The highly-anticipated return of Brazilian maestro Rafael Crivellaro to Chennaiyin FC during the summer transfer window has not only injected excitement among the supporters but has also proven to be a catalyst for the team's resurgence in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season. Reuniting with former coach Owen Coyle, under whom he enjoyed remarkable success during the 2019-20 season, Crivellaro's comeback was not without its share of scepticism, primarily due to his struggles with injuries in recent seasons.

However, as the ISL season unfolds, it's becoming increasingly clear that age is no barrier for Crivellaro. The doubts that surrounded his return are slowly dissipating, replaced by a growing confidence in his ability to make a significant impact once again.

Chennaiyin FC might not have enjoyed the smoothest start to the ongoing ISL campaign, with three consecutive losses in the initial fixtures. Yet, a shift in momentum has been evident, and credit for much of that goes to Crivellaro. In the last three games, Chennaiyin FC managed to secure two victories, and the Brazilian midfielder has been at the heart of this turnaround.

Crivellaro's influence extends beyond the scoresheet. Despite not finding the net from open play, his set-piece prowess has been on full display, with goals from a penalty and a free-kick contributing significantly to the team's tally. What sets Crivellaro apart is not just his goalscoring ability, but his role as a creative force in the midfield.

Impacting play further up the field

Operating in the coveted number 10 role under Coyle, Crivellaro has showcased his best attributes - ball retention, driving runs, and an innate ability to create opportunities even in the tightest of spaces. 

His impact is not only seen in goal contributions but also in the attacking third. As the team's leading goal contributor with two goals and two assists, Crivellaro has had a hand in four out of the seven goals Chennaiyin FC has netted so far.

Crivellaro also leads the charts for chances created in his team, showcasing his ability to be the primary playmaker. He has also played a pivotal role in orchestrating attacks, as the Chennaiyin FC player with the most passes in the opposition half. 

Beyond his creative prowess, Crivellaro is a fine carrier of the ball and has been the driving force behind Chennaiyin FC’s attacking moves. As the creative fulcrum of the team, the Brazilian has attempted the most dribbles among his teammates. The veteran midfielder has also been the joint-most fouls for his side, alongside Farukh Choudhary.

These statistics underscore Crivellaro's significance to Chennaiyin FC. Head coach Coyle remains confident in his team's ability to challenge for playoff spots, regardless of early setbacks. With Crivellaro as the linchpin, the team's ambitions for a successful campaign seem well within reach.