ISL Team of the Week: Matchweek 1
After a successful first season, Indian Super League 2015 kicked off in style last week. The first week witnessed some intriguing matches with a number of goals being scored. In the nine matches played so far, as many as 23 goals were scored at an average of 2.36 goals per match.Six points from two matches against Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United have seen David Platt's side sit on top of the table with six points. Kerala Blasters, Atletico de Kolkata and FC Goa are second, third and fourth respectively with four pointsPortuguese star Helder Postiga's brace helped the defending ISL champions pull off their first victory of the season. He later sustained a major injury forcing him out for atleast a month. The Kolkata-based outfit settled for a 1-1 draw against FC Goa, after Keenan Almedia’s 81st minute goal helped Goa to cancel Arata Izumi’s first-minute goal in their second match. FC Goa sealed their first win of the season by defeating Delhi Dynamos 2-0 in the opening match at home. After drawing 1-1 with the ATK side at home, Zico’s side had a major setback when they were humiliated 4-0 by Chennaiyin FC on Sunday.Last season's table toppers, Chennaiyin FC after struggling in the first two matches, bounced back strongly against FC Goa in the third match.NorthEast United is the only club without a point so far and they are placed at the bottom of the table. A goalless draw against Kerala Blasters has seen Mumbai City pick their first point of the match and are seventh on the table.So who makes it to the team of the week? We’ve used a 4-4-2 formation to show you.
The experienced keeper, who has played for as many as thirteen English clubs throughout his career was very impressive this week. His commanding presence at the back for the Kerala Blasters side provided a lot of confidence to the team’s defensive line. Bywater made a brilliant one is to one save denying North East United striker Nicholas Valez in the first match. Surely the day’s best save.
He kept up his good performance against Mumbai City FC making a couple of very good saves especially from striker Sony Norde. With vast experience, the Enlish goalkeeper has ideally taken up the role of a leader in the Blasters team.
John Arne Riise
The 36 year old Norwegian defender has been on top of his game this week. His superb diving header that intercepted Chennaiyin striker Mendoza’s shot which was on course to test goalkeeper Sanjiban Ghosh, shows how dedicated he is to the team.
Riise took time to adapt to his new surroundings in the first match against FC Goa. With time he has gradually settled down. Other than his diffensive abilities, he is gifted with a superb right foot. Riise is capable of scoring goals from acute angles with his powerful right foot and this can be an advantage for any team he plays for.
Cmovs has been rock solid in defence for Mumbai City FC team in both the matches. He won everything in the air against the Kerala strikers for the Mumbai side against Kerala Blasters. Cmovs had to cover the right-back Asutosh Mehta on at least four occasions to deny Ishfaq Ahmed and CK Vineeth.
Against FC Pune City, he tried his best to mark Tuncay Sanli throughout the game. It was due to the lack of communication between the Mumbai defenders, which costed them the goals. Cmovs has everything that it takes to become a star of the tournament.
The 28-year old left back started the first match as a right back before being shifted to his prefered left side. In the first two matches Roy was a live wire keeping the sides very active for the Goan team. So far he has combined well with Reinaldo and Mandar in attack.
But the last match against Chennaiyin FC was more of a nightmare for him with the fourth goal being scored from his side. Roy was unable to track back and defend everytime he went up to support the attackers. This is something that he has to work on.
During the second match against ATK, Goa’s plan of utilizing Romeo Fernandes’ pace down the right completely flopped as Augustin Fernandes didn’t let the Goan winger get past him even once. He covered the Goan midfielder superbly as Romeo was not able to pose any threat for the ATK defence from the right side.
Slotted into an unfimilar role in the first match, the left back covered his side well. With time the young Goan defender is becoming more confident. ATK can ideally utilise his overlapping runs to create more attacking moves for the team
Ex- Chelsea star Malouda has been instrumental for the Delhi side. The Frenchmen is linking well with Gadze and Dos Santos in Delhi Dynamos’ attacking line. Malouda has been initiating the attacking moves for the Delhi team in both matches, creating space and opportunities for the strikers to convert. We saw a lot of his neat touches and dribbles during the games. With more support, he can be lethal for any defence.
The 26-year old Indian midfielder was the best performer of the week. His performance against Mumbai City FC was top notch with two assissts and one goal. Israil received lot of praises from Pune Coach David Platt for his superb performance. The winger’s pin point crosses were converted comfortably by striker Tuncay Sanli, during the first match.
In the second match, Gurung was comparitively subdued since he was marked brilliantly throughout the game. Also the Pune players were hardly able to provide passess for him due to the heavy marking by North East United players.
Providing two assissts and scoring one goal, the Brazilian maestro tore apart the FC Goa defence completely in the last match. Last year’s top scorer started exactly from where he left. Elano is famous for his menacing freekicks and has scored maximum of his goals last year through freekicks.
The Brazilian midfielder has proved last year how he can single handedly pull the whole team on his shoulders. With more support from Columbian striker Mendoza, Elano is all set to win the trophy for the Chennai based franchise team this year.
Mandar Rao Desai
Desai’s lightning fast pace along with his ability to cover the left side for the FC Goa team will be a threat for any defence. In their first match against Delhi Dynamos, the young winger showcased a man of the match performance scoring his team’s first goal of the tournament. An absolute live wire, Desai could be the hero of the tournament if he keeps up this performance.
Even in the last match against Chennaiyin FC he tried his best to use the wings but due to lack of attacking players up front the young winger was not able to create any kind of impact on the game.
Last year’s most prolific striker of the tournament, the Columbian is back in form this year with a hattrick against FC Goa on Sunday. Not only did he score three goals, but he has also been instrumental for his side in the last match.
With support coming in from Elano in the midfield, he can rip apart any team’s defence single handedly. The current top scorer of the first week, Mendoza is all fit to score more goals for the Chennayin side now.
The Turkish star marked his arrival in ISL with a brace against Mumbai City FC. His presence at the far post looking for the crosses from Gurung was something Mumbai couldn’t deal with in the first match.
Interestingly Sanli did not start the next game since marquee striker Adrian Mutu was fully fit. This can be a problem for the Turkish striker since Mutu’s presence in the team can limit his playing time for the Pune franchise. With waves of support coming in from the Pune fans, Sanli is surely enjoying his time in India.