Switching loyalties

Isn’t it amazing how the soccer players switch their loyalties within no time?

International World Cup qualifiers are underway and the club players are playing for their national teams against their very own club mates. And they are playing alongside players who are their ‘foes’ for most part of the year.

It is the height of professionalism? Is not it difficult for the players to adjust? A thousand case studies can be developed on this subject…

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We are the champions! :)

We are the champions… the EUROPEAN champions. Man Utd has won the Champions League 2008. We have reached the ‘promised land’ of European soccer by defeating premiership ‘rivals’ Chelsea in an enticing thriller of an encounter in Moscow last night.

It’s been an amazing season for Manchester United football club (MUFC). They have won the English Premier League (EPL) for the second successive time, which created a record 10 premiership wins for MUFC under the able guidance of Sir Alex Fergusson as manager.

Last night’s victory was special in its own way:

  • 50 years ago, in 1958, a plane carrying Manchester United players crashed on the run way in Munich. 8 players died during the accident which shocked the entire world. It took them years to recover from the loss.
  • Sir Matt Busby, one of the survivors himself rebuilt a team around the other crash survivors. His team was famously called the ‘Busby babes’. It was 40 years ago in 1968, that they won their first European Cup.
  • Ryan Giggs surpassed Bobby Charlton’s record of maximum number of appearances for Man-U when he substituted Paul Scholes last night.
  • It was an all English clubs final for the first time in the history of Champions League.
  • In all previous Champions League finals where clubs from the same country played, the club which was lower on the table in the domestic competition won the cup. Last night it was destined to be different … Man-U won the cup despite being the champions at home.
  • Man-U had never won a major tie on the basis of penalties under Ferguson before.
  • Paul Scholes, one of Ferguson’s all time favorites, could not play during the famous Champions League final victory against Bayern Munich at Cam Nou in 1999 due to suspension. In this edition, he not only played but also had a crucial role in winning the cup.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo dismissed his critics by scoring in one of the biggest matches of his life.

Last night, Man-U dominated the first half. Kudos to Chelsea’s Cech who made two crucial saves. It was a characteristic Chelsea equalizer just before half time that brought them back into the game. Second half went Chelsea’s way as they created more chances and caused a lot of scare for Man-U. Extra time, stoppage time could not bring anything substantial and finally it was on the goal keepers to steal the victory for their sides.

Penalty shoot outs are often very unpredictable. After Ronaldo missed the 3rd penalty and Chelsea scored the subsequent one, they were back on top. I some how had a feeling inside, “No! No! We just cannot afford to lose… It cannot happen… It was gonna be our day” John Terry missed the last penalty after slipping on the pitch… Luck was there on our side.

When Van der Sar saved the shot from Anelka, that was the bestest thing to have happened to me… I was so emotional by then that I wanted to jump with joy. I don’t know why I have become so passionate about a game like soccer which was almost unknown to me only two years back. Manchester United was something that I had heard of but I never thought someday I would become a crazy fan of this mighty club. All the time while I was fighting with my life’s own problems, I started following this club… It did really help me a lot in diverting my attention from shitty things during my free time. Thanks Man-U!!! Thanks a ton… for all the happiness.

Some Links for the game here:

1. Penalty Shoot outs: Link

2. Award ceremony: Link

3. Celebration: Link

Glory glory Man United

We are the champions.

Manchester United defeated Wigan 2-0 to win yet another EPL title. Starting the league on the back foot with a draw and a humiliating defeat against Manchester City, ManUtd has carried forward its tradition of bouncing back during the crunch moments.

Arsenal was playing really well when the league started but they could not continue with their rhythm. Chelsea, on the other hand was trailing back but their fighting spirit and the 2-0 win against Man Utd at Stamford Bridge kept the title race alive.

Now, the wait for Moscow begins. Fergy and his boys truly deserve a double. 🙂

Just another blog post…

The last few days of any sporting season are full of thrill and excitement. EPL countdown has begun and the Champions League final in Moscow is less than a month away. Man-U is on its way to grab its second successive Premiership title and it is still in the race for another European glory. I am a die-hard ManU supporter and I would love it if we can make it a double this time.

ManU plays Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow. A win would ensure that the league is ours… I hope we can seal the fate tomorrow itself without waiting for too long and then go and outplay Barca in the Champions League semi final at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Soccer is a beautiful game. The intensity, fervor and passion make the game so special. Sadly, the situation of soccer in the country is not as good. Recently, I came across a piece of news saying that India has signed a treaty with Brazil where we will be teaching cricket to the Latin Football giant and in turn, they will return the favor by teaching football to our players. This is a positive step but in India, we are always good at making plans and strategies, whereas execution always takes a back seat. Let us see… We can always hope for something good.

India is a huge country. We definitely have a great scope for another sport where we can excel. No, I am not talking about eating away any fan following from cricket. Fans are not exclusive as far as sports are concerned… But, a game like soccer can have mass fan following in the country. There are pockets like Bengal and Goa where soccer is being followed locally with unmatched interests. The same can happen on a global level provided; people get to see some quality games from quality players.

Well, after quite a bit of prodding, I thought it was high time I should get a Manchester United jersey. Although, the price tag always repelled me, I decided to keep my senses at bay and bought one at the forum mall here in Bangalore. It did cost me some 2300/- odd bucks but a credit card payment ensured that I did not feel it when the money was actually going out of my pocket. But, I guess, it was worth it. I love the club and the team… Hope we win and after that, I would be eagerly waiting for another soccer delicacy, the Euro 2008.