ISL 2016 Gameweek #1 – Stars and Flops
With the first week – or eight days as it were – of the Indian Super League having been wrapped up, here’s a look at the Stars and the Flops from Gameweek #1.
The flying winger from Kokrajhar, Assam has been in exceptional form in the first week. He was brilliant in the opening two games – a constant threat, both on the wings or floating in behind Emiliano Alfaro (who has been magnificent too) . The 22 year produced arguably the moment of the first week when he produced an utterly delicious flick to bisect the Goa defence and allow Alfaro to run through on goal. He was rested for the loss against Mumbai – but his introduction on the hour mark almost sparked a mini-revival for Nelo Vingada's side.
Defederico has been immense for league leaders Mumbai. In a team that has oftentimes looked surprisingly bereft of creativity, the Argentine has been a stand-out. His typically Argentinian style of dribbling (that mesmerising combination of low-centre-of-gravity and silky ball control) and purposeful intent have combined to add that all-important spark to the Mumbai line-up
Mohamed 'Momo' Sissoko
The big, bad, wolf in the pack - the former Valencia, Liverpool, Juventus and PSG star (that's some CV right there, eh?) already appears to be the best Marquee signing of the season, and he's played only one match. In that one game, though, he bossed the Goan midfield with the ease of a college senior playing amongst schoolboys. His powerful, driving, presence in the heart of the Pune midfield seems set to pay rich dividends for the Punekars and their fiery coach, Antonio Habas.
The North Easterners have been the most watchable team in the league – by a country mile. Yes, they lost to Mumbai – but that was their third game in six days and that little kink in scheduling arguably cost them the match. Nelo Vingada's side have been slick in their passing, smart in their off the ball running and have bossed the midfield throughout. Sure, points are everything at the end, but as anyone who remembers Socrates' great '82 Brazilian side will attest to, there are marks for style that no points table can ever reflect.
The 24-year Maharashtrian has been impressive for the Delhi Dynamos – weaving in and out in that inimitable style of his. His dribbling and directness have been the most stand-out attributes of his play and his combination with Marcelinho on the opposite flanks have provided some of the most sumptuous moments of Gameweek #1
The Mumbai City FC defence remains the only one that has not been breached, and for good reason. Aiborlang Khongjee, Anwar Ali, Lucian Goian and Facundo Cardozo have been a particularly solid back four, and Roberto Valpatto has had very little to do in goal and has done well when he has had to. Guimarães' lads have stuck to their task well. As any great coach will tell you - great attacks may win matches, but great defences win titles.
The Goan midfielder has been a revelation in the middle of the park for NorthEast. He's bossed games in that inconspicuous style that Sergio Busquets made so famous and has set NorthEast ticking with his metronomic passing – a much-underrated quality. The fact that he has the most passes in the ISL to his name stands a testament to that.
Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro top the goalscoring charts, but the Brazilian – whose official name is Marcelo Leite Perreira – takes the honours this week for the sheer quality of his work against Chennaiyin that gave his brace that much more shine. He was Delhi's stand out player against Kerala as well, though not as effective.
The man who took Costa Rica to their first ever World Cup (where they did pretty well, remember the entertaining 5-2 loss against Brazil and the 1-1 draw with eventual semi-finalists Turkey?) and then proceeded to guide them to the 2006 World Cup as well, has done a decent job with Mumbai, and it's no accident that the Blues are on top of the league despite having almost four of their first-teamers out with Bengaluru FC and their AFC Cup commitments.
The Kerala Blasters Home Crowd
Their team has been terribly poor, but the vociferous support has not waned. Record attendances of 65,000 + were achieved in both home games, and it added to the spectacle in a way nothing else could. They were loud (pitchside interviews were barely audible) and they were fantastic. Their team, well not so much. More of this, please!