All games carry the same three points is a myth in football. In the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), some games carry the weightage of rivalry, inbred in the teams and in the fans. This rivalry goes beyond just three points, beyond the bragging rights, with the contest being wrestled for the pride of travelling fans at times while the other times, its played for the honour of the home fans.

Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC share an exquisite and one of the oldest rivalries in the Hero ISL. When these two clubs from the two southern coastal cities meet on the field on Tuesday, fans will be up for a battle off the field as Kerala Blasters FC host Chennaiyin FC in the Matchweek 19 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Kochi.

It all started on 16th December 2014, when the semi-final between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC was well poised to enter the penalty shootout, but late drama ensued as Stephen Pearson slotted in past the keeper at the 117th minute. Despite winning the game, the Marina Machans lost 3-4 in aggregate to Kerala Blasters FC in a dramatic encounter which saw three red cards and nine yellow cards being shown. Once the blue Marina Arena was painted yellow that day, the rivalry had officially begun.

"The rivalry between Kerala Blasters FC and Chennaiyin FC started from the inaugural season of the Hero ISL. What happened previously in previous seasons of the league doesn't necessarily have an impact going forward," stated Hero ISL anchor Khuri Irani.

Both clubs have faced each other on 19 occasions across nine seasons, with Chennaiyin FC holding an edge over Kerala Blasters FC. The Marina Machans have won six times while the Yellow Army have won five times so far. However, the Tuskers have remained the stronger outfit against their southern rivals in the last five occasions spanning across two seasons.

"It's very, very difficult to call this one. It's probably one of the tightest rivalries with the way that they're playing this season. And I think it's probably one of the closest rivalries out of all the rivalries that we talk about in the Hero ISL," said Hero ISL commentator Mark Tompkins.

In the reverse fixture in Chennai, Kerala Blasters FC started strong and exploited the spaces between the opponent midfielders and defenders. In the 23rd minute, Ivan Kaliuzhnyi ran into the midfield and put a defense-splitting pass for Sahal Abdul Samad, who chipped the ball above the charging goalkeeper to open the scoring.

"Kerala Blasters FC started really well in that game and they played some nice football. Thomas Brdaric wanted to play a different kind of style to try and stop Kerala Blasters FC coming through midfield," said Mark Tompkins.

"The reverse pass came into Sahal Abdul Samad on a 1 vs 1 with the goalkeeper. And he lifted the ball over the goalkeeper with a great finish, great technique and a fantastic goal," Phil Brown, the expert, vividly recollected the first goal of Kerala Blasters FC in Chennai in this season.

After trailing 0-1 at the half time, Brdaric changed his tactics and brought Rahim Ali on the left wing at half-time. It paid dividends as Ali's well connected volley in the 48th minute forced goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill to make a save but Vincy Baretto capitalized on the rebound and slotted it into the net. Phil Brown remembered this phase of play and considered that these Indian players would be the key in the reverse fixture too.

"(In the second goal), three Indians were there and all ticked the boxes, Rahim Ali for the strike, Gill for the save, Vincy Barretto for the goal. So there is a lot of Indian talent in this game, in the final third and that is something that we need to improve on going forward," the expert, Phil Brown added.

The rivalry weighs high when one compares their past successes. Chennaiyin FC are the two-time Hero ISL champions whereas Kerala Blasters FC are three-time Hero ISL finalists. Despite the rivalry behind this fixture, the head coaches of both Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC have mutual respect for each other as both the coaches have known each other long before their coaching days.

"Kerala Blasters FC's coach Ivan Vukomanovic is a great guy and an experienced coach. To play against him is special because we have already played against each other," Chennaiyin FC head coach Thomas Brdaric added.

"Well, from a technical and tactical side, it will not be different from any other game we prepare. It goes about playing against one team who won the title in the previous seasons and it gives something nice, especially for our fans, especially for Kerala Blasters FC," said the KBFC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic.

Though coaches admire each other, there is no love lost between the players. Anirudh Thapa, the Chennaiyin FC skipper, is one of the few players in the current squad who has played against Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi. The midfielder was an integral part when the Marina Machans won 6-3 against the Yellow Army in the Hero ISL 2019-20 season. Thapa considered this fixture as their biggest game of the season.

"(The) rivalry between Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC, for us is the biggest game of the season. The fans are really excited about it, that gives us a little bit of nervousness and excitement," said Anirudh Thapa, who shares good bonding with Sahal Abdul Samad, of the opposite camp.

Sahal Abdul Samad, the local Hero, loves to score against his southern rival. He has scored three times against the Marina Machans, including the reverse fixture. Samad acknowledged the pressure of playing against Chennaiyin FC but has his eyes set on executing his head coach's blueprint.

"The players feel excitement, and also, in some parts of the area we feel nervousness. But as we enter the ground, everything goes away. We just play a game according to our plan and that's how we get into the field," Sahal said.

Gone are the days, when opponent players loved to play in front of the jam packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi. Ivan Vukomanović's aggressive football and the Yellow Army fans' loudest Boos has changed Kallor into a hell for the opponents. In the ongoing season, Kerala Blasters FC have won six games out of eight in Kochi, the highest in their Hero ISL history. Erik Paartalu is of the opinion that Chennaiyin FC's visit to Kochi is not going to be an easy one this time.

"Any team going down to Kochi is going to have a difficult assignment. Kerala Blasters FC supporters are trying to claw and pull the Chennaiyin FC faithful down at any possible opportunity they get," said Hero ISL expert Erik Paartalu.

Kerala Blasters FC come to this game on the back of a 0-1 defeat against East Bengal FC whereas Chennaiyin FC arrive in Kochi after a 2-2 tough draw with Odisha FC. A win is crucial for both the teams as three points would keep Chennaiyin FC in the playoffs race. As for the Blasters, a win would bring them one step closer to securing qualification in the playoffs. Both Erik Paartalu and Phil Brown considered Chennaiyin FC as a strong opponent but routing for the home team as tides were in favor of Kerala Blasters FC.

"Out of the two teams, I've got to see, Chennaiyin FC is having a good second half to the season, but I think Kerala Blasters FC will probably edge it," said Phil Brown.

"Chennaiyin FC have probably dominated the fixtures over the years. But I think that right now Kerala Blasters FC (have an advantage) with the season they are having. They are more consistent than Chennaiyin FC and everything is pointing in the direction of the Kerala Blasters FC going and getting a result against Chennaiyin FC," Paartalu concluded.