Messi’s return normalizes expectation

I once read a quote that said “If you win once, people might call it luck, but if you win twice you may prove them wrong.” On the other hand, losing has also got equal and opposite impact. What adverse effect would happen by continuously losing on a big stage? Subsequent losses have proved be traumatizing for a player’s career; we have a recent story.

Setting aside the debate in the context of Ronaldo and Messi—where I have a sincere consent that both of them have enormous talent and conquered indefinite glory—I still believe that Messi as a footballer who would never do something very silly on the pitch. I always enjoyed watching Messi, who I perceived synonymous to the word ‘simplicity’. He did things that look like no-big-deal; what I mean is that he wouldn’t script a moment to make it dramatic. To me, he was plain.

The day after The Copa America finals was about just one thing; “Messi retires”. I tried to contemplate over the shocking news that followed the defeat for Argentines. It all made sense—understanding the intensity of frustration inside the player’s mind—though it made me smirk. I thought it was a genuine feeling that sounded like “I couldn’t let my nation down anymore”. He readily shrugged off the baton of expectations in order to save the disappointment from his fans; for real good. It had a sense of credibility but looked naive as well.

The decision might have shocked every one of us but we all knew that it’s not going to last for long time. We were right; and now we have him back, sooner than expected. This time, the decision—yet seemingly laughable—will do more good than harm. Earlier, he was expected to win every single match—which is reasonable for a player of such high caliber and—having your team perform so well and making it to the finals for three times in three major tournaments over the last 3 years; unbelievable. But now, these expectations surrounding Messi are normalized. We know the potential inside this player but also we understand what to expect of him. He had already proved everyone of his individual brilliance but in the scale of triumphs how much would a national team trophy weigh?

Messi might have taken the upper cut criticism straight in his face but he wanted to give a good fight again. The question is how many rounds will he last? Looking forward.



This week on football

Football have been a part of normalcy in my life. Club leagues, FIFA EA Sports, 5-a-side and what not. Many friendships were made from hearing one word that was uttered even with utmost silence among the crowd; football. I spared nobody that had similar interest. The routine with football always turned me on and kept me high. When I was in my school up to grade 10, I had tough time to figuring out to be a bowler or a batsmen or a fielder or an outstanding spectator. In the phase of figuring out, I found out a rookie footballer in me. To my memory, I remembered watching the world cup 2002 when Ronaldo took Brazil to lift the World Cup against Germany’s Oliver Kahn. May be that was a moment the adrenaline in me had woke up. I don’t remember exactly.

But then, I had tough time in convincing my mom to go play the game, because mom was a true lover. She was very protective of me and I had no regret of that. But with the game, she almost mocked at me every time I said I’m gonna play a game. I had to sneak out, lie, find reason to play somehow but didn’t work that well until I joined in high school and stayed away from home and then found myself an ardent fan of Manchester United and the story goes on.

This week on football:

Barca vs Bayern: Messi was a joy to watch.  I love watching players that make so much impact on the game; confidence, passing and ruthless dribbling. I almost gave up on the game when Messi took a shot that forced Neuer save with no effort. And then the goal, that was awesome. And then the second goal brought the frenzy. Messi was like a shooting star and his finish for the second was effortless finished in a subtle way. And I screamed watching the match. I loved watching the whole 90 minutes of the first leg. The second leg will be much more interesting with both fixtures: Madrid vs Juventus and Bayern vs Barca. Waiting.

Memphis Depay: That’s a great signing looking at his stats and confidence at this age; and an attitude to hurt the opponents. I’m already looking forward for next season. I am impressed with the way LVG is building the team. United are playing a disappointing football at the moment. Despite that, the team building looks promising. LVG had little time to bring so many players in a season. I almost lost my patience during the twilight years of SAF where every player on the planet was linked with a move but then nothing really happened. Going with his antics, Manchester will be Oranje in upcoming years under LVG; yet promising.

Christian Benteke and Aston Villa: The rejuvenated striker has been named the ‘Barclays Player of the month’, with 5 goals in April month playing a good football. He’s been transformed into a threat with pressing football and quick feet. The whole squad had been stimulated by the strong catalystic manager in Tim sherwood. Wotta transformation. The whole team has been charged as if they were fallen in love; desperate to do things. There are so many young bloods lurking around thirsty on the field, for victory. I’m keeping a tab on Villa matches, just because they are so much fun to watch.

Manchester United: We are closing on the end of season with three games remaining. We need 5 points from the last three games. Nail biting as the Scousers are following too close for the champions league spot. The boss very well knows that he cannot afford to lose another match. The next fixture Crystal Palace cannot be considered underdogs. Hence, there are 3 finals left for the season, big games as Mata once said.

5-a-side football on weekend: We play in our neighborhood in an artificially turfed ground. It feels like we are a pack of wolves. All along, so close and so much enthusiasm with the game. Weekend footballers. So, it’s another 2 hours of good game this weekend on Saturday as well. It’s fun.

That’s all for the week with football.

Where did the Brazilians go wrong?

When Dunga, the then Brazilian coach prepared his 23-men squad in 2010, the list contained no Ronaldinho or Ronaldo. It later proved suicidal. Brazil didn’t look so promising from the initial stages in South Africa, much similar to the current world cup and exited in the quarter-finals against the Dutch. Dunga had to pay the price for his early mistake which also saw him being dismissed by the Brazilian football association.

Scolari had a similar situation when he managed Brazil in 2002. A controversial act was to drop the then veteran striker Romario, causing distress among the fans. But what happened after that overshadowed this incident. Brazil went into the tournament in unfancied victories but clinched the World cup by the stellar performance from ‘The-Phenomenon’. They thrashed Germany with 2 goals to nil.

This time Brazil had an upper hand by playing in their own soil. Scolari’s return as a manager increased the anticipation to re-create the history of the glorious 2402302_big-lnd2002 world cup. It’s a young squad with passion and patriotism. They play home. Neymar, the celebrated hero lived up to the expectation and was able to bring life to the hopes of the millions. Silva stood as a warrior and commander of field. Things were going right until that moment. Neymar’s injury blow and Thiago Silva’s suspension left Brazil stranded in the field. The Germans marched as a threat to Brazilian dreams and so it happened. All the 7 goals scored on that night were absolutely ordinary. Germans were all in their mid and early twenties guarded by Bastian and Philipp with Klose up front ! Joachim is a wise manager. Ambitious.

As a manager you influence the players until kick-off. Once the referee blows the whistle, the ship is off the harbor. It needs a capable leader in the pitch to drive things. What Brazil lacked was a leader to set things right.

I’m trying to imagine what would have happened if Kaka and Ronaldinho were included in the squad.

Let me talk about other nations that included their veteran footballers of age above 30 in their squad.

1. Pirol, 34, was a magician for Italy and it was omnipresent in his area of expertise and is a threat at free-kicks. His presence offered smoothness in the Italian game, despite their early exit.

2. Forlan, 35, still was used as a substitution at the strike in Suarez’s absence. Lest we forgot, he drove Uruguay to the top fight in last world cup.

3. Kuyt, 33, had his manager’s trust and the guts to play off-position as a right-back in their win against Costa Rica. He did show the difference.

4. Rafael Marquez, 35, wore the captain’s arm-band for Mexico for four world cups and showed strength and support from the defense.

5. Klose, 36, is the oldest player in my list of veterans. He did wonders breaking the record of most goals scored in the world cup final, 16 !

Klose faded with the pace that is required for the strike force, but his instincts for scoring was still evident in the last night. It would have been perfect moment with his famous acrobatic celebration.

The cameraman focused on the Brazilian idol, the phenomenon sitting in a broadcasting room in the stadium, looking dejected. How spectacular it would be for the legends to play and win for the crowd. This doesn’t prove the fact that old players will win the game, but they will give their best !

The players that were dropped off the squad.

1. Kaka, 32. It was a sad moment when Kaka arrived with his kid for the opening match. He deserved a spot to fill the void in the Brazilian midfield.

2. Ashley cole for England 33. England being my favorites and Baines proving the positives wrong, Ashley cole’s absence was felt.

3. Lampard, 36. He did play an important role in the 2010 world cup. On contrary, Gerrard was barely seen on the pitch. Barry 33, would have done too.

4. Ronaldinho, 34. He’s still got that flare and an obvious game-changer. I’d have had him in the squad. He is divine !

All I say is these players possess the level of experience and greater sense of game at bigger stages.

The point is simple. Keep the old-horses running and let them lead the colts.

Picture courtesy :

Why this is one of the best world cups I have ever watched

When Brazil was announced to be the host, that was enough to kindle the enthusiasm. The tournament is going to happen in front of millions that are passionate about the game.

This is the second world cup, where I was able to follow all the matches. There were many teams that lived beyond expectation and some went past their old glory. I really wished any of the underdog teams would move ahead to the later stages of the tournament, which some teams thoroughly deserved.

The dancing Colombians, the furious Chileans, the stubborn Algerians are top class. Ambitious.

Some of the remarkable moments in the World cup 2014, so far. 

World cup so far
World-cup, Brazil


1.Brazilians go teary-eyed in front of the home crowd in the opening match and score an own-goal as the first goal of the tournament.

2. Spain suffered the biggest defeat by the defending champions against the Dutch. Its 5pain.

3. Witnessing Flying Dutchman, Robin Van Persie’s spectacular header against Spain, live.

4. The stubborn Colombians and their goal celebrations.

5. When Neymar scores, the stadium erupts, crazy and passionate ! His injury blow. Sad.

6. James Rodriguez, class, personified.

7. Messi and Ronaldo, the former still lives the dream.

8. Underdogs: Colombians, Chile, Algerians. In that order.

9. Klose’s record goal-scoring and acrobatic celebration.

10. Goal keepers. Top class saves.

11. Free-kick and the referee reaches for his invisible spray and marks the distance for the wall. Football fans seen using the same technique against their wives. ha ha.

12. And when the The big nations are in semi-finals, the frenzy is heating up !

If anyone hadn’t watched the world cup yet, let me tell you something. The Brazilians and Argentines are  in semi-finals for the first time ever. Isn’t that not enough to make you watch the semi-finals and the final game?

The Brazilians are looking for glory in their home ground, while it’s not that easy. Messi still carries the baton and what could be a better chance to lead the race in your enemies’ soil?

The Dutch and Germans would raise fiercely and take chance to redeem their past. They would want to reach to the final howsoever.

The top tier teams have got closer to the glory but the war has begun.

Brazil vs Germany, Dutch vs Argentina.

Merry Finals !!!

It’s Samba Time

imagesEvery neuron in my brain renders me one result irrespective of my thought process. #WorldCup

After long time, I wanted to capture the impression of thoughts in this blog post.

My thoughts linger and travel along the South American nation where samba flavored football welcomes the world to host the World Cup for the second time, with millions of supporters swarming to witness the legacy of the game.

Much awaited world cup kicks start after four years.

The Brazilians will unleash their world cup hopes with the opening day match against Croatia. Needless to mention, Brazil will go through their group stage.

I’m an all time admirer of  Brazilian football. I saw my first world cup match back in 2002 when Brazilians met Germans in the 2002 final. But, Will Brazil bring the 6th world cup home?

There is no El-Phenomenon like Ronaldo, and tactical magician like Ronaldinho or most capped Brazilian Captain in Cafu, but Passion of playing in front of their home crowd.

I feel, the young Brazilian squad will surpass the expectation with the experienced Coach in Scolari, having already won the Confederations cup with the same team.

The Three Lions are expected to make an upset like last world cup but the heart stays with the young English team. The Germans training in their own stadium arrive in mighty attacking style to clinch a place in finals, whereas the defending champions La Roja (Spain) cannot be written off with their tiki-taka-ian style of play. The Uruguayans emerged as the underdogs finishing third in last world cup, will continue to threaten at Brazil this year.

The Oranje (Dutch) have seamless attacking football up front but will they qualify from their group?

Finally the nations of Ronaldo and Messi will eclipse over other nationalities and might surprise many.

Nevertheless, i’m gonna enjoy the most frenzied month.

It’s Samba time !!!

One matter

January 24, 2014, remarked the significant transfer record for a player by Manchester United.

The English Champions suffered a bad run in the first half of the season, losing the momentum of victories.The end of 26 years of reign, by the great Sir Alex, and the void left by the greatest red, Paul Scholes,  had kept the reds stumble with the start of the 2013/14 season forcing the successor, David Moyes to spend in January. 

Needless to say, media is a warehouse of speculations. Various players being linked with the move, not until the two parties broke the speculation into a happening. The player of the season for two consecutive seasons at the London club is preparing a record move to the Manchester arena, Old Trafford.

A top, top class player, who is sidelined with the advent of the special one, not fitting into his game strategy, who is sorry for not making the best outta the Spanish play maker. So is the question looming over the pundits, whether he will be able to fit in to the philosophy of the current champions. The Spanish origin, is nothing short of creativity. That’s for sure.

Not very long before the headlines around the world read the ‘transfer’ to Manchester United for the club record money. 37 million Quid. It’s a lot of money.What a nice surprise ! Finally, the happy new year is at Old Trafford, at the end of the first month. That’s certainly one of the good things I would expect to happen, along with the rest of the fans.

No doubt the move will bring home the lost enthusiasm and confidence with the addition to the struggling squad. Alongside Wayne, Robin, Adnan, Shinji, some to mention, the Spaniard will be a worthy inclusion. Hope the 25 year old player will stand up to the expectation. The fingers are crossed.

He dons the shirt with no.8 and goes by the name – Juan Mata, the one that matters !