While the star-studded and financially stable likes of Mumbai City FC and ATKMB have managed to cover every crack in their armour ahead of ISL 2020-21 season, others like Chennaiyin FC boast of complete control in the middle of the park, which can help them compete with the very best.
Here is a list of ISL teams having the best midfield set-ups going into the 2020-21 season:
MUMBAI CITY FC
Such has been the backing of the City Football Group (CFG) that the Islanders top in every footballing aspect ahead of the ISL 2020-21 season. Roping in successful ISL coach Sergio Lobera meant that the Mumbai City FC management also had to provide him with the proper tools to excel immediately. A part of that process involved buying prominent ISL stars like Ahmed Jahouh, Hugo Boumous, Cy Goddard and Farukh Choudhary, who joined Mumbai’s already established duo of Rowlin Borges and Raynier Fernandes. A fan of the 4-2-3-1 set-up, which essentially keeps the midfield heavy to assist the attack as well as the defence, Lobera’s five-man set-up in the middle of the park looks extremely balanced with the individuals providing both grit and creativity – the secrets to success in ISL.
ATK MOHUN BAGAN
The only other ISL club, apart from Mumbai City FC, to brim with star Indian footballers is ATK Mohun Bagan. The only club to have three Indian national team regulars – Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose – in their backline, ATKMB aren’t behind in the midfield as well. In Pronay Halder, Michael Soosairaj and Michael Regin, the side has an ISL winner, an I-League winner and a prodigy in the middle of the park aided by foreign recruits Edu Garcia, Javier Hernandez, Carl McHugh and Bradden Inman. Habas’ favourable five-man midfield (3-5-2) formation, which will have two holding midfielders and three wide-attacking men, might not adjust most of ATKMB’s rich midfield core, but it definitely allows the Spanish coach to have multiple back-up plans and a solid bench depth.
While Chennaiyin FC lost manager Owen Coyle – who took them to the ISL final last season – and top-scorer Nerijus Valskis in the summer, the management held on to their well-seasoned midfield of Anirudh Thapa, Memo and Lallianzuala Chhangte. After an impressive cameo last season, Rafael Crivellaro is also joined by Tajikistan captain Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev. With incoming manager Csaba László making just one big addition to Chennai’s midfield in Fatkhuloev, the Marina Machans are seemingly sorted in that department with a good blend of youth and experience. László’s preferred 4-2-3-1 tactics will also allow him to use Crivellaro, Fatkhuloev, Memo, and Thapa in the midfield while Chhangte plies his trade on the wings. With Memo being the single midfield anchor, the remaining three will be the perfect conduit for Chennaiyin’s offence and defence.
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