounters in the past, both teams have a storied history of battling it out on the field. Expect a fierce contest as Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC lock horns, with both sides vying for crucial points and local bragging rights.

Hyderabad FC vs NorthEast United FC (March 4, Monday, Hyderabad)

Matchweek 18 will witness Hyderabad FC taking on NorthEast United FC in what promises to be a compelling clash. Previous encounters have showcased the competitive spirit between these two teams. Analysing their recent league performances and their past meetings adds an extra layer of anticipation. 

Hyderabad FC are currently bottom of the table and remain the only team in the league yet to secure a win this season. NorthEast United FC, find themselves in a better spot compared to their opponents, placed sixth. However, they have been winless in their past seven matches. During this run, they were also held to a 1-1 draw by Hyderabad FC at their home venue in Guwahati, where they have produced some strong results this season.  

It will be interesting to see what the upcoming encounter holds, with both teams keen to improve their current positions in the league table. 

East Bengal FC vs Mohun Bagan SG (March 10, Sunday, Kolkata):

The Kolkata derby is a fixture steeped in history and passion. Having crossed swords for years, the rivalry between these two powerhouses is legendary. This season's encounters have already set the stage for a riveting showdown. 

East Bengal FC has notched up two victories against Mohun Bagan SG in the ongoing season, securing wins in both the Durand Cup and the Kalinga Super Cup. Despite these triumphs, the Mariners managed to turn the tide in their favour during the final of the Durand Cup, clinching a victory over their arch-rivals.

As they prepare for their final Kolkata Derby of the season, following the earlier fixture in February, both teams are eager to create another memorable moment by winning this famed rivalry match. Regardless of the outcome of the previous encounter, the upcoming Derby holds significant importance for both East Bengal FC and Mohun Bagan SG, offering them a chance to leave a lasting mark on their season. 

The stage is set for a thrilling clash as these two football powerhouses vie for supremacy in this iconic fixture.

Kerala Blasters FC vs Mohun Bagan SG (March 13, Wednesday, Kochi)

Kerala Blasters FC will Mohun Bagan SG in a clash that promises excitement. The historical significance of this fixture, combined with the recent results between these two teams, adds spice to the encounter. 

In December, Mohun Bagan SG faced a setback at their home ground as they succumbed to a defeat against Kerala Blasters FC, marking the first time the Kochi-based side secured a victory over them in the ISL. Despite the loss, Mohun Bagan SG is determined to seek revenge, even as they travel to Kochi for their upcoming encounter.

The Mariners carry fond memories from the previous season in Kochi, where they achieved a resounding 5-2 victory against the Blasters. Notably, Dimitri Petratos played a starring role, stealing the show with a memorable hat-trick. With the desire for payback and the recollection of their impressive performance last season, Mohun Bagan SG aims to make a strong statement in their forthcoming clash against Kerala Blasters FC.

Both teams have showcased their prowess this season, and the match is sure to be a spectacle as they aim to outdo each other. Fans in Kochi can anticipate a thrilling contest with potential twists and turns.

FC Goa vs Bengaluru FC (March 14, Thursday, Goa)

Matchweek 19 offers a showdown between FC Goa and Bengaluru FC, two teams known for their attacking prowess and tactical brilliance. Previous meetings have often been closely contested, and their clashes this season will be under scrutiny once again. 

This season, encounters between FC Goa and Bengaluru FC have been closely contested affairs. The teams initially played out a goalless draw in October, setting the tone for their competitive matchups. In a subsequent meeting during the Kalinga Super Cup, the Gaurs managed to secure a hard-fought victory against the Blues, underlining the intense nature of their clashes.

As the teams gear up for their upcoming fixture, fans can anticipate another closely contested battle. In the current ISL league table standings, FC Goa and Bengaluru FC find themselves at opposite ends. The Blues, positioned six spots below Manolo Marquez’s side, face the challenge of narrowing the gap. While FC Goa remains undefeated this season, securing a win would significantly boost Bengaluru FC’s confidence and elevate their campaign in the league. The upcoming match promises to be a pivotal encounter for both teams.

Jamshedpur FC vs Kerala Blasters FC (March 30, Saturday, Jamshedpur FC)

In the closing days of March, Jamshedpur FC takes on Kerala Blasters FC in a fixture that could have significant implications for the playoff race. 

In their encounters this season, both sides have faced each other once, each securing a victory. Kerala Blasters FC emerged triumphant in their initial ISL meeting back in October at their home ground in Kochi. However, the dynamics shifted during the Kalinga Super Cup, where Jamshedpur FC defied the odds to clinch a thrilling victory against Kerala Blasters FC. Under the guidance of coach Khalid Jamil, Jamshedpur FC delivered an impressive group stage campaign, finishing unbeaten and earning a spot in the semi-finals.

Now, with Jamshedpur FC set to host the Blasters at their home turf, they aim to leverage the advantage of playing in familiar surroundings. The upcoming clash promises to be a fiercely contested battle, with both teams seeking to secure a crucial win and make their mark in the ongoing season.