The most accomplished midfield generals from Hero ISL 2018-19
The success and appeal of a modern football team, from a fan’s perspective, often revolves around their ability to find the back of the net on regular intervals without having to retort to a more direct route towards it. Midfielders, as a result, become a paramount asset with teams banking on their vision and ball-manipulating skills to uncover the most mesmerizing path to goal.
The Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 edition saw a plethora of such talented masters at work, each with more profound and creative ideas than the other. Rolling back the clock, we list the five best midfielders from the fifth season of the Hero ISL.
Ahmed Jahouh – FC Goa
The fall of the Gaurs following the Moroccan’s sending off late in the final is the biggest tribute to the masterful genius of the 30-year-old. Operating at the base of Sergio Lobera’s ever-evolving midfield, Jahouh has spread passes around all season with such ease and class, helping those in front of him get heavy goalscoring numbers while staying largely under the shadows himself. The Hero ISL crown would have been the perfect reward for his artistry, but nonetheless, he would be pleased by his overall performance through the campaign. He completed a league-high 1400+ passes in 20 matches at a staggering accuracy of more than 75%, earning three assists from those. The Moroccan was more than decent going the other way too as he topped the league for most tackles completed with 126, while also intercepted play 33 times.
Dimas Delgado – Bengaluru FC
The Spaniard’s provocative and relentless approach to the game was one of the major contributors to champions, Bengaluru FC’s triumph in the recently concluded campaign. Delgado’s versatility allowed head coach, Carles Cuadrat to base his tactics on the borderline of defense and attack, shifting to either when need be. The 36-year-old supplied five assists and scored one goal in 17 matches. He was also the champions’ best passer, completing more than 1100+ spreads at 76.76% accuracy. In the defensive phase, Delgado finished the season with 32 tackles, 20 interceptions and 16 clearances. He played the entire 120 minutes in the final and supplied the all-important assist from which Rahul Bheke scored to win the championship.
Paulo Machado – Mumbai City FC
The Spaniard arrived in the Hero ISL in August of last year and initially found it difficult to cope with the merciless intensity of the league before slowly getting to grips with it. Like his fellow countryman Delgado, the Islanders no.55 is comfortable operating in multiple positions, although does look the most dangerous when operating in behind the center-forward. In 20 matches, Machado scored two goals and assisted a further four. He completed the third-highest number of tackles in the league (93) and was Mumbai’s best passer with 925 passes at 65.83% accuracy.
Federico Gallego – NorthEast United FC
Be it bossing the midfield, chipping in with goals or helping out in defence, this man left it all on the pitch! What a phenomenal debut season in the ISL for Federico Gallego. 🙌🏻#8States1United #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/KFftvAtKcH— NorthEast United FC (@NEUtdFC) March 24, 2019
The Highlanders qualified for the semi-finals for the first time in their history this season and owed a lot of it to the Uruguayan, who since arriving to the league last year, has singled handedly formed the bridge between the NorthEast attack and midfield. Striker Bartholomew Ogbeche in particular, reaped huge rewards from the services of the 28-year-old and the two formed a formidable understanding that carried Eelco Schattorie’s men forward. Gallego finished the season with four goals and five assists. He also completed 1100+ passes and 58 tackles.
Edu Bedia – FC Goa
Another crucial part of the Gaurs XI, the Spaniard was a massive threat going forward with Lobera’s tactics liberating him of any defensive responsibility to trigger a greater assault in the final third of the pitch. Bedia’s understanding with Ferran Corominas was especially effective in this regard as it helped pin the opposition back fearing the exploitation of available space. The 29-year-old registered seven goals and five assists- a massive contribution considering his position. Bedia also completed 1288 passes in 20 matches- the second-highest tally in the division.
Rowllin Borges – NorthEast United
Alongside Gallego, Rowllin Borges was another integral part of Schattorie’s NorthEast outfit. The Indian midfielder, who is known for his ability to disrupt opposition play, added goals to his game this time around, notching up four goals and two assists over 19 matches. Hs untimely injury before NorthEast’s second leg encounter against Bengaluru might have been a crucial reason for their elimination from the competition.