World Cup 2018 : Poka Russia, Alttalaa Qatar

World Cup 2018 : One of the best World Cup tournament played in the recent past.

It all started with Iceland holding Argentina. Germany had to exit at the group stage. Portugal and Spain the next casualties. Iran and Morroco got everyone’s attention. Host nation Russia also stretched their opponents and reached the Quarter finals.

Finally it came down to four teams Belgium, England, Croatia and France.

England with their young squad finished fourth. Well played England.

Belgium secured the 3rd spot. The Red Devils played excellent football and they were my favorites.Great come back against Japan. Thrilling encounter with Brazil. But one error and they lost the semi final against France. They signed off in style winning their final encounter against England.

Continue reading World Cup 2018 : Poka Russia, Alttalaa Qatar

Croatia: Independence War to World Cup Final: The Winning Spirit keeps them going

Croatia who were considered the underdogs are one Win away from scripting history in the Football World Cup.  They defeated Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland in the group stage. This was followed by three knock out matches all of which went in to extra time which adds up to 90 minutes of extra time. So it is like they have played one match extra. Players should have been hit with fatigue but none of the players have shown even a glimpse of that.

Croatia will play their final World Cup 2018 match on the 15th of July, 2018. A Win against France will make sure that Croatia will be part of the elite list of World Cup Winners.  Till now only 8 countries have managed to win the World Cup.

Continue reading Croatia: Independence War to World Cup Final: The Winning Spirit keeps them going

Belgium : The Red Devils with One Dream

#WorldCup2018 #Russia2018

The Red Devils secured the 3rd place.

The golden generation of Belgium lost just one match, that too 0-1 against France, in their entire 2018 World Cup campaign.

This is Belgium’s best performance in a World Cup. The previous best was 4th place in 1986.

They have won 25 of their last 26 matches.

They have 10 different goal scorers in this World Cup which is equivalent to the current World Cup record.

21 out of the 23 players in their squad played in at least one of the World Cup matches. The 2 players who missed out were the reserve goal keepers.

The dressing room photo says it all. Their passion and dedication to win this tournament was their dream.

Continue reading Belgium : The Red Devils with One Dream

World Cup 2018 : From Messi Vs Ronaldo to Messi & Ronaldo

World Cup 2018 has been an interesting one from the start.

The FIFA No.1 ranked Germany and the no. 8 ranked Poland were eliminated in the group stage.

Pre quarters has a line up of 16 teams who qualified from the Group stages. Portugal and Argentina could have been on the other side of the fixture playing Russia and Denmark respectively. But both Portugal & Argentina finished second in their group and were lined up against Uruguay & France.

The whole world were eagerly waiting to see if they could witness a potential Messi Vs Ronaldo World Cup Quarter Finals : a special ‘El Classico’. Argentina had to win against France and Portugal had to overcome Uruguay for this special event to occur.

France , with the help of a scintillating performance from Mbappe, defeated Argentina 4-3. A match which saw some excellent goals. Argentina in one point we’re leading 2-1. But France scored 3 goals in quick succession to take the scoreline to 4-2. Argentina made a late comeback with an injury time goal to make it 4-3.

Uruguay Vs Portugal started with Cavani scoring from a header in the 7th minute of the match. Portugal equalled the score at the start of the second half. Pepe scored in the 55th minute from a well taken corner. Cavani once again came to the rescue of Uruguay. A great strike from just outside the box helped Uruguay move ahead 2-1. Portugal kept trying till the last whistle. But the scoreline remained intact.

This World Cup has been a level playing field for all the teams and also for all the players. Football, The Beautiful Game, keeps winning at the end of the day.

So it all happened on the same day : From the expectations of Messi Vs Ronaldo playing against each other to both Messi & Ronaldo exiting the World Cup on the 1st day of the Knock out stage.

Probably this might be the last World Cup for both Messi and Ronaldo. Their El Classico fights will continue but the World Cup clash is going to be an elusive one for these two players who probably will have the biggest fan following.

The questions / debates like ‘did they play really well?’, ‘team mates played to their potential?’, etc. will take place over the next couple of days. But it is curtains for the sensational CR7 & magical LM10. But the respect for the players and game will continue.

May be the words told by the Nigerian captain Mikel (who got knocked out by Argentina) stands true for these legends as well : “We gave it all, this was not meant to be”

Football will have to wait for another 4 years to see if new stars rising to help Portugal win their 1st World Cup and Argentina win their 3rd one.

World Cup 2018 : France unleashed a 19 year old & he was too hot to handle for Argentina

#WorldCup2018 #Russia2018

#France Vs #Argentina

Cracker of a match..!!!

When Argentina was looking forward to their #10 Messi to take them through to the Quarter final …

When France was expecting a special from Griezmann, Pogba…

A 19 year old kid was standing in one corner wearing the #10 jersey of Les Blues. Lot of talks were going around about his footballing skills and whether he will be able to perform at this biggest World stage.

This one was a high pressure game, a big Match and the whole world was watching. Even the most experienced players would have felt the pressure to perform tonight.

But this 19 year old : Kylian Mbappe Lottin (the costliest teenager signed by any club – currently playing for Paris Saint Germain on loan from Monaco FC) showed the World that age or experience does not matter when it comes to showcasing your skills. He played with ease and with great maturity. Won the penalty for the team and then scored two goals one with his left foot and another with his right foot. Crucial performance when it mattered the most. Mbappe equalled the record set by the legend of football Pele : teenager to score two goals in a World Cup match. Pele did this in 1958 World Cup Finals Vs Sweden.(In addition to this Mbappe in the group stage had scored against Peru and became the youngest French goalscorer in World Cup. )

Mbappe definitely will feature on all the newspaper headlines tomorrow. What a way to announce your arrival on the big World arena…!!!

He is a big admirer of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Another one who stood out today for the Les Blues was N’golo Kante. The no.13 is like a toy machine who keeps running non stop for 90 minutes. He did the job almost to perfection. He got knocked down couple of times. But just got up without any sign of protests and kept going.

Yes there were other players who made their significant contributions to smoke sure that the France team moves one step closer to the World Cup trophy.

Argentina tried to make a late come back but it was a tall task for them. Messi had to come out with something special but though Argentina and Messi played well it was too much for them to make a comeback.

France proceed to the quarter final defeating Argentina 4-3.

World Cup 2018 : Ronaldo Vs Messi on the cards ?

World Cup 2018 has been a great level playing ground for all teams. The rankings have not mattered when it comes to the performance of the teams.

This tournament has already seen the No.1 ranked team, Germany, getting eliminated. Poland was another top 10 ranked team which had to exit path much earlier than expected.

The pre quarter clash of the 16 teams : Knock out stage begins today with four teams getting in to action.

France Vs Argentina

Uruguay Vs Portugal

It couldn’t have got better than this. Two superb matches and hope it is going to be a nail biting one.

Argentina Vs France

Messi Vs Umtiti
Griezmann Vs Otamendi

This is one of the most awaited matches of the tournament. It will definitely have lot of action in addition to the ones mentioned above.

Argentina coach needs to get his starting xi right. Will he be using Aguero or Higuain? Aguero can be the dangerous one and he can create space for Messi. Can Banega continue to dominate the mid field ? Argentinian defense have not been in the best of form. I feel they will start with a back 4 against France with Otamendi and Rojo holding the fort.

France have not lost any of their group stage matches. But they have not been able to dominate as well. They are still trying to find that finesse which has been lacking. They have one of the best forwards in the form of Griezmann, Mbappe and Giroud. But none of them have showcased their attacking ability in this World Cup. Pogba will be waiting to etch his mark on this big stage. The main man for tonight’s game against Argentina will be N’golo Kante. He can create nightmare for Messi and gang. Umtiti and Varane will be all pumped to defend their goal against this Argentinian attack.

Portugal Vs Uruguay :

Ronaldo Vs Godin
Suarez, Cavani Vs Pepe

Ronaldo will be looking to infuse confidence in to this Portugal line up.
Every match from now on will need something special from CR7. But he will hope that some support comes in from the likes of Quaresmo, Carvalho, Moutinho or Silva.

Uruguay has two lethal strikers in Suarez and Cavani. Suarez is a smart finisher , Cavani can be dangerous with his physical presence & powerful strikes. But both of them will need good support from the midfield.
Godin and Giminez have to be focused. They will have a tough task in hand to keep CR7 quiet.

Two superb matches on the cards.

Will they be as interesting as expected or will it be a one way traffic ? Are we going to witness the magic of Ronaldo and Messi ? The star names of France, Uruguay, Argentina and Portugal will shine tonight ? This night will witness a new star emerging from the shadows of super stars ? Will the matches go to extra time and penalty shootout?

World Cup 2018 will get a chance to witness a potential Ronaldo Vs Messi quarterfinal ? If that happens then the whole footballing world will be glued to their TV sets on the 6th of July.

But I feel that at least one of these teams will fail to move ahead in this tournament. Let the best team Win…!!! At the end of the day whoever wins or loses , one thing is sure : “Football will be the Winner”

World Cup : Disgrace of Gijon : Reason behind the final group games starting at the same time

The current Word Cup has seen lot of interesting scorelines after the end of the two game of group stage. Still many teams need a Win or a draw to qualify. Some teams have qualified but which team will top the table will be determined by the outcome of the 3rd game of the group stage which will be the final game before the qualified teams move ahead to the knock out stages.

The current format of final group games in international tournaments starting at the same time was not prevalent from the starting days of international tournaments. The event which led to the thought of conducting the final games simultaneously happened during the group stages of 1982 World Cup which was held in Spain. Total of 24 teams were divided in to 6 groups of 4 teams each.

West Germany, Austria, Algeria and Chile were part of Group 2. Group 2 started with one of the greatest upsets in the World Cup history. Algeria playing their first ever World Cup match defeated West Germany 2-1. Algeria then played Austria. They lost that match 0-2. Algeria’s final match of the group was against Chile and they managed to win that 3-2. The scoring system during that time was 2 points for a Win and 1 point for a draw.

So Algeria had 4 points from 3 games. West Germany after playing 2 games were at 2 points while Austria had won both of their initial 2 games and were at 4 points.

Algeria had played their final match one day before West Germany’s final encounter. West Germany had to win the match to qualify to the next round. Both Austria and West Germany knew what was required for both of them to qualify.

Disgrace

Germany won by 1 or 2 goals margin then both West Germany and Austria would qualify. But if Germany scored more than 3 goals then Austria will be eliminated and Algeria would qualify.

The match started with West Germany attacking the Austrian defense and they managed to score within the first quarter of the game. But what happened after that was what triggered FIFA to change the rules / timing of the final group stage matches. West Germany and Austria played the rest of the match without much of an intent and never really tried to score goals on either side of the ground. The final points table looked like this :

Disgrace 1

Spectators were upset seeing the way in which the match was played. As per Wiki, One of the Commentator refused to comment about the match & another one requested the viewers to switch off their television sets. A newspaper had published the result of this match under their crime section.

There were lot of discussions about this ‘unfair’ game which was played at Gijon but FIFA was not able to prove anything wrong as no rules of the Game were broken.

Algeria TeamAlgeria

As per The Guardian:-

Did the Algerian players take offence? Not at all, Merzekane says. “We weren’t angry, we were cool,” he says. “To see two big powers debasing themselves in order to eliminate us was a tribute to Algeria. They progressed with dishonour, we went out with our heads held high.”

From all over the world came calls for Fifa to punish the Europeans or stage a replay, but in the end all the world’s governing body did was rule that henceforth the last pair of games in every group must be played simultaneously. “Our performances forced Fifa to make that change, and that was even better than a victory,” Belloumi says. “It meant that Algeria left an indelible mark on football history.”

So this match which was played on the 25th of June, 1982 between West Germany and Austria at the El Moninon Stadium in Gijon, Spain is termed as the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’ or the ‘Shame of Gijon’.

FIFA decided to change the rules and the final group stage matches of international tournaments from then onward are played at the same time to nullify the strategic calculations and rule out the chances of ‘amicably played matches’.

 

World Cup : The question that almost won the World Cup Trophy

Football Football Football : That is what is getting discussed everywhere currently. Everyone has his / her views about the way each country is playing in the ongoing World Cup.

In between all these back to back matches, statistics, discussions, predictions and showing the support for my favourite teams’ : I was stuck with a question.

The question, which I felt was similar in magnitude to which Morocco would have felt when they conceded an own goal against Iran in the dying minutes of their first match, similar to the way Colombia felt when they conceded their first goal against Japan, similar to the way Argentina felt when they lost their match against Croatia, thrown at me was by none other than by my mother.

Very simple question but it hit me like a powerful football shot struck right on my face. It took couple of seconds for me to recover and stand up to answer the question.

So while I was rooting for Hazard, De Brunye and Lukaku & celebrating Belgium’s second goal against Panama, my mother asked me ‘are you going to watch all the World Cup matches ‘ ?

I said ‘Yes, Of Course . It happens once in 4 years and cannot afford to miss it’.

The follow up question was the one which knocked me out. She casually mentioned : ‘you are a crazy football fan, following lot of things happening around football, I want to ask you one question about football’. I was all pumped up to show off my footballing knowledge and told her to ‘shoot’ the question.

She asked me ‘Football originated from which country ? ‘ . The whole enthusiasm to answer the question fizzled off in one single moment. I suddenly started picking my grey hair and tried to recollect the answer for the most simplest question thrown to a football fan. My mind started juggling country names ‘Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Spain’ ? . But I was not sure which one was the right answer. My mother was waiting for the answer while holding the plate of food for me (you guessed it right – how can you leave your couch while watching the match ) . She waited for a minute and silently walked off after winning her World Cup trophy moment.

This question made me look through the internet to find the right answer. I was also expecting google to come out with one of the names I had juggled in my mind. I was pleasantly surprised when I figured out the country from which this beautiful game had originated. The game has it roots from a 200 BC game known as ‘Cuju’ which was played by the ‘Han Dynasty’ of China.

Oh Yes – China is the country from where football had its humble origins. Cuju is recognized by FIFA as the earliest form of Football.

As per Wikipedia :-

The first mention of cuju in a historical text is in the Warring States era Zhan Guo Ce, in the section describing the state of Qi. It is also described in Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian (under Su Qin’s biography), written during the Han Dynasty.A competitive form of cuju was used as fitness training for military cavaliers, while other forms were played for entertainment in wealthy cities like Linzi.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), the popularity of cuju spread from the army to the royal courts and upper classes.It is said that the Han emperor Wu Di enjoyed the sport

It took centuries to get to the current format, rules, etc.

O jogo bonito : The beautiful game has come a long way from Han dynasty to the current format.

And next time when your mother is planning to ask a question about any sport then Be Prepared 🙂

“Dedicated to all mothers’ who make sure that none of their kids miss the football action “