Madness at the back from Brazil.

6Brazil, Germany, World Cup, FIFA, Football, Sports,

How do Brazil line up without Neymar?

So what does Scolari do without Neymar? Tragic news about the Brazilian poster boy being out of the World Cup. A hammer blow for Brazil ahead of an already difficult semi final vs a wonderfully solid and fluid German side. 

The challenge that ended Neymar’s competition looked a bad one. FIFA will ban people for biting, but not for back-breaking it seems. Sure, Zuniga didn’t mean it but he did mean to clatter Neymar. He had done so the whole match. Not a Suarez defence, rather a plea for consistency. It was a shocking challenge and just because people throw around the ‘this happens in football’ line, doesn’t make it right.

Still leaves Scolari with plenty to do. If he wins the World Cup from here, he would seriously have earned it. You can question Brazil’s tactics against Colombia where they made the game very physical and committed alot of fouls but it worked. Colombia were frustrated and played abysmally in the first half. It cost them the match. Colombia were no saints either but more is expected of Brazil in terms of style and creativity.

Neymar had a quiet match up to when he was injured. Brazil’s problem this tournament has been they have run out of steam. Both against Chile and Colombia they pressed an hurried in the first half and played well only to fade badly in the second half. Inviting Germany onto them will spell disaster. Germany have the quality to hurt Brazil alot in the final third. And with no Thiago Silva (suspended) at the back and Neymar up front, Scolari has a huge dilemma. 

Personally, would bring Dante in to cover Silva at the back. So Cesar with Luiz and Dante. In front of them the returning Gustavo with Marcelo and Maicon at full back. The experienced Maicon did well last night in contrast the haphazard Alves. The midfield would Fernandinho (lucky not to be booked and suspended) and Paulinho (who was better last night) as the engine in the middle with Oscar now in a central role behind the striker. Oscar needs to step up. He has been awful for four games now. Big pressure on him to create with Neymar out. Would play Willian wide and drop Fred and play Hulk through the middle as a centre forward. Hulk can’t finish to save his life but he has come to life in the last two games and has the pace and power to trouble the German back four which lacks speed. Fred is just a giant mountain. Doesn’t move and a waste. 

This side for me has the best chance of beating Germany, however slim that chance is. Brazil will need to call on all their discipline which has been lacking so far if they are to realise their dream of winning the cup on home soil. In their way are now shattered vertebrae, yellow cards and 11 very focussed, very talented Germans.

Add to it the fervour of home support and you have all the ingredients for a classic if the hosts can raise their game.

Could be a cracker.

6World Cup 2014, Brazil, Germany, Neymar, Silva, Football, Sports,

"What a Start…" - Review of the Big Boys after the First Round

So we have seen every team play once. The first round of the group games is done and what a set of games its been so far. The first 17 games has produced 48 goals, 6 penalties and 3 red cards. Eventful. Its been the most enjoyable start to the World Cup in ages. Great games, great goals and plenty of surprises.

So what of the big boys who were expected to set the tournament on fire?

Brazil — Seen them twice now. Been a distinct disappointment. As expected Neymar has been their main man but the attack has been disjoint mostly and he has not inconsistent support. A win versus Croatia was marred by poor refereeing and a dreadful penalty award for the hosts. The hope for a better show vs Mexico quickly disappeared as the well organised Mexicans really caused Brazil problems. Yes, their goal-keeper made the save of the tournament and more to keep out Neymar and others but only off set pieces and by and large, Brazil’s attack has been turgid. The defence looks all over the place. Croatia and Mexico caused them huge problems and the fact that the full backs leave so much space means teams can quickly counter and get at that back three. 

Overall — Scolari has a problem. Fred is a passenger and Brazil look ordinary. The defence is a mess and bench quality is an issue. They will get out of the group but will be lucky to make the quarters on this form.

Spain — Have a defending champions ever started so badly? Holland’s 5-1 demolition of Spain shocked the world. The signs were there that the Spanish weren’t the same but a host of dreadful individual errors added to the Dutch delight. Spain’s World Cup and European success was based on intensity, especially when they didn’t have the ball. That is all gone now and Spain invited the Dutch to run into space and were punished for it. The issue for them also lies in attack. No front man to score goals and a midfield that lacks pace and penetration. Del Bosque would be well to play Navas as he at least provides cutting edge.

Overall — Have a real fight to survive the group. Chile a very real threat and Spain must show greater will to beat them. Should they do that, they could well recover at this tournment. You worry about where the goals will come from though.

Holland — Coming off a miserable European Championships, no one had talked alot of the Dutch at Brazil. They changed that on the second night against holders Spain. Despite going behind to a dubious penalty, Robben and RVP struck twice each to dismantle the Champions. The Dutch could have scored more. Incisive in attack and solid in defence, the Dutch looked like a team that can go very far in the tournament. They should now easily make the quarter finals but need to watch their discipline at the back. De Jong worries me. Looks like he could explode. Must match the intensity they displayed against Spain. Van Gaal has a massive part to play in that. RVP scored the goal of the first round and Holland were the best side too.

Overall — Look like they can dream about finally breaking that World Cup jinx. Would be popular winners for me. Robben is key though and his form and fitness will determine how far they go. Good to see RVP scoring goals too. World class strikers are at a premium.

Italy — Played England in the best game of the tournament. Hot and humid in the Amazon but both sides delivered a game of great quality won by the Italians to their great credit. Pirlo still the master for them. Dictated everything and ruled the midfield. Brought class and experience to the side helped by some youthful exuberance from Darmian and Candreva who were very impressive. Solid at the back too as expected, the Italians will get better as they drained in the heat. As fitness improves so will they. Balotelli won them the match and so much depends on him you feel to score the goals. If he is in the mood, Italy have the side to deliver the goods. But can he keep his head? Disappointing in 2010, the Italians, off some mixed results, look like their 2006 vintage.

Overall — Still work to do. Tough game vs Uruguay and the surprising Costa Rica mean that Italy still need to focus. Prandelli though will keep them hugely committed and with Pirlo putting the strings, the quarters beckon for Italy. After that, who knows?

France — How poor were they in 2010? Disjoint and dumped out in round one. France have alot to prove in Brazil and when Ribery was ruled out of the tournament you feared the worst. To be honest, we don’t quite know what to make of them yet. They cruised to a 3-0 vs Hondurus in their opening game but were hardly stellar. They struggled in the first half and only made it count when the South Americans tired. They are in a fairly easy group but I worry about them against the better sides. Their clash with Switzerland will show more what they are made of. Benzema started well and that is a good sign but the jury is still out on Dechamps side.

Overall — Should get out of the group easily. But from there who knows. Defensively strong so can grind out results but do they have the class to go all the way? I doubt it but there were encouraging signs especially in the second half in their opener.

Argentina — My favourites for the tournament. Argentina started at the Maracana and the stage was set for Messi. Sadly he was mostly missing and they stuggled against a well marshalled Bosnia. But it takes one moment for a genius and in the second half it arrived. With a tricky run he sliced open the defence before striking a beautiful left foot drive home. It sealed the points for Argentina but honestly Messi won’t be happy. Neither will the fans. Top gear needs to be found which could be hard as the remaining group opponents aren’t great. Still the quality is there and although Aguero and the rest didn’t do brilliantly, they did enough. Di Maria was my star man and I think he could be the guy to take the pressure of Messi. Burrachaga to Messi’s Maradona.

Overall — Argentina remain my favourites despite a lukewarm opening. They will improve and should sail smoothly through to the quarter finals. A lack of real quality opposition is a worry but they can use that to get Messi, Aguero et al into top form.

Germany — The European favourites started with a potentially tough tie vs Portugal and C-Ron. At the end of 90 minutes, the Iberians were mauled and the German machine looked as efficient and ruthless as ever. In a mirror to the Spain — Holland game, the Germans and Mueller in particular cut apart Portugal, who were down to 10 men after a Pepe brain explosion. Perhaps could have got more but 4-0 was emphatic enough at this level. The lack of pace at the back still worries me and early on C-Ron caused them some problems. In a tighter game, that defence could be an achilles heel. But they looks so fluid in attack. Like a German automobile, the cruised through much of the game switching flanks and probing expertly. Real hope that they can improve on near misses in 2006 and 2010.

Overall — With Holland have been the most impressive side. Mueller already on 3 goals and more will come. Amazing to think he is still only 24. Should be good for a semi spot at least but the defence must work on its positional play to avoid being caught with pace.

Others of note? England were decent against Italy. Good to see them attack and give it a go. You think their defence isn’t up to it at this level and that their young attack will need another 2 years to challenge though. Chile looked good in beating Australia. Can hope to upset Group B and give Spain a real challenge for the second spot especially in the wake of the Iberians being thumped by the Dutch. Belgium, much hyped, huffed and puffed to a win over Algeria. They aren’t in a strong group and should improve quickly. 

Shocks? Costa Rica beating Uruguay is the shock of the tournament so far. Uruguay, highly fancied, now face a real struggle to make the knock out stages. USA also beating the rated Ghanians was a surprise but the US always play with heart and spirit and this time, it was good enough. Surely Holland and Germany’s wins go down as a suprise but for the margin if not the result. Brazil failing to overcome Mexico ranks as a disappointment if not a real shock.

There you have it. A run down of the first set of games. Been fun thus far. Much more fun still to come. What do you think?

6World Cup 2014, FIFA, Football, Soccer, Brazil, Sports,

Late Nights, No Sleep — who cares? Its the World Cup!

Yes the build up hasn’t been great with strikes, riots and a bunch of unfinished stadiums. Perhaps Brazil needs to focus on other development rather than paying for two expensive showpieces in two years. However I can’t help but think that football is coming home for this World Cup.

Like with India and cricket, you are unlikely to find a more football crazy country than Brazil. Much will depend as it does with any host country, on how well their side does, but you can reasonably expect that the party levels will be set to ‘massive’ for much of this World Cup. If Brazil do well or go all the way, the meter will probably need to be reset.

For us in India this World Cup is going to be killer. Matches at 9.30pm., 1.30am and 3.30am means that most fans will be walking zombies in the day time for almost a month — god knows how offices will survive the drop off in productivity. Luckily the June-July period is a bit sleepy anyway with holidays and the monsoon. It better not rain between 9.30pm and 5.30am for a month. My Tata Sky signal won’t take it and I will be fuming at absurd hours in the morning.

I have closely followed every World Cup since 1982. My favourite to date is Mexico 86. A hastily organised World Cup after FIFA pulled the tournament out of Columbia, Mexico proved that great football is what a World Cup is all about. So as long as there is plenty of that on the pitch, I think the authorities and the fans will handle any shortcomings off them.

So who will win? Feels pretty open to me. My bet is Argentina. How long will Messi under-perform on the world stage? This maybe his last chance and I think he knows it. They have a strong side with plenty of attacking intent. If they can handle the pressure (the bottled it famously last time vs Germany and were hammered), they can go all the way.

Spain will be there or there abouts as they shoot for history. After back-to-back Euro titles, back-to-back World Cup’s could make this Spainsh side the greatest ever (Brazil 1970 would disagree). They have goal scoring issues for me, but if someone finds his striking boots, they will be hard to stop. So much quality there.

Germany and Italy are touted. I don’t think they will win it. Germany don’t defend as well as they should and don’t play well in the heat generally. I see their ageing back four as a problem after about an hour. They will be fluid up front but will that be enough? Italy may disappoint. Haven’t had a great run in and are in a tough group. Should they slip up early vs England they may be in real trouble.

And what about Brazil? They are favourites according to many. Can they hack the pressure? Their media and fans will demand nothing else but a win on home soil to finally erase the memories of 1950 but do they have the players? I don’t think so. This side is stop start and requires a piece of magic. Neymar can provide it but can he really do it every match? Plus any defence that relies on David Luiz has problems. The Confederations Cup Final vs Spain last year showed that Brazil can win it. It also showed in games vs Uruguay why they probably won’t.

Players? I reckon Suarez will light up this World Cup. Uruguay will do decently I think. Hope his knee is fine. Neymar should do well too. Proved last year he can handle the pressure and deliver the samba magic. Others to look out for? Sterling has a crucial role for England if they are to do well. He can unlock defences and has real pace. Ronaldo will continue to carry whatever Portuguese challenge there is and will Klose break Ronaldo’s all time World Cup goal scoring record? Man of the tournament for me will be Messi. Time for him to show us how good he really is.

So it all begins at 1.30am on Friday morning for us. Brazil vs Croatia. Lets hope the Selecao can roll out the samba and announce what I hope will be a terrific World Cup. In my opinion, good World Cup’s are a function of how well Brazil play. This one, in the home of the Maracana, will be even more so.

Vamos!

6World Cup, Brazil, Football, Soccer, FIFA, Messi, Neymar, Suarez,

My #WorldCup2014 guide has arrived. They are backing Spain.

6worldcup2014,

I have the greatest wife in the world. #StarWars Cufflinks. Love you @meghnapuri

6starwars,

Awesome Guardians of the Galaxy - Star Wars poster mashups!
ZoomInfo
Awesome Guardians of the Galaxy - Star Wars poster mashups!
ZoomInfo

Awesome Guardians of the Galaxy - Star Wars poster mashups!

6Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel, Disney, Movies, Comics,

Amazing video on what the next iOS iteration should have. Probably won’t. But should.

Source: parislemon

6Apple, iPhone, iOS, Technology, Mobile,

Ass kicking way to end a monster scrap! 

Source: markystardust

6Godzilla, MUTO, Films, Comics, Cartoons, Movies,

A Season to Remember

How Liverpool Got Their Groove Back
Before you can take stock of the season Liverpool have had, you have to rewind to the start of the 2012-13 season. A failed experiment with Roy Hodgson had forced Liverpool to finally remove the hated Hicks and Gillette under whom so much financial damage was done to the club. Under Hodgson, Liverpool had played some of the worst football in living memory. Even bringing back King Kenny and spending huge sums of money had not solved the League problem although we won a Cup and reached the FA Cup Final in a season and a half.

Liverpool went into the start of 2012-2013 with another new manager — Brendan Rodgers — who didn’t come with the sort of pedigree Liverpool fans are used to (neither did Hodgson mind you) so there was plenty of trepidation. We started badly and really never got going. It was only after the winter break that Liverpool found some form, played a more attacking brand of football and finally finished 7th in May 2013. Hardly an encouraging start in terms of results, as Liverpool and Rodgers struggled against the bigger sides and had plenty of away day blues.

Add to that, the summer of 2013 shenanigans of Suarez and his want-away, coupled with the club not doing great business — bringing in players that perhaps were well short of the recognition that makes for title challenges. No — at the start of the 2013-2014 season, most pundits, journalists and even Liverpool fans were not expecting the side that Rodgers built to finish any higher than fourth but common wisdom was we would finish between 5th and 6th.

Its against this backdrop — a side that finished 7th, was outspent in net terms by at least a factor of two by all our rivals (as high as three and four by our nearest title rivals) and had their main striker out banned for the first six games of the season — that Liverpool have finished second in the league and for the first time in the history of the Premier League have had a chance to win the title on the final day of the season.

Given this, its an amazing achievement. Yet even more amazing is that it could and probably should have been so much better. Three points clear at the top with three games to go, Liverpool needed just seven points to win the title. Agonisingly they got only four and were pipped at the post by Manchester City on the last day. A collapse? Maybe but when you put into perspective that up until that Chelsea defeat they had won every game of the second half of the season except one and were on an eleven game winning streak. Honestly, they had done brilliantly just to get into that position.

Rodgers’ style has brought Liverpool fans hope

A more assured team would have won it. Rodgers will know his side should have but with limited resources and a young team, he will have to accept that this time, they were quite good enough. He wasn’t either. His ‘cavelier’ football style that Liverpool have played has been well praised by fans and neutrals alike but whether that style will win trophies only time will tell.

However its easy to dwell on this and forget the season as a whole. Liverpool have so much to be proud of. So many young players have stepped up for them. Sterling, Henderson, Flanagan, Sturridge. All under 25. All British and all with room for improvement. The future is frightening. Sterling especially. Last season it looked like Liverpool were done with him after he lost form and had discipline issues. He has bounced back so hard that he is now a vital cog in the side and will be an integral part of England’s World Cup campaign. His pace and skill coupled with a hunger to learn marks him as one of England’s best talents. Can be world class. Really world class.

Sterling has it all to be World Class

Luis Suarez? Missed the first six games after being banned. Whined and wanted away over the summer. Was thwarted by Henry and Rodgers and most thought he would sulk. Result? Player of the year. Thirty-one goals. Best player in the world maybe. His partnership with Sturridge lit up the Premiership and they destroyed defences across the land. He will be a target for the big clubs this summer but has got what he wanted. Champions League football and now has a side to match his ambitions.

Player of the Year

Sturridge was a revelation. He ended last season brilliantly and started this season the same. Taking up the scoring burden when Suarez was injured, he scored twenty-four goals and now certainly will be England’s starting forward at the World Cup. More to come from him. Chelsea, who discarded him, will be kicking themselves after their striker problems.

England’s Number One

What about Mr. Liverpool — Captain Fantastic? Gerrard summed up the players feelings when he said he was ‘devasted’ on the last day of the season. Many think his best chance is gone. He knows, his best chance probably still lies ahead. He was magnificient in the second half of the season. Looked rusty and ill-at-ease in the first quarter when moved to a deeper, sweeping role. Flourished in the second half of the season when the cover and drive was provided by Henderson, who partnered the captain so well. Harsh on Gerrard that his slip allowed Ba to score. Will be remembered as a final turning point of the season. I chose to remember the good not that one blemish.

Still the heartbeat of the side

What memories these and all the other players have given us. Wins over United home and away where we blew them apart. Nine goals scored versus our hoodo team Spurs in two games. Five away, four more at home. A four goal rout of Everton in the Derby at Anfield. A 5-1 thumping of Arsenal when we were 4-0 up in 20 minutes. An amazing 3-2 win over Manchester City at Anfield which set up the prospect of lifting the title. Goals, goals, goals! One hundred and one of them. Fifty five between Sturridge and Suarez. Liverpool were the most improved side in the country and the most devastating. The fans haven’t seen days like this since the 80’s. My game of the season? The Spurs game at White Hart Lane. Liverpool were off some dodgy results. We had brought Sterling back into the side and when we trounced Tottenham playing such a flowing, attacking style, I really started to believe that this side was capable of inflicting plenty of damage to the big teams. We didn’t concede either. Best performance in years.

The flip side is poor defending. We conceded 59 in 38 games and that is terrible. System to blame? Perhaps. There will always be some defensive sacrifice when you play to score more than the opponents. However too many sloppy mistakes from personnel at the back and a lack of a real defensive leader cost us in the end. We were prone to collapsing at the back. We did against City and Norwich in the run in. It hurt most at Palace where we blew a three goal lead in eleven minutes. Rodgers will know, if his side is to challenge again, this cannot repeat.

This is a long way of saying we are back. Liverpool have long been a sleeping giant in England. The 90’s weren’t kind to the club and although we managed some wonderful things in the 2000’s, this new decade was barren and the club had seen real hope seep away. Rodgers has brought that hope back. Liverpool fans expect now. Anfield is the fortress it once was and teams are fearful of being beaten badly by us. Look the Arsenal game (first 20 minutes) and Manchester City in the first half. Both good sides (one the champions!), stood off us, defended deep, worried about getting stretched and got stuffed anyway.

The club has to build on this momentum. It won’t be easy. Champions League football next season means more games. Liverpool need a bigger squad. Its amazing we have achieved all this basically with 11-12 players. In this modern era, that is remarkable. Chelsea and City have top five sides on their bench every week. We will need strength in depth for more mid-week games to come. We must buy well. No buying potential. We have plenty of that in the youth side and the academy. Buy solid professionals who will make the side better from day one. Lalana is mentioned. He is a good addition if he comes but we need to prioritise the defense. Agger and Johnson need replacing and Toure and Sakho aren’t the real deal. Cissoko? Send him back.

I am sure Rodgers knows this. I am sure he has his plans in place. Its been such a bittersweet season for me and Liverpool that I can’t believe its over and am happy its done at the same time. I deserve a break. So does Brendan. Watch the World Cup and then get ready for pre-season, where players, manager and fans in unison can say — “We Go Again”.

YNWA.

6Liverpool FC, Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling, Rodgers, Football, Sport,

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream.

Classic.

(via girlwithalessonplan)

Source: theblackdahliapeque

6Alien, Signorny Weaver, Ridley Scott, Sci Fi, Movies,

Megatron. One bad ass villain.

Source: comicbookcovers

6Transformers, Megatron, 80's, Comics, Cartoon,

The lead up to the Death of Gwen Stacy. Originally Aunt May was meant to be the victim.

(via themarvelageofcomics)

Source: comicbookcovers

6Spiderman, Marvel, Comics, Trivia,

1985-86. What a season. So off the pace with a side in transition, we charged up the table with 10 wins in our last 11 games. Can’t forget Rush’s winner against Spurs and Kenny’s volley on the last day of the season against Chelsea. And to top it off, that cup final win, coming back from a goal down to settle scores with Everton. Had this kit as a kid. Now has come full circle. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
ZoomInfo
Camera
HTC _M8x
ISO
160
Aperture
f/2
Exposure
1/25th
Focal Length
3mm

1985-86. What a season. So off the pace with a side in transition, we charged up the table with 10 wins in our last 11 games. Can’t forget Rush’s winner against Spurs and Kenny’s volley on the last day of the season against Chelsea. And to top it off, that cup final win, coming back from a goal down to settle scores with Everton. Had this kit as a kid. Now has come full circle. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

6Liverpool, Liverpool Football Club, Sports, Football, 1985-86, Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish,

-