ISL 2018 | Best XI from Game Phase 2 so far

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ISL 2018 | Best XI from Game Phase 2 so far

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Subhayan Dutta

10/27/2018

ISL has definitely had a major upgrade this season with the viewers seeing more teamwork and fluent passing play than ever. However, there are also players capable of influencing the game, and sometimes outcomes, singlehandedly and we bring the best eleven of that lot from game phase 2 so far.

Goalkeeper 

Francisco Dorronsoro – Though Delhi Dynamos have played only three games in the league’s second phase so far, winning none, drawing two, and conceding three goals, Franciso Dorronsoro has only been picked for his performance against Chennaiyin FC in their last match. The Spaniard was impenetrable making as many as seven saves throughout the match. In the second half, the indomitable custodian became so frustrating that John Gregory had turned towards the camera and signalled three stating that CFC should have been up by three goals if not for him. ISL is still in its nascent stages with standard goalkeeping a very distant expectations but Dorronsoro could well be pioneering that. 

Defence 

John Johnson - ATK are en route to having one of those forgettable seasons where their performances have been very average and gloomy, to put it mildly. Like Mumbai City FC last season, whose style of play neither threatened and nor did it affect other teams, Steve Coppell’s run with the two-time defending champions could end similarly. However, amidst this monotonous run, one player that has stood out is the Bengaluru FC import. Starting beside the inconsistent Gerson Viera, Johnson has proved his worth and although not the leader of the team, he has been the man on more than one occasion to give the forward line all the liberty. He also scored the winner against Chennaiyin FC yesterday.

Pritam Kotal - Another one of those examples where the player has surpassed his team’s below-par performance by his individual displays. The skipper of the side, Kotal has easily been Delhi’s livewire in the season so far, leaving one to wonder how big a difference could one full-back actually make in a team. Relentless in his approach and always looking for the kill, the 25-year-old left back has been seen playing in the central midfield and also on the left back. He has one goal and one assist so far, and if Delhi are sitting just three points behind fourth-placed Jamshedpur FC, it is only because of the enforcer.

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Mourtada Fall - For Goa’s footballing blueprint, someone like Mourtada Fall would be considered a liability. The free flowing play that the Gaurs have been playing in the last two seasons doesn’t really have a place for a physically imposing centre-half but Fall has made the position his own with some assuring displays. One look around the players around him and you will be forced to observe his adaptive qualities in the set-up. However, he is the monster Sergio Lobera needed to deal with set-pieces and tackle physically dominant players that was on display against Chennayin FC in their last match.

Midfield 

Edu Bedia - When he had come to Goa from Real Zaragoza last season, he had looked like a polished product suited for the league who could dribble past defenders, find the key passes and become the quintessential Spanish playmaker that ISL was yet to see. However, Bedia mellowed down after some impressive displays and with Manuel Lanzarote taking the playmaker’s role, he was pushed more to the deep midfield. This season, Bedia has both experience and chance to prove his mettle and he is doing exactly that. His performance against Mumbai City FC was complete as he pulled the strings beautifully with his world-class volley being the cherry on the cake.

Raphael Augusto - He has easily been the best midfielder any team has seen in the season so far. He is fast, he is strong, and he has all the creative attributes to be the attacking midfield role. With Gregory Nelson starting on the bench of late for the Marina Machans, CFC’s best or the only real source of goals is Augusto. Deft with both his feet, the Brazilian plays at the heart of the setup and if only he had got better forwards up front, Chennaiyin would have rightly started the campaign as the defending champions. Against the Dynamos, Augusto was a master class with three shots on target, creating two chances, perfecting seven tackles and also having six interceptions. However, his display against ATK was marred with unnecessary fouls. 

Jackichand Singh - He was always meant to shine the brightest in the sky of Indian football. And although his career took a terrible nosedive in the middle where he actually had the chance to rise above all, it seems that the time is now, under Lobera. His pace on the ball and finishing, which had made him a household sensation once upon a time, seems to have been returning gradually and it is only because of Goa’s style of play. Pushing club regular Mandar Rao Desai to the full-back position, Jackie has been coordinating well with Corominas and Bedia on the left and even managed to score against Mumbai City FC last game.

Manuel Lanzarote - ATK have been scoring goals this season, and a bit too frequently for a side managed by Steve Coppell. While the side has names like Balwant Singh, Kalu Uche, and Everton Santos, who have all proved their scoring credentials in the league, their lynchpin has undoubtedly been the FC Goa import. Lethal with his left foot, Lanzarote can create from almost anywhere in the field and when nothing is going north for his side, he can even score from set-pieces. Probably the best dead ball specialist in the ISL right now, ATK have been threat almost always from set pieces.  

Attack 

Bartholomew Ogbeche - The Nigerian forward has announced his arrival and how! ISL saw two brilliant strikers emerging last season – Ferran Corominas and Miku – and it looks like the crowd would be chanting another name this time, Bartholomew Ogbeche. Scoring five goals in four matches, the striker not only leads the race for the golden boot but is also the heartbeat for the Highlanders who are running high in confidence. However, Ogbeche would be equally grateful to Eelco Schattorie, who is playing him as a proper striker to finishing things off and not as a false no.9, despite his physical attributes for the latter’s role.

Miku - Bengaluru FC have one of those teams who has played the fewest games (3) in the league so far, with their forwards getting very few chances. However, that hasn’t stopped the striker from getting on the score sheet. Playing in a team that has a fluid attacking setup with Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh flanking Miku in the centre, the South American doesn’t always get the opportunities even if he does want to score. And it is this what makes Miku special. Like Roberto Firmino of Liverpool, Miku is selfless and hardly goes for glory. BFC’s last match against FC Pune City saw the striker getting an assist and a goal where he exhibited how good a team player he is.

Sunil Chhetri - The skipper of the side, Chhettri is what keeps Bengaluru together. Apart from being the biggest crowd puller for the club, it is also his quality and leadership that makes him the livewire in the side. Otherwise, how would you explain players like Erik Paartalu and Miku looking up to the Indian skipper for inspiration? Easily the best striker the nation has ever produced, Chhetri can score from the unlikeliest of chances and never seems to be off-form. He has scored three goals in three matches taking his ISL tally to 20 from 36 games in total. While he has to thank Miku immensely for drawing away defenders from the left flank, where Chhetri plies his inverted forward role, his finishing abilities are unquestionable.

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