Connect with us

Indian Football

Delhi Dynamos: Dare To Dream

With Round 12 of the Indian Super League under way, teams will be desperate to make the most of these last few fixtures to ensure they make it to the knock-out stages of the tournament. Aakriti Mehrotra gives her account of the Delhi Dynamos in their reach for a place in the top four.

Delhi Dynamos currently stand the chance to reach the semi final of the Indian Super League if they win their remaining two games. Who would have thought that the side which drew most of its matches and lost others could make it to the knock out berths? Impressive tactical changes from the Delhi coach coupled by the Dynamos players producing solid performances off late have now made it mathematically possible for the club from the capital city to make it to the knock out stages. Granted, the tight nature of the points table did play a huge factor. Their next match is against Atletico de Kolkata, a team which has done extremely well in the competition so far. Atletico would provide a stern test for Delhi and will refuse to back down as they would be hoping to pocket all three points to sustain their challenge for the top spot against Chennaiyin FC.

Delhi would have hoped that their season would have kick-started a little earlier in the competition, but van Veldhoven would be pleased that the capital city club has hit the  right gear at this crucial time. Delhi go into their final home game of the season at the back of two consecutive wins. This of course, is an advantage in itself but what gives the side another push is that the two wins were opposite in nature. Against NorthEast, Delhi really dug their feet into the ground to grind out a result. Eventually they were left with 10 men on the pitch, but the Dynamos were aware how badly they needed that win, and early goals from dos Santos and Hans Mulder ensured that. Against Mumbai City FC, Delhi dominated proceedings from very early on. They looked determined, pressed high up, wanted to attack the ball and most importantly, seemed positive. The hard-fought win over their north-eastern rivals clearly did a lot for the confidence of the players.

It seems like coach van Veldhoven has also found the ideal way to set his team up, which is basically the 4-3-3, or alternations of it. The Delhi coach also seems to have found most of his preferred starting 11 (all four changes in the Mumbai game were enforced, with Souvik Ghosh, Pavel Elias and Bruno Arias missing through injury and Souvik Chakraborty suffering suspension courtesy a red card in the previous game). What is important is that the Dutchman seems to have figured out the right tactics for his team.

The front three of Mads Junker, Francis Fernandes and the very impressive Gustavo dos Santos looks most threatening for the side. Shylo contributes in the attack as well, regularly threatening on the flanks.

Delhi have lacked goals and wins and a lot of blame has gone to the strikers. The coach made the interesting move and set Francis Fernandes as the false nine. Dos Santos and Junker regularly cut from the wide and there was a lot of interchange in positions in the front three. This caused the Mumbai defence a sufficient dilemma. One would think that Junker was the tip of the attack and there were three players behind him, but Francis was actually the one operating more centrally. Junker being a regular number nine, played mostly as a wide forward, and did an effective job regularly cutting in centrally and linking up with his attacking teammates. He could have had more than just the one goal.

Dos Santos’s game and the way he was set out by van Heldhoven was equally impressive. The Brazilian is very creative, and is the joint second top scorer in the competition. He was being used as Delhi’s super sub till now, but his good performances have earned him regular starts of late. However, the Brazilian often tries too much and produces unproductive moments of flair. His nationality and erratic nature, and on the positive side his creativity and flair, can easily remind one of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.

Francis Fernandes was kept out of the side by Steven Dias for a run of games, but the player has done well in the previous two matches. He has essentially been operated as a false nine. He needs to improve some areas of his game such as his finishing and crossing, but the young Indian does a good job in the focal position of Delhi’s attack. The switch in positions between dos Santos and Francis in the previous two games was very effective as one of the two drifted wide and the other attacked through the centre. Delhi would be hoping the two can bring more of this in Delhi’s remaining games.

Van Heldhoven’s midfield trio comprises of a holding midfielder, one midfielder to compliment the holding player and a more attack minded player. The holding midfielder and the one who aids him dictate the play from the centre. Captain Hans Mulder and Bruno Arias are Delhi’s preferred two in this role. In the absence of the Spaniard, Dinis was chosen in the midfield and if Arias is going to be out for longer, we can expect Dinis to continue in this role. Between the two players, there is also an interchange in positions- one player stays back to shield the defence, and the other surges forward to link up with the attack. The two understand that there needs to be someone covering the defence, and one of them always stays back.

The other midfielder, Shylo, attacks, as seen in the case of Delhi’s previous game. The added advantage of using Shylo in that position is that he naturally has the instinct of attacking on the flanks, which gives the winger in the attacking trio more liberty to cut inside.

The defence is the area when van Heldhoven has made most changes and it seems like he hasn’t figured out his preferred back four. Obviously, injuries and suspensions haven’t exactly helped his case. Pavel Elias has been out a lot of times and the left-back, and goal scorer against Atletico de Kolkata, might keep Stijin Houben out of the team if he comes back. Anwar Ali has been a regular part of the team and the defence, and Delhi’s faith in the Indian has paid off with the player being solid at the back most of the times.

The most impressive thing van Veldhoven recently did is leaving del Piero out of his starting team. It is not easy to drop players, especially ones who are of the same pedigree as Del Piero, and who have taken most of the side’s transfer kitty sum. And even if this decision is enforced, as some reports suggest, it has helped Delhi. Del Piero still has a lot left in him and his leadership on the pitch helps the youngster a lot in pressure situations, but his weak legs sometimes make it look like Delhi are playing with a player less. Despite managing to create a lot of chances, for now, it seems like a good decision to keep him out of the starting eleven. If Delhi manage to reach the latter stages, perhaps the Juventus legend can feature more as his leadership would be essential for crunch, nerve wracking ties.

Delhi have played some very unattractive football at times, and there has been a clear paucity of goals in the capital side’s team, despite two of their wins coming with a 4-1 scoreline. On a positive note, Delhi go into the most crucial stage of the competition on the back of a good run of games. Their immediate focus would obviously be the final game at home. Kolkata have been one of the two most impressive sides of the competition but Delhi would be confident that they can get the three points at home. There were about 15000 people supporting the home side against Mumbai, but the atmosphere was buzzing. It genuinely didn’t feel like just 15000 people (which is one fourth of the stadium’s capacity), and the noise made in this particular match was as good as I have seen all tournament in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Obviously, when your side is giving you four great goals and an impressive performance, you just don’t stay silently and glued to your seats.

Against Atletico de Kolkata, a larger crowd is expected with a large Bengali community residing in Delhi. Besides that, this is the last game Delhi would be hosting if they can reach the knockout stages so the large section of football fans won’t miss the opportunity to see their home side and the impressive Kolkata in action. The atmosphere is being predicted to be like it was against NorthEast. It is a must win game for Delhi, but their recent performances have given the reason to dream, and they can.

Written by Aakriti Mehrotra

100 to Watch


Bengaluru FC2 weeks ago

Ashique Kuruniyan: Square peg in a round hole?

Arnab Ray dissects the decision to play Ashique Kuruniyan at Left Back with a review of his performance against FC...

Bengaluru FC3 weeks ago

Bengaluru FC 0-0 NorthEast United FC | Chances go abegging in the rain

Arnab Ray looks back at Bengaluru FC’s first home game of the 2019-20 Indian Super League season as the final...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #6: Luka Jovic, Anthony Martial and Reiss Nelson feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Talent Radar1 year ago

Talent Radar: A-League’s 10 Young Players to Watch in 2018-19

Brian Bertie writes about the 10 young players to watch in this season’s A-League. Australia have made rapid strides forward...

Interviews1 year ago

Interview: Abneet Bharti on Indian footballers abroad

SU Sintrense defender, Abneet Bharti, the only Indian footballer to be plying his trade in Europe, talks to Kaustubh Pandey...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #5: Matthias De Ligt & James Maddison feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Opinions1 year ago

Borja Fernandez: The underappreciated genius of ISL’s infancy

On the eve of the latest edition of the ISL, Arinjay Ghosh pays a tribute to Borja Fernandez, an ISL...

Opinions1 year ago

Tactical Philosophy: Domenico Tedesco

While this website has made its name focusing on the lesser known youth of this beautiful sport, and combined it...

Tactical Analysis1 year ago

Liverpool 3-2 PSG: Liverpool edge deserved victory against dysfunctional PSG

Siyang Xu writes a detailed tactical analysis about the UEFA Champions League match that ended Liverpool 3-2 PSG. Liverpool faced...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #4: Matthias De Ligt & Ousmane Dembele feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Opinions1 year ago

UEFA Champions League: The 5 hipster sides to follow this season

Gear up with your organic ginger ale and mystical moustache oil, as Richard Pike briefs us about 5 off beat...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #3: Maxi Gomez & Marco Asensio feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Opinions1 year ago

Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea: Tactical Approach & Key Players

Miles Olusina writes about Maurizio Sarri and the approach he is likely to take at Chelsea. Despite a successful 2016/17...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #2: Joe Gomez & Bertrand Traore feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #1: Joe Gomez & Kylian Mbappe feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Opinions1 year ago

Julen Lopetegui at Real Madrid: Tactical Approach & Key Players

Aamer Aslam writes about what we can expect from European Champions Real Madrid after the arrival of Julen Lopetegui On...

Opinions1 year ago

Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli: Tactical Approach & Key Players

Charles Onwuakpa writes about Carlo Ancelotti and the approach he is likely to take on at Napoli. After three intense...

Scout Report1 year ago

Scout Report: Gonçalo Paciência | Eintracht’s exquisite forward

Jose Miguel Saraiva writes a detailed scout report about Eintracht Frankfurt’s striker, Gonçalo Paciência. For those who have been attentively observing...

Talent Radar1 year ago

Talent Radar: Liga MX’s 10 Young Players to Watch in 2018-19

Thomas Harrison writes about the 10 players to watch out for in the Liga MX for this coming season. Mexico...

Talent Radar1 year ago

20 Key Young Players to Watch from 20 La Liga Teams

Tom Canton takes a look at they key young players to watch from each of the 20 La Liga teams....

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

More on Outside of the Boot

Previous Next
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this