Box-To-Box by Arata Izumi: My best XI from the opening week

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

Standout Performers: My Team of the Week

What a great start to the season! I had the pleasure of catching some of the matches during the first week of the 2018-19 Hero Indian Super League (ISL) and I am delighted to share my views on some of the players that really stood out.

A majority of the games were highly enjoyable with end-to-end action and world-class goals. There were some really good individual performances, but I have narrowed down my top 11 players.

DEFENCE

Starting out with the goalkeeper, I was extremely impressed with the performance of Dheeraj Singh in goal. Despite his tender age and the fact that this is his first Hero ISL season, he showed immense calmness and composure at the back for Kerala Blasters FC and did well to get a clean sheet in the opening game against ATK.

In defence, Tiri from Jamshedpur FC and Sandesh Jhingan from Kerala were rock solid and undoubtedly, the best performers. My pick for the right-back spot would go to Mohamad Rakip of Kerala. He might not have been the most standout performer, but I think he handled the pressure quite well and will definitely go from strength to strength as the league progresses.

Completing my list of defenders is Lalruatthara from Kerala again, at left-back. He has to be the most energetic full-back in the league at the moment, owing to his lung-bursting runs down the flanks.

MIDFIELD

One of the standout players of the first match-week had to be Ahmed Jahouh. The Moroccan midfielder was truly instrumental at the centre of the park for FC Goa, with his masterful control of the game’s pace. I was left awestruck by his positional awareness and passing accuracy and I feel he truly merited the Hero of the Match award against Chennaiyin FC.

Mario Arques was also equally impressive for Jamshedpur. His creativity and aggression will be a huge boon for Jamshedpur as they go ahead in the season. I feel he can really bring a lot to the table with his ability to contribute to the goals and he is the kind of player, managers crave to have in their starting line-up.

My final pick for the midfield spots goes to NorthEast United FC’s summer signing Federico Gallego. The Uruguayan was alert enough to score their first goal against FC Goa, outfoxing Mohammad Nawaz in goal. His physical strength and awareness will be pivotal to Eelco Schattorie’s side.

ATTACK

I have gone with two players from FC Goa in attack. The first is Jackichand Singh, who was an absolute livewire during his club debut against the Highlanders. He was a nightmare for the defenders with his clever runs and dribbles down the flanks.

My team of the week wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Ferran Corominas. Given his goal-scoring abilities, it’s no wonder that he already leads the scoring charts. The timing of his runs and the accuracy of his shots on goal are what sets him apart from the rest.

Bengaluru’s Miku takes the final spot in my team. The game between the Blues and Chennaiyin was my personal favourite of the week. The intensity was of a very high standard and both teams had chances to win the game. But Miku proved to be the only difference between the two sides. What I admire most about him is his consistency in front of goal.

COACH

The performances of Bengaluru, Goa and NorthEast were quite commendable. These teams displayed good organisation and they played as a unit. Now Goa and Bengaluru have almost the same team from last year, but NorthEast have completely revamped their squad. Hence, I believe Eelco Schattorie deserves a lot of credit. Perhaps, he can be the man to finally deliver success to the Highlanders.

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