Tuesday, May 17, 2022

ISL 2021-22: How will Federico Gallego’s injury affect NorthEast United’s playoffs plans?

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ISL 2021-22: How will Federico Gallego’s injury affect NorthEast United’s playoffs plans? – NorthEast United suffered a major blow as they lost Uruguayan midfielder Federico Gallego for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. A fan favourite for the Highlanders, Gallego has been the face of the club for some time now. Despite having persistent injury problems but still has managed to fight his way through all of them to power NorthEast United to the Indian Super League playoffs last season. Follow all ISL 2021-22 Live Updates only on InsideSport.IN

NorthEast United finished third last season, their best ever finish in the ISL. They started the campaign with Spanish head coach Gerard Nus. But after a few average results, the management decided to part ways with the Spaniard. They appointed Khalid Jamil as his interim for the rest of the season. The Indian tactician, however, managed to turn the tables as he guided the Highlanders to the playoffs.

Khalid’s dedication, passion and ability to bring the players together impressed the management. Therefore they decided to create history by making him the first Indian head coach on a permanent basis. However in the first three matches this season, the Highlanders have only managed a single draw and two defeats. Now with Gallego out, there are plenty of problems for Khalid Jamil to resolve.

Disrupting the team balance

While there are other players who can help in chance creation and creativity overall, Gallego is the creative nucleus of this NorthEast United side. The Uruguayan was pivotal in the club’s journey to the playoffs twice in the last three seasons. Hence it is definitely a big blow for the Guwahati-based-outfit. Khalid Jamil has built his team around the Uruguayan midfielder but his absence will be a major blow for him and his team. Gallego’s absence will force him to play Hernan Santana in the middle alongside Khassa Camara to add that creativity.

ISL 2021-22: How will Federico Gallego's injury affect NorthEast United's playoffs plans?
ISL 2021-22: How will Federico Gallego’s injury affect NorthEast United’s playoffs plans?

But by doing so he will have to opt for Patrick Flottmann in defence to bring some stability. But the Australian has not looked convincing and that can be a major concern for the Highlanders. With Santana at the back, there is always assurance but Gallego’s injury does not allow that freedom to Khalid Jamil. Hence it surely disrupts the balance of the team and with their current defensive woes their chances of making it to the last four look bleak.

Absence of a leader

Gallego has seen NorthEast United at their worst and also at their best. He has always been that breathe of fresh air when the chips were down for the Highlanders. Despite all his injury concerns, the Uruguayan also rose like a phoenix to come up with sensational performances. Apart from his heroics on the pitch, Gallego has always been a leader of men. The 31-year-old would often share his experiences with youngsters and help them in their development.

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There is a reason why most coaches who came to NorthEast United have preferred the Uruguayan to take up the armband. He has that aura of bringing players together and helping out with team cohesion. So in his absence, the team will miss him on the pitch but more so in the dressing room.

Lack of creativity in the midfield

Federico Gallego is easily one of the best players in the Indian Super League. The way he progresses the ball, dribbles past defenders and finds teammates in the final third makes him a treat to watch for Indian football fans. He has been pivotal for NorthEast United for all these years and more so in the last season. Despite missing a major chunk of matches due to injury, Gallego created the highest number of chances last season (53) and played a major role in his club’s best ever finish in the Indian Super League.

So in his absence, Khalid Jamil’s men will miss on his creativity majorly. He brings that languid elegance and can break open defences with a simple flick. Gallego is rightfully called the magician because of his abilities with the ball. The Uruguayan will be dearly missed by the Highlanders as they look to qualify for the playoffs, their third in four seasons.

ISL 2021-22: How will Federico Gallego’s injury affect NorthEast United’s playoffs plans?

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