Mumbai, Mar 14 : Spain has had a massive influence over the Hero Indian Super League with the first title being won by a Spanish coach – Antonio Habas – and aided by a Spanish club, Atletico de Madrid.
The former La Liga champions had an understanding with Atletico de Kolkata in the first season and the know-how helped the Kolkata side to win top honours twice in the first three years.
In the first season, though, there were plenty of French players. Then the Brazilians took over and finally, as Bengaluru FC and FC Goa prepare to take on the might of each other in the ISL Finale in Mumbai on Sunday, the Spaniards have made their mark.
The Spanish influence on the league has been growing with each passing season with Bengaluru and Goa now the biggest exponents of the trend.
There will be two Spanish managers with Barcelona connections on opposite ends of the dugout with both Sergio Lobera (Goa) and Carles Cuadrat (Bengaluru) having undertaken coaching stints at the Catalan club.
The support staffs of the two respective coaches have plenty of representation from Spain as well. At Goa, Lobera has two compatriots in the form of former FC Pune City striker Jesus Tato and Manuel Sayabera working alongside him, while Cuadrat’s coaching staff is also Spanish with Gerard Zaragoza, Javier Pinillos and Mikel Guillen assisting him.
There will be no shortage of Spaniards on the pitch either in the final with the likes of Ferran Corominas, Edu Bedia, Carlos Pena, Dimas Delgado, Luisma, Alex Barrera, Albert Serran, Xisco Hernandez and Juanan all set to step on the spotlight.
When it comes to overseas recruits in both the coaching department and playing personnel, both Bengaluru and Goa have opted to go the Spanish route. Bengaluru have in their ranks as many as six Spanish players while Goa have half as many. When the season started, Goa had another Spanish winger – Miguel Palanca – who opted to leave for home after struggling to break into the first squad.
The Spanish heavy approach is the continuation of the direction both clubs have taken since last season when Lobera was in his first year with Goa while Albert Roca was in charge of Bengaluru.
Not just Bengaluru and Goa, other clubs too have followed a similar Spanish pattern. Jamshedpur FC have a Spaniard at the helm of affairs, while it should surprise nobody that Cesar Ferrando has several Spanish players by his side.
Delhi Dynamos too have opted to go the Spaniard way with Josep Gombau leading the pack. Although they didn’t have the best of results, their style of play has certainly caught the attention of neutrals.
Whoever wins the ISL trophy on Sunday, it will be thanks to massive Spanish influence, whether it is on or off the field. (UNI)