After making major overhauls to their squads ahead of the new season, Odisha FC and Hyderabad FC would look to start their Indian Super League campaign on a positive note as they go up against each other.
While Hyderabad had finished with the wooden spoon last season, Odisha failed to qualify for the play-offs after an indifferent campaign.
However, veteran coach Stuart Baxter, who took over from Josep Gombau as the head coach of Odisha FC ahead of the new season put things into perspective.
“History doesn't really help anybody. The Titanic sank and Liverpool won the league last season but none of it helps this year. We have got two games against them. They got new players, we have got new players. There are a lot of things changed, so we'll approach this game based on not what could have been or what maybe,” said the Englishman ahead of the game.
As far as Baxter's side are concerned, they have made some significant additions to the squad. The biggest of them being the arrival of former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor.
They also managed to bring in Brazilian Marcelinho who was playing for Hyderabad last season.
While there is a lot of excitement surrounding Taylor and the Brazilian attacker Diego Mauricio who played against Brazilian superstars like Neymar and Ronaldinho, their head coach wants to endorse a collective approach.
“Relying on players is a very risky business. You have to be able to play without anybody if you can. Of course, our foreign players should be influential. One of the biggest influences I want them to have is to affect the Indian lads positively, encourage and help them to develop. But then again, players that people expect to score goals usually the goalscorers grab the headline. We are looking for them to be a threat but we are certainly looking at everybody to help in the development of the Indian lads," said Baxter who has over three decades worth of experience in management.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Taylor who was appointed the captain and the Englishman is relishing the responsibility.
"Big responsibilities; I think setting standards, the values, making sure that I take the pressure off my teammates and lead by example. When I do that hopefully the teammates will follow," said Taylor.
For Hyderabad, the lead up to the competition has been far from straightforward. They had to let go of veteran coach Albert Roca who was lured away by La Liga giants Barcelona.
Hyderabad went on to appoint Manuel Roca as their new head coach and the club also made some important progress off the field by tying up with German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. On the field, the likes of Aridane Santana and Lluis Sastre are expected to play a crucial role for them.
However, the focus will be on young Indian players with Hyderabad having some of the most talented youngsters within their ranks.
“Guys like Rohit Danu, Liston Colaco and Akash Mishra have a lot of potential. I’m sure that they can continue improving and become huge assets for Hyderabad in the future. We want them to show passion and if they play more games, they will go on to become important players,” said the Spaniard.
With teams coming into the tournament with little training, Manuel is not overtly focused on the first game and instead is looking at finishing the league stage strongly.
"Winning the first game is important. Although given a choice, I would take a loss in the first game if it meant winning the remaining 19," he said.