A slew of upsets this weekend, across Europe, has woken the football fan in me from lazy slumber. The year, probably the best year for football fans in recent times, had driven me from sense of luxury to a false sense of complacency. Just as the 2007-2008 league season ended, came the glitter of Euro 2008 where an underachieving team used its flair brand of soccer to come up trumps. Spain and football was the winner.
Shortly, for Indian fans, came the cheer of India winning the AFC Challenge Cup. A win, which came despite sluggish ground conditions, poor weather, determined opposition and pessimistic expectations. There were no excuses of key defenders injured, no hurling mud towards clubs officials – instead, when the playing conditions improved (Final at Delhi), India pumped in goals galore (4-1). Indian football was the winner.
Around the same time, while Chettri and Bhutia were plotting downfall of the opposition, the carnival started at Beijing. Third week of August saw the mother of all clashes where Argentina thrashed Brazil 3-0 in a game, which arguably, was an unfair score line. But who's to argue? Follow up to this match, Argentina had lost three key clashes to its sworn enemy (The last two Copa America finals and Confederations Cup 2005) and felt the scoreline was unfair in each of those occasions.
As a footnote, must mention, that you will always find the footballing God (in my books), Diego Armando Maradona, sitting in the stands of every important game his country plays, anywhere across the globe. Amongst all the big talking football legends, Diego is the only person who follows this practice.
Di Maria's winner against Nigeria helped the Albecietes defend their Olympic Gold. The tournament had an average of three goals per game. Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho hogged the headlines prior to this tournament in the eternal country versus club debate, and it was refreshing to see both players wanting and playing their hearts out for their respective countries. Olympic football was the winner at the end of it all.
Maradona's potential son-in-law, Sergio Kun Aguero starred in the tournament and it’s been believed that he will come out amongst La Liga stars of the year. Aguero's Athletico Madrid started their Liga campaign with a bang, and could be rated a start, at par with Chelsea's kickoff against Portsmouth, three weekends ago.
Big talking experts had come into prediction mode post the Blues thrashing Pompey, only for all to return to shells this weekend. Chelsea drew at home to a struggling Spurs; Manchester United lost to St Zenit St. Petersburg in the European Super Cup (Arshavin the tormentor, post his Euro 2008 exploits); Barcelona lost to newly promoted Numancia; Real Madrid continued their losing streak at the Riazor stadium (to Deportivo La Coruna), Inter Milan drew, Roma drew, AC Milan lost, Juventus drew and Bayern Munich have managed to win just one game in three.
This had to wake me up. Here's looking to an exciting and pulsating season ahead….
Avijit Das Patnaik.
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