Rafael Crivellaro, the catalyst that Aidy Boothroyd needs at Jamshedpur FC

Jamshedpur FC will host Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday, and all eyes will be on a certain Rafael Crivellaro.

Besides his obvious connection with the visitors, having spent three years with the Chennai-based club, Crivellaro will be the centre of attention because of his sheer ability to create something out of nothing.

It’s a quality that the Chennaiyin FC fans rejoiced over the years but will now dread when they visit the Furnace to face their former star.

During his time at Chennaiyin FC, Crivellaro had eight goals and nine assists to his name. Head coach Aidy Boothroyd wants Crivellaro to be the spark that his Jamshedpur FC side desperately needs.

The Brazilian, whose Jamshedpur FC career is just four games old, has already started to make a difference.

“Crivellaro has already changed the way Jamshedpur play. They've lacked a real ball player. A dribbler that can take pressure off his teammates and give them time to push up the pitch,” says former Bengaluru FC midfielder Erik Paartalu.

“This is important on many levels, not just having a player that can link back to front. You can see, his involvement is causing the opposition issues. The pass into (Ishan) Pandita against Kerala Blasters FC where eventually (Daniel Chima) Chukwu scores, is a case in point. He is able to thread passes in a split second of receiving and then playing forward, sometimes with one touch,” adds Paartalu.

The extent of Crivellaro’s impact may not be evident yet as he hasn’t registered a goal or an assist, but he has already created eight chances in four matches. What is clear though, is that he has given Boothroyd more options in attack.

“He has immediately improved Jamshedpur FC. I thought their football before him was very one-dimensional, very direct with a lot of long balls, but with Crivellaro in the team, they like to keep the ball on the floor, build up from behind, get him on the ball and use the players around him. He has the quality, the vision and technical ability to punish any side,” former Kerala Blasters FC midfielder Darren Caldeira notes.

Jamshedpur FC have scored only nine goals this season, and the team is lacking confidence in the final third. Boothroyd addressed that in the pre-match press conference ahead of the Chennaiyin FC match.

“I think we are getting into good areas, but we don't have that final pass, or the weight of the touch is still not quite there and needs to be improved. The more chances we get, the more goals we will score,” Boothroyd said.

Jamshedpur FC have missed a creative player, who can create that bit of magic to make a difference in the game since the departure of Greg Stewart. Crivellaro certainly fits that bill, but the team needs to adapt to get the best out of the Brazilian.

“For me, Jamshedpur FC should have a good defensive midfielder. They have Bikash playing with him along with JET (Jay Emmanuel-Thomas) in midfield, but they need a defensive midfielder, someone who Crivallero can trust.” says Caldeira.

“In the final third, Crivellaro is the one who is going to produce that decisive pass, so he is somebody who shouldn't be too bothered about the defending bit. With runners like Ricky on the wing and Boris Singh as well, he can use all his qualities by getting the ball far out wide or getting Ishan Pandita and Chukwu through the centre,” he adds.

The signing of Pronay Halder will give Crivellaro that insurance, and with the likes of Chukwu, Pandita, and Boris Singh in the team, Jamshedpur FC could become a much stronger force in the second half of the season.

Crivellaro is yet to hit full stride, and the game against his former team Chennaiyin FC, can be the trigger for him to get on song. Jamshedpur FC will hope it pans out exactly that way on Saturday.

“Playing against their former clubs always brings out something a little extra, and it will be interesting to see if Crivellaro will set this game alight,” Paartalu says.

Jamshedpur FC may have left themselves too much to do in the race for the playoffs, but for Boothroyd, Crivellaro can be the player he can build a team around which can get back to the level that Jamshedpur FC have been used to.

It’s been a disappointing season for the Red Miners so far, but their latest recruit, Crivellaro can bring them back to life. The supporters travelling to the Furnace on Saturday will vouch for it.

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