Talking Point: Marcelo and Santana swap camps, all eyes on them ahead of Odisha vs Hyderabad
Ahead of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21, one of the biggest transfer coups came to pass when Odisha FC announced the arrival of Marcelo Pereira to the club to spearhead their attack. In a quick response though, Hyderabad FC, within two weeks of Marcelo leaving the club, wooed on-loan Aridane Santana away from Odisha FC. As both teams go up against each other at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Monday, let’s run our eye over how both transfers can particularly impact the outcome of the match-up.
Can Aridane Santana replicate his form?
The Spaniard was one of the best players in the 2019-20 Hero ISL during his stint with Odisha FC which lasted 14 matches. Hyderabad FC had the second-worst shot accuracy among all the teams last season (33.76%) and with Santana in their camp now, they hope things get better this season in a big way. Plus, with the likes of Halicharan Narzary and Nikhil Poojary on the wings, the frontman will be expected to head in a lot of aerial opportunities that may come his way into the box and burgeon his tally of nine goals from last season.
Marcelo Pereira looks to have best season yet!
Golden Boot winner in his first season in the Hero ISL back in 2016 with 10 goals, Marcelo Pereira heads into his fifth edition. However, the Brazilian forward has not been able to hit double figures in the league since his debut season, and if there ever was a pressing need to bring out his best performance yet, there can’t be a better season than this as he starts from scratch for a new club where expectations are high. In the last four seasons, Marcelo has 49 goal contributions, most by an active player. His 18 assists are the most by a player in the history of the league, which means fellow frontmen Manuel Onwu and Diego Mauricio could be big beneficiaries in the game against Hyderabad and beyond.
Odisha FC’s young duo under the spotlight too
Key to Odisha’s success will be their young guns, who did more than just prove themselves last season. Winger Jerry Mawihmingthanga had five assists, the most by an Odisha player last season. He also created 22 chances and attempted 61 crosses, which was better than any of his teammates. Meanwhile, Vinit Rai completed 382 passes while boasting a passing accuracy of 75.34, the second-highest among the Odisha midfielders. He also exhibited his defensive game with 29 interceptions, the most by an Odisha midfielder. These two give Odisha a strong reason to head into Monday’s game with a lot of confidence.