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ISL 2018 | Best Indian Super League XI after second phase

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ISL 2018 | Best Indian Super League XI after second phase

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Subhayan Dutta

11/20/2018

The Indian Super League has seen their heroes changing almost every game week with players getting in and out of form very quickly. Even amidst this madness, there have been some who were able to hold their form over a period of three-four games, and they feature in our best XI of the second phase.

Goalkeeper

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu - While Francisco Dorronsoro might hog all the limelight with his acrobatic saves standing behind a leaky Delhi backline, there are very few custodians who could be credited with the ability to keep his team’s structure in shape. Bengaluru FCare obviously more organized than Delhi as far as their defence is concerned, and Sandhu is hugely responsible for it. The Indian No.1’s ball distribution is arguably the best in the business and a very safe pair of hands, which haven’t been much tested because the runners-up from last season have played the least number of matches so far.

Defence

Mailson Alves - The Brazilian centre-half could be pivotal in Chennaiyin City FC’s return to form after he led their first win of the season that came after seven matches. Given the quintessential role that Alves had played last season for the defending champions, there wasn’t any doubt that it was a matter of time before he could get back into form. But, what many didn’t realize was how much his presence could inspire the whole side. With a steep mountain to climb for Chennaiyin, John Gregory would want his captain to remain at his best for the remainder of the season.

Lucian Goian - The four wins that have put Mumbai at the third position of the table have been 2-0, 2-0, 1-0, and 1-0. The matches have almost always seen Jorge Costa’s side having very little possession and defending relentlessly time and again. And the best example of that would be their last win away against NorthEast United. The Highlanders had poured in forwards for the most part of the game and Mumbai just staved them off each and every time. Leading their backline is Goian, who was unflinching in his determination and Eelco Schattorie must have lost count how many last moment tackles the Romanian had perfected.

Nishu Kumar - Intelligent game reading, good tackler, a good idea of when to overlap and when to backtrack, and most importantly, having unparalleled stamina – a modern full back must have all these elements to excel in his trade. While Bengaluru’s Nishu Kumar might not be the best version of a defined full back, he is the best ISL has at the moment. Playing on the left flank where skipper Sunil Chhetri plies his trade, Nishu is always under pressure. And given the fact that Bengaluru have conceded only four goals this season, speaks volumes about his defensive abilities. He also has a goal to his name in five matches.

Reagan Singh - Despite ending the second phase with a frustrating defeat that the Highlanders deserved to win, no one can take away Reagan Singh’s progress this season. Playing in the perfect buildup of Schattorie, the Manipur-born player hasn’t had the chance to go up much as most of the side’s attacks are through the middle. But his discipline has definitely caught eyes. He has played over 500 minutes in six games and is yet to be booked. With a passing accuracy of 73.33%, Reagan has exacted 20 tackles and averages 47.5 passes per game.

Midfield

Ahmed Jahouh -FC Goa don’t like to be short on performers at any position anytime soon. While their forward line looks more than sorted with the attackers firing all cylinders, Sergio Lobera also enjoys the luxury of having one of best defensive midfielders in the league. The most consistent performer in the league, Jahouh has been inch perfect with his long balls almost every time and he also doesn’t shy away from doing the dirty work ahead of the backline. The main reason Jackichand Singh has been in terrific form this season has been the Moroccan midfielder, whose diagonal balls fall at the Indian’s feet like blessings.

Raphael Augusto - Is his hardwork finally reaping fruits? The Brazilian has clearly been the most efficient and hardworking player for Chennayin FC since the start of the season, but the defending champions’ horrendous run had mellowed him down a bit. However, with the side gaining lost form, his efficacy has increased manifold as he was at the heart of every chance Gregory’s side created against Pune. Playing every minute of Chennai’s game in the league in a free role, Augusto has been their go-to man on the counter, as well as while defending. The Brazilian has a whopping 72.71 average passes and 6.5 average tackles per game. 

Edu Bedia - Another candidate of the league leaders, Edu Bedia has easily been the best creator inside. Though his vision couldn’t get the required outcome in the absence of Ferran Corominas when FC Goa lost the match to Jamshedpur FC 4-1, his compatriot’s return to the side gave him wings. Though the match against Delhi Dynamos was a stern test, it was Bedia’s last-minute header that eventually gave Goa the league topping three points. And it is his awareness inside the box that makes the Spaniard extra special for a playmaker.

Arnold Issoko - What a turnaround the league has been for this man. From what seemed like one of the worst imports in the first few matches for Mumbai, the African has finally found his feet and has been destroying defence at will. Though Mumbai have won their last two matches by a 1-0 score line, they don’t do justice to Issoko’s lung bursting runs up and won the right flank, which his teammates couldn’t finish. Starting his career as a right back, Issoko also takes care of the right flank almost single-handedly that gives Jorge Costa a great chance to give Pablo Machado a free role in the attacking third.

Attack

Bartholomew Ogbeche - There are two horses in the race for the golden boot it seems with more than half of the season still left, which shows at what level the Nigerian is operating at the moment. After last season’s heroics, Ferran Corominas was expected to shine for FC Goa again but his closest competitor was mostly guessed as Miku Fedor, or Emiliano Alfaro. With both of them not in their red hot form, Ogbeche has become the fan favourite now. Like Corominas, Ogbeche has a calm about himself when inside the box, where his first touch and finishing prowess are qualities one doesn’t generally find in African players.

Ferran Corominas- There is no stopping this man. He doesn’t seem to be out of form at all. While Ogbeche has been more methodical in his approach in scoring goals, Coro has been a natural. The angles that he can exploit to put the ball at the back of the net is phenomenal. Lobera has further added an extra edge to his armour by playing him as a false no. 9 that has also led to him to assist now with Jackichand Singh, Manvir Singh, and others also into the scoring fray. Coro has eight goals and four assists to his name in just six games, which is incredible by any standard.

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