With much at stake for both Delhi Dynamos and NorthEast United going into this game, the fixture also provides an opportunity for one of the capital’s outcasts from last season to show his worth. No one in the NorthEast side knows the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the capital as well as Bruno Arias does.
The midfielder was a pivotal figure in the Delhi side last season, playing as the anchorman in the midfield alongside Hans Mulder. While Mulder still holds the same place in the Dynamos squad. Arias finds himself donning the white jersey of NorthEast United this season.
It was a topsy-turvy season for the Spaniard who was highly influential during the initial stages of last season, but his performance, like many in the squad, deteriorated as the season progressed. The 30-year-old made 10 appearances for the capital-based side, scoring on one occasion through a spot kick, but eventually lost his place to the likes of Steven Dias and Shylo Mama towards the latter half of the season.
Hailing from the same city as the likes of Jesus Navas and the late Antonio Puerta, the Spaniard exemplifies a similar short, quick passing and cutting through balls to his style of play. But for all his artistry, Arias has found it hard to maintain a regular spot in the ISL over the course of the two seasons.
Even for Cesar Farias’s side, Arias featured regularly but in the previous fixtures he has had to resort to a substitute’s role, with Simao coming back into the side. Making his mark as one of the finest passers last season, Arias has been missing a similar spark for the Highlanders this time around.
The John Abraham co-owned side currently languish in the wrong half of the table knowing that anything less than a win against the Dynamos could prove to be a fatal blow to the side’s hopes of progressing to the next round.
Despite not being in the manager’s priority list at present, Arias could prove to play a telling role against his former club. The Spaniard has the ability to string together passes and, on his day, he can dictate the game like very few can in the ISL.
With the Dynamos defence struggling against pace and with both Richard Dadzie and Nico Velez expected to start, the Spaniard could prove to be an influential figure in the side, and his defence-splitting passes could just provide the perfect avenue for the forwards to work upon.
One place where Arias could see himself improving though is his tendency to fade away as the game progresses. The Spaniard’s influence keeps going down and thus affects the overall performance of the team. Not the most sound defensively, Arias could see his work cut out by Florent Malouda in the opposite side. Not known much for his tackling and aerial prowess, Arias will have to pull his socks up against a creative Delhi side.
Arias failed to make the cut for Dynamos this season, who retained only two international players from last season. But a trip to the capital once again provides the 30-year-old with a perfect platform to showcase the Delhi crowd what they could be missing this season.