Friday, May 25, 2007

Champions League final ratings

Well.......we all saw the match.....and for once my predictions came good.....

Following are the ratings (marks out of 10)

AC Milan (4-3-2-1)

Dida - 7

Flawless display capped by two important stops, from Jermaine Pennant early on and Steven Gerrard midway through the second half.

Massimo Oddo - 6

Kept Bolo Zenden quiet and pushed forward occasionally

Alessandro Nesta - 8

Flawless display at the heart of the Milan defence, coped well with physical challenge of Dirk Kuyt

Paolo Maldini - 7

Equalled Francisco Gente's record of eight European Cup final appearances and capped night to remember with display of all his defending experience.

Marek Jankulovski - 5

Pushed forward to good effect early on but defensive mistakes would have been costly if Liverpool had capitalised on them.

Gennaro Gattuso - 5

Not his usual influential self, picked up booking for crude challenge on Xabi Alonso.

Andrea Pirlo - 6

Never really sparkled against Liverpool's packed defence but typically well-struck free-kick led to Milan's crucial opener.

Massimo Ambrosini - 6

Busy ball-winning display in midfield, helped steady the ship as Milan held out after the break.

Clarence Seedorf - 6

Never got into the match, most of his best work done defensively.

Kaka - 7

No goals to add to the ten he plundered en route to the final but won the free-kick for Milan's opener and then set up Inzaghi for the second.

Filippo Inzaghi - 8

Fully justified Carlo Ancelotti's decision to start him ahead of Alberto Gilardino. Did not know much about the first goal but took the second like the great finisher he is.

Liverpool (4-5-1)

Jose Reina - 6

Could not be blamed for either of Milan's goals. Otherwise had little to do.

Steve Finnan - 6

Industrious as ever at right-back but added little in terms of Liverpool's forward movement.

Jamie Carragher - 6

Solid match but was caught out of position as Kaka set up Inzaghi for Milan's second.

Daniel Agger - 5

Lucky to escape a first-half booking for crude challenge on Kaka, will share blame for Milan's second goal.

John Arne Riise - 6

One good first-half shot whistled narrowly over the bar but exposed at times defensively.

Jermaine Pennant - 6

Lively in the first-half, came close to giving Liverpool an early lead with shot from tight angle. But poor crossing ensured he did not always make most of good positions.

Javier Mascherano - 7

Typically combative performance from the Argentinian. Ultimately could not contain Kaka but that has been the case for all his peers this season.

Xabi Alonso - 6

An impeccable first-half performance was blotted by the foul on Kaka which allowed Milan to take the lead.

Steven Gerrard - 6

Exuded drive and energy in second-striker role but finishing let him down when he failed to beat Dida with Liverpool's best chance of an equaliser at 1-0.

Bolo Zenden - 4

Anonymous and may not have fully recovered from an ankle injury replaced after an hour by Harry Kewell, who made no greater impression on the left.

Dirk Kuyt - 5

Scored with a late header but lost his personal battle with Nesta and never really looked like generating openings for his team-mates.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nadal Defeat and French Open Hopes

King of clay Nadal was dethroned last week by none other then king of grass Roger Federer. Federer finally overcame Nadal on clay in the final of the Hamburg Masters thus breaking the phenomenal 81 matches winning streak of Nadal on clay. Federer was unable to beat Nadal in previous 5 occasions on clay but finally on Sunday he showed his class on Clay court beating Nadal 26 62 60.

Now all eyes of tennis fans will move to the French open which begins on Sunday 27th May. Defeat of Nadal at the hands of Federer will give much needed confidence to beat Nadal, now players of the likes of Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Gonzalez, Novak Djokovic , Tommy Robredro will go to Paris with positive hopes in the second major of year.

This win will also give Federer confidence as he is going through lean phase for the first time since he became no. 1 in 2004. Federer is struggling by his standards and this victory has come at a crucial time. But beating Nadal at his den will be very difficult.

Let's switch over to Paris for enthralling tennis. Will it be Nadal again or will Federer will overcome his nemises this time or will it be some one else may be Fernando, Davydenko : we will have to wait till 10th, but one thing is sure it will not as easy as last year, others have raised their bar to beat Nadal and Federer.
Will they be successful ??? Let's enjoy the beautiful game of tennis in beautiful city of Paris from our homes :)

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Spanish Primera

It can't get better then this in Spanish Primera. Those with weak hearts should stop watching, even I can't watch because of almost nil coverage of Spanish lega and when star sports shows, its too late to watch. But what a season we are witnessing this year, top four teams in 4 point difference with Barca and Real Madrid at same point but Real ahead of barca on head to head count. With just three more days left Day 36 on 27th May, Day 37 on june 10 and Day 38 on june 17 to decide the winner of this season, nobody is sure who is going to win the cup. So much is at stake for all the teams this season except Sevilla who has something to cheer about after winning the UEFA Cup.

Day 35 was the highest scoring day in this season will all the teams scoring goals like the teams hit sixes in WI world cup. Barcelona trounced Atletico Madrid in a tennis like score 6-0.

Espanyol 1-5 Getafe
Atlético 0-6 Barcelona
Betis 1-1 Nàstic
Sociedad 3-1 Celta
Levante 1-4 Osasuna
Villarreal 2-1 Racing
Mallorca 0-1 Valencia
Zaragoza 4-3 Athletic
Deportivo 1-2 Sevilla
Recreativo 2-3 R Madrid

Day 35 - May 20

Team GP W D L Pts GF GA GD
Barcelona 35 20 9 6 69 70 30 40
Real Madrid 35 21 6 8 69 58 36 22
Sevilla 35 20 7 8 67 61 33 28
Valencia 35 20 5 10 65 50 32 18

Meanwhile I have installed FiFa07 on my lapy and have started the Spanish Primera season and will take Barcelona to the Cup victory before 17th June :)

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EPL Fans Must Read's Goal Rush

Friday, May 11, 2007

Singapore Night F1

Its confirmed now , Singapore will become the first country to host F1 in night next year i.e 2008. It will be an street race scheduled to take place some where in September and October next year. This is the second country to be added in the ever growing F1 circuit, Valencia confirmed few days back its own street grand prix next year.

Ecclestone said

“I am very pleased to welcome Singapore to the Formula 1 family and we look forward to this exotic addition to the championship,”

“This will be the first fully lit street race in Formula 1.

“As a night race we anticipate it will quickly establish itself as one of the most dramatic and atmospheric races on our calendar.

“I know the Formula 1 drivers, teams and fans are all looking forward to coming to Singapore next year.”

The race will take place on public roads around the downtown Marina Bay area, with the race proposals including powerful lighting systems that will replicate daylight conditions and stringent safety measures to ensure both driver and spectator safety.

“It will be more than just a motor race,” said Singapore's minister of state for trade and industry, Mr S Iswaran. “We envision it to be a national festival, and one that presents many opportunities for participation for everyone, both visitors and Singaporeans alike.

This is good news for the vast European fans who can now watch the race in a very suitable time.
Here in India rumors or you can say news that F1 round the Janpath in Delhi are increasing, I am eagerly waiting when will that news be confirmed . But one big question which comes in my mind why every event is being hosted in Delhi. Commonwealth in Delhi bid for Asiad in Delhi F1 in Delhi and I guess Olympics in Delhi. One reason which I can find out is funda of recycling invest for Commonwealth and then use the infrastructure for other big events. Common India is very big we can host in many other cities. Show the real India to outer world Delhi alone is not India.

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F1 in floodlights

img: BBC

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cricket: India tour of Bangladesh

1st ODI: Bangladesh v India at Dhaka (SBNS), May 10, 2007
Result: India won by 5 wickets (with 6 balls remaining)

India survives the challenge

Oh YES! it was a pure pulling-themselves-out-of-the-dungeon thing, they manage to keep the pride intact but the thrashing was never convincing. For record, Ravi Shastri won his first match as coach. But before those rounds of handshake between the players (at the end of 46th over of 2nd innings), this hard winning battle that took place in a very torrid weather (too hot & too humid) saw Indian batsman well-challanged by Bangla's spinner as the wicket slowed down in the later half of the innings. After some blitzing but very short display of form shown by Indian openers (Gambhir n Sehwag), the mainstay of Indian middle order (Yuvraj, Dravid n Mongia) couldn't get going as Rafique n Razzak's bowled left-arm spin in tandem. But India found form in Dhoni (who came 1-down) & Karthik, their two wicketkeeper batsmen, who punched n swept respectively to keep the spinners at bay. Their critical n calm 6th wicket partnership of 107 runs powered India to 5 wicket win with 6 balls remaining.

Earlier, Bangladesh won the toss and Bashar elected to bat first knowing that a score of 230-240 on board will be enough for his bowlers to put a fight. Tamim Iqbal start from where he left in his last game against visitors as Zaheer spell of 5 overs went for 33 runs without any scalp. Though Sreesanth was looking in control of his line n length, his short term threat was ended by a hamstring injury that pulls him out of the rest of the inning. Javed Omar kept his calm, and together the openers put up a partenership of 78 runs before Iqbal lofted Mongia incorrectly to long on, while 2nd powerplay was not yet taken. Omar was patient for his 80 as he drives n cuts across his legs to spinners. The talented Saqibul Hasan was another reassurance for them, as Bangladesh put up 250 in a 47 over match.

There are enough positives being taken from both sides. While Rahul Dravid gave an answer to his critics by opting for Mongia, Ramesh Powar produced a gem of the spell in the middle overs. Dinesh Karthick who didn't play any role in India's exit in World Cup proved his worth today as his fielding inside the circle gives the glimpse of Kaif at times. Bangladesh would be happy to find their batsmen in form and with Mortaza coming back in next match, they are still in the game and well armed for their neighbours as they play them again on 12th of May.

Bangladesh: 7/250 in 47 overs (Omar 80, Saqibul 50, Dinesh Mongia 3/49, Powar 2/55)
India: 5/251 in 46(47) overs (Dhoni 91*, Karthik 58*, Saqibul 2/43, Rasel 2/66)

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Istanbul to Athens!!

While the never-ending cricket season continues, the football season is coming to an end. Manchester United have regained the coveted Premier League. The FA cup final promises to be a cracker. While United will be looking to add insult to injury on Chelsea, Maurinho will be looking for his first FA cup win in probably his last attempt as rumors say that the Porugese is on his way out of Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile in Spain its getting too close,

Barcelona 33 19 8 6 63 29 34 65
Real Madrid 33 19 6 8 51 31 20 63
Sevilla 33 18 7 8 57 31 26 61
Valencia 33 18 5 10 47 32 15 59

The Catalans' superior goal difference means that, they can afford to drop a couple of points and yet retain the La Liga title.

But I have not yet talked about the big one. (Ab ek phata hua, Dk se bhi zyada) All galis, roads, flights, trains lead to Athens (Desi- remember last year's bet on Liverpool/Lyon. Probably you should have betted on them this year) But, to me Milan are the favorites. No, not the revenge factor.

I just feel they are a much better side. Gattuso and Pirlo will do Gerrard what they did to United's Ronaldo. The back four looks solid despite the average age touching the 33-34 mark. Inzaghi and Gilardino are taking the chances when they come in spite of being not-so spectacular. I think till now, the players I have mentioned, Liverpool have an answer. If you have Pirlo we have Gerrard, if you have Gattuso we have Alonso, if you have Maldini we have Risse, if you have Inzaghi we have Crouch. But I think you might have guessed by now, Liverpool wont have answer to the question if you have KAKA!!

Its the old hindi cricket commentator's comment 'Inki jitni tareef ki jaye utna hi cum hoga'!! I know, there will be some Liverpool fans who wont agree to what I am saying. But, I think we should wait for the 23 night now before further discussions. Anyway, while its hard for the two teams to provide us the same drama which they did two years back, even if its 10% as exciting, it should be fun. It does promise to be an absolute cracker.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Cricket: Indians are back in business.

Heya, The World Cup is over (but bloggers never retire), and so is that unrelenting n vibe atmosphere, where the cricketing world discovered the new Runner-up, ofcourse, ICC might be thinking of shortening the pattern the tournament followed when every approach eventually leads to only one conclusive winner. We realized that even the average performance by the Aussies could surpass around dozen teams that featured in the tournament. In last four years, every time when a team raised its performance standard, we would compare it with this very talented bunch of specimens in yellow. It was India in 2003-04, followed by England, South Africa, New Zealand, and in this tournament Sri Lanka looked to be the only team who could have challenged them. But when the D-Day arrived, Sri Lanka faced an unexpected threat from someone against whom they might didn't have any plans.

Anyways, we have another 4 years now to talk all that that has happened. For me, the biggest irony is that, after India, Pakistan humiliating exit so early in the tournament, if Britannia will come up with any short "Do you know" book talking abt CWC-2007, India will be remembered as the team that registered highest team score in the WC (414/5 again BMU) & Imran Nazir (Pakistan opener) for his highest individual score (160 against ZIM). This is Optimism at its best.

So now the WC is over and players are back with their families enjoying some light moments to cover up for the tough last 2 months. For some of the countries, their next official international outing will be in September (Twenty20 WC) in Sri Lanka. But, India has some other plans for its biggest fan following. No idea, whether they knew it well in advance that they are not gonna make it to semifinal stage (alas!, they didn't even get till Super 8), that they will be playing Bangladesh in the second week of May.

BCCI has acted very strongly against their team for its forgettable n unforgiving performance in WC. They have cancelled their previous contracts and have introduced new ones on performance basis (As expected, this has lead to row b/w players n board about which we are gonna listen in months to come). New rules pertaining to player's endorsements. They are searching more desparately now to induce some fresh talent in their ODI team. Looking for fresh inspiration, they have gone ahead and selected a new coach-cum-manager in Ravi Shastri, Fielding Coach as Robin Singh, and Venkatesh Prasad as Bowling Coach.

India were ousted from the World Cup after their five-wicket defeat to Bangladesh in Trinidad, and this tour that will last more than 3 weeks gives Rahul and his men an opportunity to redeem some pride and put that defeat behind them. They say its not a revenge series (though it wasn't when it was planned months ago), but for Indian junta, who knows very well how to forgive n forget, haven't forgotten India's recent debacle easily. Yeah!, today we are in the same seat in which West Indians were in 1983 when they beated us black n blue following their WC defeat in finals. Indian fans wants the same performance full of passion from their men now. So now what is Bashar saying, that he is not afraid. That his team has drawn enough confidence and they have some very good match turning players in Ashraful, Mortaza. Gaud, he is right. For this being Whatmore's last assignment as B'desh coach, he will be looking forward to some more feathers in his cap. He has made this team look more threatening than ever and the upset victories are more frequent now. And now is their time to consolidate over the advance made in the world cup. But they also need to realize that they are up against an opposition whose egos have been hurt and would be yearning to prove a point or two, more for themselves rather. India who has kept Tendulkar, Ganguly out of ODI team(expecting a tough season ahead) will be looking forward to their young talents in Gambhir, Yuvraj, Piyush Chawla, Manoj Tiwary et al as they play three ODIs, on May 10, 12, and 15, before going into two back-to-back Tests.

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