Category: Sports

The Euphoria called Football

The FIFA world cup kicked off on Thursday by Saudi Arabia and Russia in the latter’s capital of Moscow. For an entire month, the world will be gripped in the ecstasy of football. Thousands of fans will be attending the event in 11 cities across Russia with millions more joining in from all across the world through the power of television and the internet. A sport, loved so much, that people spend sleepless nights to watch their favourite teams play in this tremendous tournament.

1930 was the year when this quadrennial event began. The venue for this watershed moment in sporting history was Uruguay. A mere 13 countries participated; because crossing the Atlantic Ocean was a perilous task back then. It took almost 3 weeks to travel from Europe to South America. Even though it was a small tournament, the effect it had was a large one. In succeeding world cups, the number of teams participating to qualify for the tournament kept on increasing and the desire to lift the trophy even more so.

We have come a long way from the 1930s. The 2018 world cup has 32 countries competing for the title of world champions; and over 200 countries who participated in the qualifiers for the world cup. The excitement is not just for winning the cup, but also for hosting it! The hosts for the next two world cups have already been declared with Qatar hosting it in 2022 and United States, Mexico and Canada, jointly hosting the one after that in 2026 (Which is going to be the largest one ever, with more than 40 countries). Such is the craze for the FIFA world cup.

Even a country like India where cricket is considered to be the ‘unofficial’ national sport football too has a great following. Millions across India tune in to watch the various European clubs compete for the title in their respective leagues. India has one of the largest viewers of football in the world. With India hosting the U-17 World Cup, being victorious in the recently hosted continental cup and advent of Indian Super League, football too is rising up to the position which cricket presently holds. It will not be long before football becomes a ‘religion’ like cricket is in India. But what is it that makes this game just so wonderful to look at and play?

Football is the kind of game which keeps you at the edge of your seat. For those 90 minutes nothing else matters, just the football and shooting it into the back of the net. In the blink of an eye the tide can change. From being down 1-0 to leading the game by 2-1, the exhilarating moments and breath-taking movements on the pitch keeping even the non-followers glued to the screen. When you play the game, you feel what the players who are playing for their countries feel. The unparalleled adrenaline rush of getting past the defenders and kicking the ball into the back of the net. It is a feeling which all of us experience, whether it is playing or watching the game. Personally, I never used to watch football; but since the exciting final of the 2014 World Cup, I’ve become a follower of the sport. Making sure that I watch the important fixtures across all leagues if not following it religiously. Any chance I get to play, I make sure that I do. At the end of the match, regardless of whether you won or lost; watching or playing; those 90 minutes are just simply euphoric. If you meet someone who doesn’t speak your language, football will be your connection. That’s the reason why football is so popular across the globe. It brings the people closer, the countries closer and inadvertently, the world closer to each other.

Priyamvad Rai


174th Manchester Derby – Match Overview

I gave a match overview of the 172nd Manchester Derby, of the Barclays Premiere League which took place earlier this season, check it out to see the difference between the two fixtures!

Manchester City walked into this important fixture with a loss on their minds; i.e. they had lost to Arsenal 2-1. Manchester United came into the fixture with a series of wins, including a win over Chelsea (2-0), this was an important factor in the derby.

The match was kicked off by Manchester United, it began with great energy from both teams, with possession being almost the same for both. Both teams created chances for scoring while displaying great co-ordination and of course; great football. There were some really close chances like in the 43rd minute free kick which got Herrera just wide of the post.
Needless to say, the defense of both teams was solid, but there were of course times when the attackers did break through. We should complement the strikers rather than condemn the defenders here, as they (attackers) displayed great skill in getting past the defenders. First half also saw spectacular saves by both goalkeepers, Claudio Bravo even did a remarkable double save which was exhilarating to watch.

The first half was balanced, it wasn’t inclined to either side. The second half which was of course kicked off by Manchester City experienced multiple attacks by the City strikers. David De Gea has to be given credit for stopping all the shots that came his way, supported by a responsive defense, the United side was able to hold and launch some counter attacks but did not see any opening in the score. Up to the 62nd minute the scores remained nil-nil. In the 75th minute, Claudio Bravo was carried off the field due to an injury
Fellaini recceived a Yellow card in the 82nd minute for committing a foul on Sergio Aguero and the following minute he received a red card because he intentionally head butted Sergio Aguero, the former claimed that Aguero instigated him so that he (Fellaini) would be sent off. No one knows what really happened but the sending off opened up new opportunities for Manchester City to explore and exploit, United now had to hold their ground.

Exploiting the one man advantage, Manchester City’s G. Jesus put the ball into the back of the net, the only time the ball ever went into the back of the net for the entire duration of the match was ruled offside. Happiness and joy was replaced by anger and frustration on the faces of the City players, supports and of course Pep Guardiola. The match ended at nil-nil. As much as the match was exciting, it had to be left inconclusive.

The question now lies is the problem Jose Mourinho has to face, with absence of key players like Mata, Ibrahimovic, Fellaini etc. he will have to face the remaining fixtures and the Europa cup fixtures just around the corner, at a reduced squad strength. Only time will tell how he will manage this situation.

Priyamvad Rai

172nd Manchester Derby

10th September 2016, witnessed the commencement of the 172nd Manchester Derby at Old Trafford in Manchester (Duh!). Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola resume their rivalry with this Derby. Not taking the result into consideration the match was an exciting one.

In the first 45 minutes of the match, Manchester United was visibly distraught and Manchester City dominated the field. 15 minutes into the match, Kevin De Bruyne scored in the lower left corner of the goal post after taking on United’s David De Gea one on one. Taking on this early advantage boosted the morale of an already dominating City side. The passing and receiving of the players was top class and United had a hard time keeping up with the pace of the passing. On the other side, United’s passing was not like it was not like the first few matches. It seemed that they had lost the momentum and motivation which they had at the beginning of the seasons in the first few matches.

At the 36th minute, Kelechi Iheanacho of City scored a goal by shooting the ball which had ricocheted off David De Gea, securing a 2 goal lead over United. After this point it was felt that City had bagged the game. But Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a few tricks up his sleeve, in the 42nd minute United won a free kick, Wayne Rooney launched a volley which City’s goalkeeper, Bravo ran out to intercept but after a mistiming in his punch, the ball went straight to Ibrahimovic, which he with great technique put it in the back of the net.

The goal provided the team much needed morale boost before the first half ended. The first half was exciting and kept me at the edge of my seat and it was no mystery that the second half was going to be the same.

The second half started off with a much stronger United, with many chances being created. With Rashford being brought on, the talented youth brought the much needed pace into the team. He shot at the goal which deflected off Ibrahimovic and went into the back off the net. But it was ruled offside as Ibrahimovic was offside. This was the closest United could get to equalizing in the second half. Things heated up in the final few minutes of the match with United going all in but they couldn’t get the equalizing goal and the match ended at MUN:1-2:MCI.

Manchester City played beautifully even in the absence of some key players. Though it could be argued that it was the poor quality of the other side that allowed them to triumph. Paul Pogba couldn’t get on the ball much often, there were no searching runs from him. Mkhitarayan seemed visibly out of form and he was substituted out, a good decision by Mourinho. United was not playing like they usually do, something was missing in their style of play, maybe the passion or the motivation to play better.

All in all, it was a wonderful and exciting Derby match. Jose Mourinho was clearly disappointed but he should know that this is just the first of many matches to come and he’ll have plenty of chances to get back at Pep Guardiola. Manchester is Blue.

Priyamvad Rai