Box-to-box by Arata Izumi: A week to remember in the Hero ISL

Follow former Hero ISL star Arata Izumi as he gives you a player’s perspective on all things ISL over the course of the 2018-19 season. New posts every week exclusively on indiansuperleague.com. Connect with Arata on Instagram @arataizumi or Twitter @neel0731

Week 6 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 was a memorable one for a host of reasons. We saw NorthEast United FC pull off one of the greatest comebacks in league history, while Sunil Chhetri once again proved why he is one of the best in the business after his heroics against FC Goa. In addition to Chhetri, there were 10 other players who really caught my eye, so here’s my best XI for the week.

DEFENCE

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had his best match of the season against FC Goa. He showed great anticipation and presence of mind throughout the 90 minutes. Undoubtedly, one of the stars of the week, he deserves a spot on the team.

Gurpreet’s team-mate Rahul Bheke was also exceptional this week. I have been really impressed with his super sharp reactions and positional sense. The one quality which makes him stand out is his ability to contribute in attack.  His back-heel goal was a thing of beauty, which shows his ability to make the right decisions in the final third. And let’s not forget that crucial last-minute tackle to prevent Goa from scoring the equaliser. Sensational stuff!

Once again, Tiri makes my team of the week. He is one of the most reliable defenders in the league and Jamshedpur are lucky to have this man at the back. Gerson Vieira of ATK takes the other centre back spot. Although he was deployed as a defensive midfielder this week, I don’t think anyone put in a better defensive performance. He played some intelligent forward passes and was equally adept at the back, making some crucial tackles.

Completing my list of defenders would be Ashutosh Mehta of FC Pune City. His positional sense ensured that his team avoided danger at crucial stages of the match against Jamshedpur.

MIDFIELD

My first pick in midfield goes to Michael Soosairaj. He perfectly displayed his importance to the team with his sublime running with the ball. The Chennaiyin defence simply had no answer for him.

The Spanish pair of Mario Arques and Carlos Calvo were also equally impressive for Jamshedpur. They both had a good match against Chennai and posed a threat from set-piece situations.

Ashique Kuruniyan of FC Pune City was electric for Pune again. A large part of the Stallions’ first victory of the season was down to this youngster’s performance against Jamshedpur. I really enjoyed his energetic runs down the flanks and that piledriver of a shot, which unfortunately hit the bar.

ATTACK

My team of the week wouldn’t be complete without mentioning super-sub Juan Mascia. He did everything the coach would have asked of him having earned the crucial penalty before scoring a dramatic winner. He gifted three very important points to NorthEast United and killed Kerala Blasters’ hopes.

Finally, we come to captain fantastic Chhetri. Time and again, he has stepped in when his team needed him the most. The goal, the technique and determination he displayed to find the back of the net was from another level. In my opinion, that was one of the goals of the season so far.

COACH

Hats off to Carles Cuadrat for making Bengaluru the most consistent side in the league. To go to the Fatorda Stadium and collect all three points against a formidable Goa side speaks volumes of the kind of work done so far. I really look forward to how the Blues will progress under him this season.

Do you agree with my team of the week? Have your say in the comments section below.

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