In their second ISL season, Hyderabad FC signed five non-ISL experienced foreign players whose expertise and performance put the Nizams as a playoffs contender, but this season the Nizams are taking a different route with their foreign signings. They have signed Juanan Gonzalez, Bartholomew Ogbeche and Edu Garcia; all these three players have more than two years of ISL experience.
Style of play of Manolo Roca
Manolo Marquez Roca as a Spanish coach likes to play Spanish style possession-based football where the ball comes right from the back, and all his players, including the striker, defend deep when the opponent gains possession. During the attack, the wing-backs push forward from the sides to relieve some pressure at the centre for the attacking midfielder and the striker.
The Nizams put a lot of effort into both the offensive and defensive phases of their gameplay. This puts them in need of a fox in the box striker, an attacking midfielder who can quickly get hold of the game at the centre. They will also be needing an experienced defender who can win aerial duels and stop opponents from scoring goals using his strength and tackles.
So, let’s look deep into each of the foreign signing’s times at ISL and how they will be incorporated into Manolo Marquez’s style of play.
Bartholomew Ogbeche needs no introduction for ISL fans. He has been in the league since 2018, starting his ISL debut with NorthEast United FC, then moving on to Kerala Blasters FC, Mumbai City FC and finally joining HFC in his fourth ISL season.
Ogbeche is a type of player who penetrates the opponent’s defence, makes himself available by losing the marking by the opponent defenders and is also an accurate goal scorer. Ogbeche has 35 goals and 6 assists to his name in the 57 ISL games he has played with three different clubs. HFC had Aridane Santana as their main striker last season, who was with Odisha FC in his debut ISL season.
Aridane Santana had an impressive debut season with Odisha FC. He was fast, was winning aerial duels too, which made the Nizams sign him. Even though Aridane was the top goalscorer for Hyderabad by scoring 10 goals, there were a few incidents where the Spaniard has missed crucial chances.
Aridane Santana has scored 10 goals and has given 2 assists in 1597 minutes by donning the HFC jersey last season. In contrast, Bartholomew Ogbeche has 8 goals and 3 assists in 957 minutes. Ogbeche also has an 18% goal conversion rate compared to Aridane’s 20% conversion rate, but given that Ogbeche has played 640 minutes lesser than Aridane, it is pretty impressive. Ogbeche crosses Aridane Santana in passing accuracy as he has 63.07% passing accuracy compared to Aridane Santana’s 54.18% passing accuracy. These stats show us why HFC has signed Bartholomew Ogbeche. He was also not injured for any ISL game last season, whereas Aridane Santana got injured once.
Hyderabad FC signed Lluis Sastre and Joel Chianese last season. Lluis Sastre, who is a La Masia academy player, was injured for eight games last season, but in the games which he played, he showed the fans that he is a tactical midfielder who can make decisive passes that can lead to very good attacking play. He was also a freekick specialist; Sastre’s freekick led to two goals for the Nizams in their second leg against Kerala Blasters.
The Nizams signed Roland Alberg in the winter transfer window last season. He played a few games as a defensive midfielder, the climate in India and the pacy gameplay set him back, which led him to not being able to perform up to the expectations of the fans, but his match equalising assist to Fran Sandaza and his heavy shot goal against ATK Mohun Bagan indeed improved his image among the fans.
Joel Chianese, who is a right-winger, can also play as a second attacker and a CAM. He scored three goals and has given an assist in the 12 games he played for the Nizams. Joel’s weak point is scoring a one on one goal against a goalkeeper. He missed a few crucial one-on-one goals, which costed the team winning situations. Even though Joel misses such crucial goals, he makes up by adding tactical stability to the team, and his key passes in the final third.
The Nizams have signed former ATK Mohun Bagan player Edu Garcia. Garcia isn’t a replacement for any player from the last season because both Lluis Sastre and Roland Alberg mostly played as defensive midfielders. Edu Garcia is a freekick and corner specialist who can make unexpected runs into the final third and is a pinpoint crosser. A player like Garcia will be beneficial for HFC.
Hyderabad has many alternatives in the midfield and attack; they can go with a 4-4-2 formation with Ogbeche and Siverio up in the front of Chianese and a striker. If it is a 4-2-3-1 formation, they still have two options for the striker and CAM positions. It will be interesting to witness how Manolo Marquez will be using Edu Garcia and Joel Chianese.
Hyderabad FC conceded more goals than any other club in their debut season, but last season they conceded only 19 goals where Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan conceded 18 and 15 goals respectively. Hyderabad’s defenders Odei Onaindia and Chinglensana Singh played a vital role in the defence.
Odei Onaindia, who hails from the Basque region of Spain, had experience with many Spanish clubs like Mirandes, Bilbao Athletic and other clubs from Segunda Division and Segunda Division B. Odei stunned everyone last season with his stellar clearances without causing any fouls. The Spanish defender alone saved HFC multiple times while they were on the verge of conceding goals.
Odei Onaindia’s contract ended with Hyderabad. They have signed Juanan Gonzalez, the defender who has five years of ISL experience. Juanan is a six-foot four-inch-tall defender who can win a lot of aerial duels. Last season he was injured during the second leg game against HFC, and he missed out on the remaining six ISL games with Bengaluru FC.
Even though the defender missed out six games, his stats alone have impressed the Nizams as an excellent replacement for Odei Onaindia. Juanan has 46 clearances, 25 blocks, 14 interceptions with 16 tackles and 81.1% passing accuracy in the 14 games he has played. On the other hand, Odei Onaindia’s stats are pretty astonishing. The Spaniard has 80 clearances, 36 blocks, 31 interceptions with 36 tackles and 82.46% passing accuracy in 20 games.
Given that Hyderabad likes to play from the back, having control of the ball for most of the game. Both Juanan and Odei are a perfect fit to guide Hyderabad from the back, but Juanan was injured for a long time last season and given the ISL schedule is going to be a tight one again, Juanan might get injured again.
In conclusion, Juanan is a defender with strength who can win aerial duels, who is very good at marking the opponents and clearing the ball. The Spaniard will be playing an essential role in Hyderabad FC’s defence this season.
The Nizams have put together a great squad this season consisting of ISL experienced foreign contingent in a time when it is difficult to sign foreign players due to the bubble restrictions and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in India. It is a brilliant move by HFC’s management. Hyderabad’s young players will surely learn something from their foreign contingent and will have a great experience this season.
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