Friday, May 29, 2009

European Football 2008-2009

This season has seen a lot of twists and turns in most of the European Leagues especially the English Premier League and we have finally got new champions in Germany and France.

In Germany, Wolfsburg have won their first ever Bundesliga by just pipping Bayern Munich to the Title. The 5-1 drubbbing of Bayern Munich will forever be etched in people's memory and Graphite's goal will become a part of Football Folklore.

Inter Milan have picked up their Fourth League Title in a row without breaking into a sweat. AC Milan and the others who played catch up throughout have really old sides which need some Fresh Infusion of Youth.

Lyon's streak of 7 consecutive Ligue-1 victories has finally been broken. Bordeaux are the new French Champions and Yoann Gourcuff, Bordeaux's Attacking Midfielder is an exciting prospect and will be closely watched by Europe's Top Football Clubs.

Manchester United take yet another Premier League Title and have finally equalled Liverpool's record of 18 League Titles. It was more a case of Liverpool throwing away the Title than ManU winning it. Liverpool just lost 2 games in the whole campaign but what hurt them the most was their 11 Draws especially at Home against Teams like Stoke City. The Turning Point in the League has to be the Brilliant Strike by Federico Macheda and then following it with another against Sunderland. Aston Villa definitely deserved to win that Match but Destiny had its own course. There was no looking back then for ManU as they neatly wrapped up the Title and drubbed Tottenham 5-2 along the way after trailing 0-2. Liverpool coming back again to Premier League contention and Arshavin's success at Arsenal can only mean a more exciting BPL 2009-10. Steven Gerrard has to be the BPL Player of the Year for me. Whenever he played, Liverpool won convincingly and decisively and that is why Liverpool for me is still a One Man Army. Even Torres when playing alone is only half as effective as Gerrard.

The Spanish League this year was just Brilliant. There was just no stopping Barcelona as they completed their first ever Treble. Real Madrid's consecutive 17 victories threatened to change the course but Barcelona's 2-6 drubbing of Real destroyed all hopes of a comeback. The Trio of Messi, Henry and Etoo was unstoppable scoring some 90+ goals this Season in all Competitions.
Xavi and Iniesta are the two most underrated Footballers in the World. There is no greater delight in the World than watching the two play. Their Passing and Movement can completely destroy an opposition as ManU found out. The vision of Xavi in picking out passes which ordinary people can't even visualize is just Amazing. Iniesta rightly called as 'El Ilusionista' is an Absolute Master of the Art of Ball Control. His runs and cut backs from the left are exemplary which drags Defenders out of Position and allows people like Xavi and Messi to move into the space created . I don't see how anyone can defend against Barcelona and the popular strategy of crowding out Messi is just rubbish as this actually gives more freedom to players like Xavi and Iniesta to work their Magic.

The World Player of the Year 2009 should definitely go to Xavi. I don't see how Ronaldo deserved it last year. It is supposed to be a recognition of your activities at an International Level where Xavi clearly out performed him by winning the Euro 2008 with Spain. The European Player of the Year would be Iniesta for me. Messi is just not good enough when it come to matches against the English Teams and good Defensive oppositions in general whereas Iniesta works his magic at all places. Iniesta has definitely come up with the goods when Barcelona has wanted it the most. I am sure that these two won't get the price in the end as the Players who catch the eye are the ones who are more skillful and flamboyant rather than the ones who turn in day in day out and deliver the goods.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Elections 2009

Surprise was the word for these Elections. Congress didn't expect so many seats, BJP didnt expect so few, LJP got none and for the first time since PV Narasimha Rao's Government we won't get to see Ram Vilas Paswan in the cabinet. This elections has surely seen a change in Bihar and the end of Laloo's reign. No more are the people of Bihar going to vote for Criminals and corrupted Politicians. In Andhra Pradesh Lok Satta won 1 seat, it's a beginning of many good things to come for them. The News channels are busy analyzing what were the reasons for this success of Congress. I have managed to come up with some on my own.

(1) Congress fighting alone in UP. This is not Rahul Gandhi's magic as the Congress claims but a fairly simple case of BJP commiting suicide. The people of UP were fed up with BSP as Mayawati's development activities consisted of putting up statues of herself everywhere. Munnabhai didn't exacly turn on his magic for SP and Kalyan Singh ( The Chief Minister of UP during Babri Masjid Demolitions) joining them meant the Muslim votes were gone. So the people of UP had to choose between BJP and Congress and BJP not taking any action against Varun Gandhi only meant all the votes went to Congress. The BJP should have shared the votes with them but they lost a crucial 10 votes due to this and allowed Congress to put up a reasonable performance in UP after many years.

(2) Kerala's Crests and Trough's. It is a well known fact that the LDF (Left Democratic Front led by CPI) and UDF (United Democratic Front led by Congress) come to power every alternate term. So the UDF was bound to come to power this time around and this helped Congress.

(3) Finally Bengal awakens. Frankly no one knows (except the Kolkata people) as to how the Left has been in power for more than 30 years. It had to happen. Finally the people got tired and voted for their only other option the Trinamool Congress and Congress's pre-poll alliance with them meant they had pulled off an unlikely victory.

(4) Turn around in Rajasthan. This is another instance of BJP shooting itself. Vasundhara Raje frankly didn't learn anything from her loss in the Assembly Elections and BJP's infighting meant the Congress got the loot. The Gujjar controversy during her rule didn't help at all.

(5) Too many cooks spoil the broth. This was the case in Andhra Pradesh. PRP, Left, TRS, TDP, Congress all wanted to rule. People were confused. The Mahakutami Alliance of TRS, TDP and Left had no agenda and they were basically parties with different Ideologies. Chiranjeevi didn't know what he was getting into, accusing Congress of corruption on one hand and selling party tickets on the other is not exacly 'Change'. He also dared to compare himself with Barack Obama. So people went for the choice which looked stable and held more promise.

(6) Congrees for the first time since 1980 projected a Prime Minister before the Elections. The honest face of Manmohan Singh played its part.

(7) Role of BJP. As a primary opposition party, BJP should have exposed the wrongdoings of the previous Government in terms of Security, Economy etc.. Instead they chose to waste their time debating about getting the money back from the Swiss Banks. Narendra Modi got into a useless confrontation with Rahul over the Diamond Workers. It was almost as if Congress played a strategy to lure them away from the real issues. BJP by raising the Ram Temple issue in the middle of elections lost focus. It looked like Congress by literally acquitting Quattrochi lost the plot but by then the Elections were won.

Another Chapter of this great story ends and this war has been won by Congress but there are more bitter battles to come and surprises will naturally follow.

P.S - I wish to Thank my Father for helping me with this Post.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Paths of Glory

I read this interesting book recently by Jeffrey Archer. The story can be described as a biography of George Mallory. He was the leader of a group of Britishers who were attempting to scale the summit of Mount Everest. He tragically died on his third attempt in 1924 and his body was found in 1999 at 8200 metres. The height of Everest is 8848 metres (29002 feet). The climbing community are still divided as to whether he reached the top or not but few doubted his capabilities. There are a couple of contentious points,

(1) One of his team members Noel Odell saw them on the second step ascending strongly to the summit which is about 600 feet from there. Did he reach the top of the world?

(2) He was climbing with a young man, Sandy Irvine whose body has never been found and neither of their Kodak Cameras have been found.

(3) He promised his wife he would leave her photo on top if he made it and when his body was found they found no photo on him!!!

The brilliant thing about that expedition was that they reached a height of about 28150 feet and none of the later expeditions even managed 24000 feet. The route they took was the North Col which is widley accepted as a difficult route compared to the South Col route which is incidentally the route taken by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. The first successful ascent from the North side was only in 1980.

Mallory was a brilliant mountaineer who could find out new routes to the top of a mountain which he had never seen before. He even attempted to climb the Eiffel Tower with bare hands only for the police to catch him. He also served the British Army in the 1st World War.

The book is a brilliant read. I would definitely recommend it although its non fiction.