Come the fifth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), Bengaluru FC will be hoping for a much bigger contribution from midfielder Dimas Delgado in their quest to go one better than their runner-up finish last season.
Part of the ever-increasing Spanish contingent in the squad, Delgado was a key figure in Bengaluru’s maiden campaign in the ISL.
In the final against Chennaiyin FC, Delgado had to be taken off towards the dying minutes of the first-half after sustaining a knee injury. While he was still receiving treatment on the sidelines, John Gregory’s men pinched a second goal and a lead in the game. In the second half, Delgado could only watch from the bench as Bengaluru’s dreams of capturing the title on their maiden attempt came crashing down on home soil.
The Spaniard had an influential role in proceedings until the injury and came mighty close to giving the Blues the lead around the half-hour mark, only to be denied by a brilliant clearing header on the goal-line by Inigo Calderon.
That half had summed up Delgado’s season with the Bengaluru-based club down to a tee. At his best, the midfielder could be the orchestrator of the side’s attacking play but injuries at crucial junctures had hampered his playing time.
The 35-year-old missed a few of the side’s early fixtures due to injuries before finally getting a continuous run of games. Ultimately, he ended the ISL campaign with three assists and a goal but the injury he suffered in the final kept him out of Bengaluru’s victorious campaign in the inaugural Super Cup.
The 2018-19 season has started much on the same note for the Spaniard after a muscle injury kept him out of both legs in Bengaluru’s AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup inter-zonal semi-final against Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr.
Despite his knack of picking up injuries, Delgado was rewarded with a one-year contract extension with the club and it is not hard to see why. When on song, every well-worked attacking play by the Blues passes through the Spaniard at the heart of the midfield.
Under Albert Roca, Delgado was the crucial link between the defence and attack with his ability to spray the ball forward with precision and ping pin-point long balls to the attackers’ feet.
Not afraid to play the Hollywood pass, Delgado still managed to maintain a passing accuracy of nearly 80 per cent in the ISL. Having played under Pep Guardiola in the Barcelona B team, the influence is clear to see in Delgado’s game.
He is not one to shirk away from tackles either, making as many as 45 of them last season along with 21 interceptions.
What the veteran brings in bucket loads is plenty of technical ability and finesse. He has the ability to dictate the game from the base of the midfield but also has a habit of going missing in patches. What Carles Cuadrat will want from the midfielder in the upcoming season is for him to take the game by the scruff of the neck to a much larger degree than he did last season.
Delgado clearly has the ability to do that but his fitness will remain a big concern once again. If he can have an injury-free campaign in the ISL, the Spaniard’s best could yet be unleashed in India.
Although Bengaluru have bought Xisco Fernandes to bolster the midfield, Delgado is bound to once again remain the key man at the centre of the park. It will be another long ISL season this time around and the risk of further injuries to the midfield general will run high. But, should he overcome his injury woes, Delgado and Bengaluru can banish the painful memories of last year’s final for good.