A tactical and philosophical revival of sorts

Odisha FC had a great show in the Indian Super League 2020-21. The club managed to win just two games out of twenty games, which was the worst wins to games ratio across any season of the ISL for any club. The Juggernauts relied a way too much on the likes of Diego Mauricio and Cole Alexander, which affected the impact of their young Indian players. The GMS-led side has now went through a complete revival right from the Indian and foreign recruits to the coaching management.

 

The arrival of Kiko Ramirez will set the tone for the club’s ISL campaign. Ramirez has never been a successful manager so far in his career. He has come close to promotion with Hospitalet and Castellon in the lower divisions of Spanish football, but has never managed to get that crucial season success. Hence, the jury is out in the open for Ramirez, someone who has had no experience so far in Indian and Asian football.

 

Ramirez brings out a completely different type of football to the club, as opposed to Stuart Baxter. Baxter liked to play with youngsters in the middle and use the wings to effect, which limited Odisha FC’s ability to score goals through the middle. However, the Spaniard prefers a typical Spanish brand of football, where teams play out from the break and then stretch out the opposition.

 

The former Gimnastic manager has been seen implementing a robust 4-2-3-1 system where the two double pivots play a key role to hold up play in the middle. Looking at Odisha’s foreign recruits, former ATKFC defensive midfielder Victor Mongil is expected to play a key role in the middle. The Juggernauts have numerous creative yet defensive options in the midfield who is likely to pair up with Mongil. Shubham Sarangi and Samuel Lalmuanpuia are two terrific youngsters, who like to play with the ball.

 

Playing from the back will require immense creativity in the central areas to find gaps. Odisha FC have brought in the likes of Liridon Krasniqi on loan from Johor Darul Ta’’zim, who will play a key role in eking out scoring opportunities for the strikers. There is no dearth of supporting Indian talent at Odisha FC. Paul Ramfangzuava, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Isak Vanlaruatfela and Nanda Kumar are few of the young Indian names who are capable enough to create chances to score upfront.

 

Diego Mauricio was one of the finest foreign recruits in the previous ISL season. He has netted 12 goals for Odisha FC in just 20 games in the previous season. His scoring abilities has allowed him to move to Qatari second division side Al-Shahania. Replacing Mauricio will be a very difficult task. On days when the entire team failed to show up on the pitch, it was Mauricio, more often than not, who showed his individual brilliance to get the important goals. Jonathan de Jesus is arguably Odisha FC’s most famed signing in the new season. Fans can check out online bookmakers and sign up for the best offers and predictions from ISL, especially since all the eleven teams are more or less at par with each other in the upcoming edition.

The challenge is ripe enough for Ramirez to go with an experimental attitude, but the Spanish manager needs to display intent and tactical awareness to at least stay in the groove for a possible top four slot in the ISL .