Top midfielders of Hero ISL 2018-19 so far
Midfielders play a pivotal role in modern-day football, which is often driven by the ability and skills possessed by players linking the attack and the defence. The Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 campaign, too, has witnessed some of these artists at work, with surely more to come in the business end of the tournament. Nonetheless, we turn the looking glass on some of the best midfielders who have left a mark so far this season.
Dimas Delgado (Bengaluru FC)
Signed a year-and-a-half ago, Delgado is now an established name in the Hero ISL, with his reputation as a game-changer solidifying more and more with every passing match. The Blues' boss, Carles Cuadrat, is a big admirer of the Spaniard’s qualities both on and off the ball. Playing nine matches and clocking around 705 minutes already this season, the 35-year-old former FC Barcelona reserve player has provided two assists alongside distributing the ball with 79.39% passing accuracy. Delgado's role as a deep-lying playmaker also requires him to help out his defence and the Spaniard has been equally efficient in his defensive duties, putting in 18 tackles and intercepting the play eight times. On the back of such numbers, it would be safe to assume that Bengaluru are serious contenders for the title with Delgado in their team.
Ahmed Jahouh (FC Goa)
Sergio Lobera’s bold tactics involve playing out from the back and using it to lure the opposition high up the pitch to free up space for the attackers in the opponent's half. The risky ploy essentially requires a midfield general who is exceptional on the ball, while being equally intelligent with his distribution. Ahmed Jahouh is exactly that kind of a player and his numbers this season further vindicates exactly why he is the pivot point for the impressive FC Goa side. The Gaurs' no. 5 is 3rd on the list for most passes completed while his tally of 53 successful tackles is mighty impressive for a midfielder. However, Jahouh’s influence isn’t just limited to dictating play. Using his vision and passing range, the 30-year-old defensive midfielder has conjured up three assists for himself too, thus adding to his reputation as one of the league's best.
Paulo Machado (Mumbai City FC)
Joining the Islanders barely four months ago, Machado took his time to warm up to the Hero ISL. But once the creative maestro found his footing, his impact has been obvious. It comes as little surprise that Machado finding form has directly coincided with Mumbai's sensational resurgence after a rocky start. Having played all 12 matches, the 32-year-old combative midfielder has scored a solitary goal and assisted three of his team’s 20 goals so far this season. His ability to control the tempo of the match and exceptional positional awareness have helped the Islanders set a club-record unbeaten run. Machado is also a goal threat from distance, which makes him a swiss-army knife in Jorge Costa's disposal.
Federico Gallego (NorthEast United FC)
Currently 4th in the Hero ISL table, the Highlanders have come a long way since their disastrous last season, which saw them finish bottom of the table. The phenomenal turnaround, in large parts, can be attributed to the creative talents of one Federico Gallego. Moving on loan from Boston River just a few months back, the 28-year-old has been the launchpad for most of NorthEast’s attacks, helping Bartholomew Ogbeche and others reach their maximum potential. The Uruguayan’s numbers aren’t bad either - scoring three and assisting five goals already this season. He tops the assists chart alongside FC Goa's Ferran Corominas. Furthermore, Gallego is also the top-distributor in the Highlanders unit, racking up 672 passes with a healthy 63.54% accuracy. Gallego embodies the classic no. 10 with the freedom to drift around the pitch, causing havoc in the opponent's half.
Rowllin Borges (NorthEast United FC)
Gallego’s decisive contribution at the top end of the pitch could not have been possible without the selfless yards put in by a certain 26-year-old India international. Playing his third season with the Highlanders, Borges has formed a formidable partnership with Jose Leudo in the centre of NorthEast’s midfield. The Goa-born midfielder has hardly missed a minute for Eelco Schattorie’s side, playing every minute of every match so far this season. Utilizing his inexhaustible energy, Borges has scored two goals and assisted a further couple at the business end of the pitch, while also contributing with 42 tackles and 18 interceptions in the defensive side of things.