Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quarters line-up in wimbledon and the WC

Really sad today, as Roddick went out of wimbledon. He was beaten by a certain Y Lu. Once again, it was a 5-setter and once again he lost only one service game through out the match. The same was the case when Roddick lost to Federer in last year's final. With time starting to run out, and only one slam under his belt, Roddick and all his fans (including me) are starting to get a little desperate now. Lets hope he gets the US Open'10. Lu will now face Djokovic in the quarters. The other quarters are Tsonga against Murray, Soderling vs Nadal (interesting game this one), and Federer against the big-hitting Berdych.

Chile Vs Brazil reminded me of Arsenal Vs Chelsea. Chile played the pretty game, but Brazil were the clinical ones. Chile had some nice one-touch youthful passing, but Brazil had the experience at the back and indeed in front of the goal. It was a case of one pass too many as they tried looked for that elusive goal. And once they were 2-0 down they committed too many people too often and were punished by the otherwise unimpressive Robinho whose needed only one-touch to pass the ball into the Chilean net. Kaka also has not found his best form yet and that must worry the 'Samba Boys' going into the match against the Dutch. Brazil vs Holland....thats a really mouth-watering encounter on the cards. Inter team mates Lucio, Maicon and Caesar against Sneijder. Van Persie against former team-mate Gilberto. Robinho against De Jong.

I expect Spain to beat Portugal tomorrow and the Paraguayans are favorites against the Japanese despite the presence of Honda, who has been one of the players of the tournament.

Germany Vs Argentina in the next round is going to be very interesting, with 2 teams in contrasting styles. It will be determination and physical strength of the Germans against fluid passing of the Argentinians. Interestingly for Argentina, they played Mexico in the pre-quarters in the last world cup also and then they lost to Germany. This time, having beaten the Mexicans again, they will be hoping for change of fortunes in the quarters. Ghana vs Uruguay is the other quarter-final and I will be strongly behind Ghana in this one.

Friday, June 18, 2010

French Demise, Serbian fightback, bad refereeing, club vs coountry....etc

France's humiliation was completed when the 37-yr Blanco ran from some 20 yards (his run up was almost as long as Prasad's) and slotted the penalty past Lloris. Indeed, the French have, on paper, have some of the world's most talented players, players playing in Europe's elite clubs. But Club Vs Country is one of big debates in football. Do all players place/give equal importance to their countries as much as their clubs? When you saw the ease with which Barrera (the right-winger of Mexico) cut inside Evra and cut back out into the French "D" before winning rhe penalty, I was thinking to myself, "Would Patrice Evra allow any winger to do this in the English Premier League when he is paying for Manchester United?"....."HELL NO".....
Arsene Wenger, a couple of months back, said that it is the club which pays the player. And these players are being payed by their respective clubs even while they are playing in the world cup. But he said that in the context of who should decide if a player is fully fit to play in the international matches - club or country. In a competition, as elite as the World cup, it was sad to see a high-class defender give up the ghost. Actually, a lot people ask me "Why do football players (like Vander Sar, Scholes) retire from international football and continue playing for their clubs......the answer is simple-- because they are BS ManU players!....hehe......
Actually, it is simlar to asking why did Brett Lee and Flintoff reitre from test cricket and continue playing T20, ODIs and IPL.....It is human nature.....IT IS MONEY!!

Serbians, who were one of the most impressive teams in the world cup qualification matches, took on the Germans after having lost to Ghana. They were pretty much up against it and against a buoyant German side who had demolished the Socceroos 4-0! The referee, however, tried to hog the limelight and did not allow the match to flow.... He made too many stopages, brandished yellow cards for fun, and before you knew Germany were reduced to 10 men. Then, during half time, the referee thinks about what he did and comes out in the second half, tries to compensate, and allows players to get away with tackles which they wouldn't otherwise. "2 wrongs dont make 1 right".....they say. Klose, who always shows up in the world cups with goals from head or boot, would consider himself very unlucky. He will also miss Germany's important next match against Ghana. The Serbs went on to win, thanks to a Jovanivic (who has signed a contract with Liverpool) goal and Stojkovic (Wigan goalie) penalty save. The penalty was conceded after a moment of madness from Red DEVIL Namaja Vidic. There is no questioning the commitment of this "monster", but he does commit some outrageous fouls like this one- extending his arms out in the penalty box. Serbian victory setup a very intriguing finish to this group, which could be an alternative group of death, with only 30 spots seperating the 4 countries in terms of FIFA rankings. I dont think it will be as easy for Ghana against Australia as people think. The Socceroos, even though without Cahill, will come out and fight for their lives. An Aussie victory (unlikely, but possible) would leave all 4 countries on 3 points in the group and setup a mouthwatering final day.

Meanwhile, the Wimbledon draws have been announced. Federer's first major threat would be Tommy Robredo in the 3rd round. Andy Roddick faces Rajeev Ram in the first round.....Rajeev Ram is from the US :(.......But there is some hope for the Indian tennis fans. Harsh Mankad (with his Serbian partner Ilija) has qualified for the doubles. We also have Somdev, Bopanna, Paes and Bhupati (in the doubles).

Meanwhile does anyone know that Asia cup is on. Too many ODIs, too much cricket??
The first match, though, was pretty exciting. Shoaib Akhtar coming back and picking up 3 wickets, Afridi's century, Pakistan's collapse..... I want to watch a 5-match test series involving India.......the last time that happened was in 2002 against the Windies.......!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Joe Cole to Arsenal? Hewitt beats Federer, Azzuri's opener

I'll start off with the most exciting news. claims that Joe Cole has "Signed A Contract To Join Arsenal After World Cup 2010". ("

Here are the clauses:
* free transfer
* Deal agreed in principal before player flew out to the World Cup
* England midfielder's move will be completed if he passes full medical
* Three-year, £80,000-a-week contract laden with incentives

I will not be suprised if this deal does not go through. It is not really a "Wenger" kind of signing. But then, I will be delighted if he does come. With the new Barca president pushing hard for Fabregas (, at people like Martin Keown saying that "Fabregas exit is inevitable", I am starting to fear the worst. If the "inevitable" does happen, then Joe Cole could play wide and Nasri could play in the position of Cesc.

Australian Lleyton Hewitt (just noticed that his name starts with two ls and ends with 2 ts), "fought" back to beat the world no.2, Foger Federer 3-6, 7-6,6-4, at the Halle grasscourt (warm up tournament for Wimbledon). This was Federer's 2nd loss since 2003. His record is now 76-2. The other loss was to Nadal in wimbledon 2008. So, here is again, is Roger Federer. At the same place where he was last year this time. On a losing streak, dethroned to no.2, critics asking "is this the beginning of the end?". I really hate to see this. Especially, comparing Roger with Sachin. when people talk BS about someone who has been one of the greats, achieved so much and does not need to prove anyone to anything anymore. If I were not a Roddick fan, I would be rooting for Federer in this Wimbledon.

It was a "mixed" day for the Azzuri,as they drew with Paraguay 1-1. It was a physical and a really fast game. Tackles flying and the ball going from one side to another in seconds. The Italians had a similar start in the '06 world cup, when they finished with 10-man against a 9-man US team 1-1!! This one, thought, was not as dramatic as that. Not, at least in terms of red cards. This was a very inexperienced looking Azzuri line-up, with the likes of Pirlo and Gattuso on the bench. Buffon, Cannavaro, Zambrotta and De Rossi were the only 4 starters who had also started in teh 06 world cup final. The Azzuri were dealt another blow, when Bufffon had to go off injured at half time. It required a mistake by the Paraguayan goalie, for Italy to come back into the match. Talking about Paraguayan goalies, does anyone remember that crazy guy, Chilavert? So, Italians now face New Zealand and then Slovakia. It is an easy pool, but I hope they dont mess up. Seeing what I saw today, they should be able to beat those two comfortably.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

FO finals, Yuvraj Dropped, Sachin Rested, Arsenal Sign Dutch youngster, Benitez at Inter

After signing Marouanne the Morroccan, Wenger signed this Dutch under-16 youngster Kyle Ebecilio. He is apparently a powerful midfield player, in the Michael Essien mold. I know most Arsenal fans are not too happy about this signing, but I for one, am very much behind Wenger on this. Signing experienced players does not mean we should stop signing youngsters. Wenger has already come out and said that he wants to beef up the defence. ( So relax, you gunners. In Arsene we trust. Meanwhile, Senderos has signed for Fulham. I am not sure about the transfer fee. I wish that we get Hangelaand and pay them some extra money to round of the Senderos deal.

Elsewere, Nani has been ruled out of the world cup and Rafa Benitez has agreed a deal with Inter.

French open mens final was an anti-climax. Nadal got his revenge from last year. This was one match I was so looking forward to and I felt it got over before it started. On the womens side, Schiavonne became the first Italian to win the FO. Good omens for the Azurri?? Paes-Dloghy lost in the final to some unknown pair. All these years, Paes seems to be another one of those unsung heroes. He has consistently reached the final of so many grand slams and won a lot of them too. He was the winner last year (pairing with Dloghy again) and won in '99 and '01 with Bhupati. He also came to the final in '05 in mixed doubles. And all this, I am talking only French open.

In Harare, Brendon Taylot steered Zimbabwe to yet another victory. What a tournament for them. They have a great chance to win this series and start ressurecting their status in int'l cricket again. They have been a major downward slide ever since the likes of A Flower Brothers, Streak, Neil Johnson, Murray Goodwin, Andy Blignaut left the side due to Political unrest in Zimbabwe. Go ZIM!

Kiran More has said that dropping Uvraj was a 'mistake'. I have mixed feelings about it. I think this will be a temporary thing and Yuvraj will be back in the next series. But, dropping him now was, again the correct decision. He has not been fit, he has not been in form, he does not really look to be mentally up there. So, let him go back, do the basics and come back fitter and better.

People have alleged Sachin of placing country ahead of personal interests saying he should rest for IPL and play in the Asia cup. I think Sachin has made the correct decision. Asia cup is just one of many series' that India plays. IPL, on the other hand, is one of its kind. It is a new concept, and something which Sachin (or any other player) has not had a taste of. Besides, this is the time India need to start building for the WC'11. So, it empties one slot for Gary Kirsten to try different players/combinations. It is important that Sachin stays fit for the WC, especially looking at the frailties in the Indian batting line-up.

By the by.......I went to this mall in NY last week and wnated to share these pictures.......

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wally's woes and Nadal's Foes

Theo Walcott's omission in the 23-man squad has been the talking point ever since the squad has been announced. I, as much as an Arsenal fan I am, was not surpirsed at his non-selection. On current form, Lennon and SWP definitely pick themselves before the Arsenal rookie. Time is on his side though. Walcott is only about 21 now, and potentially has 2, of not 3, world cups to look forward to. Its funny, that he was in the squad to Germany in 2006 and now after 4 years he has been dropped.

Rafael Nadal has setup a clash with Soderling in a mouth watering men's final. It is kind of fitting that the guy who beat Federer plays Nadal in the final. It was a HARD fought match for Soderling, as he battled past the dogged Czech in 5 sets. It was much easier for Nadal as compared to the Swede, though he was made to stretch in the 3rd set by the Austrian, Melzer. Soderling and Nadal hate each other ( Last year, it was Soderling, who defeated Nadal in the French Open, in one of the upsets of the season. Both players are playing one of the best clay court, hard-hitting baseline tennis. If Nadal wins this, he goes number 1. If not, he stays second. It all adds up to the atmosphere. Nadal has a 60-40 advantage on paper. But alas, sport is not played on paper!

Meanwhile, Ferdinand and Drogba have been ruled out of their squads after suffering injuries. Ferdinand sufffered a recurrence of his back injury and Drogba 'broke' his arm. Ferdi's absence means the Tottenscum's Ledley King is likely to fill in for him. Considering King's inspirational performances towards the end of the season for the spuds, and Ferdinand's woeful defending off late (the goal he conceded to Bellamy of Man. City comes to mind immediately), the could be a blessing in disguise for England. Btw, who will be their captain now?
Lampard? Gerrard? Rooney?
I'll say the selectors will go for Lampard. Though it is funny to think that Terry is Lamp's skipper at Chelsea.

My boss, the Ivory Coast guy, says that Drogba's absence is also a blessing in disguise for the elephants. Apparently, Ivory coast play one-touch passing, ala the gunners and hardly put crosses into the box. A hardworker like Aruna Diadane might just be what the Ivorians want up-front.

China have beaten France in a world cup friendly. Though I dont read too much into the warmups. The french, very lucky to qualify for the WC'10, in the first place, are looking a jaded side. In a pool which includes the hosts Safricans, Uruguay and Mexico, I will not be surprised if they are eliminated in the first round.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Bentitez parts with Liverpool, Zim's win and French Open

Starting with the gunners, Barca's "formal bid" has been rejected by Arsenal FC. After Messi, Puyol, Iniesta etc etc, Xavi is the latest one to come out and say "Fabregas would suit Barcelona, Fab has Barca genes.....etc etc". Are we not all so sick of it already? Why dont these players concentrate on the WC now? I know that it is the club which pays them. But a little bit of loyalty towards the country wont hurt them.

Elsewhere, Rafa Benitez and Liverpool have 'mutually agreed' to part ways. The Liverpool gafa had signed a 5-yr contract last season. But, ousted out of the champions league in the preliminary rounds and finishing outside top 4 was not acceptable to the Liverpool board and he was asked to leave. He is expected to take over the reigns at Inter.

In the WC warmup, Carlos Vela scored for Mehico as they beat the Azzuri 2-1. Happy that Vela scored. Not too sad that Italy lost. Let the real thing begin, and hopefully the Azzuri will be up and running.

Zim beat India for the second time in the series. They did it with a bonus point too. Actually not many people know about this ODI triangular series, also involving, surprise surprise Srilanka. India now have to beat Srilanka in the last game with a bonus point to get to the final. Aah.....who cares? The timing of this series is defeinitely one to be questioned. Immediately after the IPL and T20 WC, probably there is only one team which is benefited from this-- Zimbabwe. So, I wont be to unhappy to see them win this series.

Samantha Stosur of Autralia and Schiavonne of Italy will play the Women's FO final. Schiavonne, apparently, is the first Italian to reach the FO final. Stosur, the one who plays with her shades, is the favorite, with wins over Justine Henin and Serana on the way to the FO final.

In the mens, Nadal plays Melzer of Austria and Soderling plays Berdych. In the quarters, Nadal bt Almagro (who I expected to do well) in straight sets. But, this must be one of the hardest straight sets win for Nadal. For the most part, Almagro looked the better player in the first 2 sets.
Djokovic looked to be in the cuise mode against Melzer, before his breathing problems came back to haunt him. He was 2 sets and a break up before going on to lose the match. Soderling, of course beat none other than 'Roi Rodge' in 4 sets. It was a rain-affected match. But, Soderling was just too powerful for the world no 1 on this day. He has become the upset-man now. Last year, Soderling bt Nadal and now Federer.