I was conflicted about this post. I was unsure whether I should write it before the beginning of the Round of 16 or after. For the record, I couldn’t make a decision. The decision was made for me simply because I dallied too long. I feel there’s a life-lesson somewhere here – something to do with how you can’t sit on the fence too long about anything and how stagnation is essentially a form of regression.
But, who cares about all, right? There are more important things to consider, like Argentina and Spain’s exit! That’s three world champions already out of the World Cup since Germany didn’t make it past the group stage.
A World Cup Classic
It was being touted as one and it turned out to be one. This could have easily been a World Cup final, considering the pedigree of the teams involved. Who cares if neither of them were in form? Quality always tells. And how it did!
That first goal was… nothing special. What was special was the run that resulted in that penalty. Mbappe really turned on the afterburners in that run and distinctly reminded me of one Thierry Henry. He beat what, 4 players in that run? And all of it with such ease. By the way, the official highlights will not show you the run (goes to show how out of touch Sony is with football).
Argentina’s answer to that goal was another beauty. You can see how Di Maria set the ball up before carefully wrapping his foot around it. Everything from the placement of the shot to the curl was breath-taking. Argentina took the lead with the kind of goal that should be called “matka”, that’s a fluke in case you didn’t know.
And after that France really turned it on starting with Pavard (is that bun mazka? Pao and lard, perhaps?). Again the highlights don’t do justice to just how beautiful that goal was. Pavard’s technique was copy book in that shot. He was on top of the ball, he gave it just the right spin with the outside of the foot, and he placed it instead of smashing it. Then, it was Mbappe with his two goals announcing to the world that he is a star that delivers.
If Argentina’s exit was a shock, Spain’s was electrocution. They dominated Russia through and through in that game. Such was this domination that Spain ended the game with 9 shots on target to Russia’s 1, 79% possession, and more than 1100 passes to Russia’s 290. Does that show you how that game went?
It was Spain on the front foot in Russia’s final third for most of the game. Spain didn’t even score. They took the lead via an own goal. They had no cutting edge and why would they when Andres Iniesta was on the bench. I think Hierro is walking after this game. If he doesn’t then he’ll get the boot.
What does this result do? It sets up a potential France vs. Brazil semi-final for one. More interestingly, it sets up easier odds for England to reach the finals! They’ll be facing minnows all the way to the final. They’ve never had such an easy road to the final. But, traditionally, they’ve had a tendency to choke for all their potential and star power. I have a feeling they’ll do the same again this time, especially since I don’t rate Southgate much.
Today sees Brazil and Mexico and there’s potential for an upset there too. Mexico have been playing high octane football and Brazil’s possession game may just play right into Mexico’s hands.
Anywho, this is the ISL Blog not World Cup Blog, so let’s see what’s the latest there?
Habas the Henchman Returning?
We may again see a bald aggressive man scaring the bejesus out of his players from the side-lines in the coming season. Antonio Lopez Habas, or Habas the Henchman as I call him, maybe roped in by Jamshedpur FC. Habas spent two seasons in a row with ATK along with a stunted season with FC Pune City.
His time with FC Pune City was blemished by a run-in with the owners for what I can only assume was control over the team and strategies. For all I know, it involved financial issues as well. It has not been revealed by either party but at the end of it all Habas seemed very miffed.
The performances of his team weren’t great with Pune but his ATK squad did quite well. In 33 games, they only lost 9 times and won the ISL too. Habas favours defensive, physical style of football. I, personally, wasn’t a big fan of his footballing philosophy but even I have to admit that his teams are efficient and productive.
The “Nonsense” Cup May Not Waste Your Time Again
There is a chance that the Super Cup may not waste your time again as the AIFF may be planning to discontinue the “Nonsense” Cup (as per Steve Coppell). The supposed logic for the discontinuation is that the winners don’t get any rewards like a spot in continental tournaments. My question is this: didn’t they know this before they organised it?
In my opinion, the Super Cup was AIFF’s bid to make money. They saw the ISL vs. I-League arguments between the fans and decided to leverage it to make some money. It could have worked too but the ISL clubs decided that they didn’t value the “Nonsense” Trophy. Key players went missing and foreigners decided to not waste their time and spend it with their families instead.
Some tried to play up the cup as a way of ending the ISL vs. I-League argument once and for all, while others (like me) didn’t even watch one game of the tournament.
Jackichand Singh to FC Goa from Kerala Blasters FC
FC Goa has decided to take on Jackichand Singh from Kerala Blasters FC. It seems to me to be a signing that will work for both parties involved. At Goa, Jackichand may feel most at home because of their attacking brand of football. Goa, on the other hand, will benefit from his ball-carrying abilities on the wings.
I expect Lobera to encourage Jackichand to use his pace to instigate one-twos with other players and to a lesser extent even beat his markers on the dribble. It is possible that Jackichand Singh impressed Lobera when Kerala Blasters FC came visiting last season. In that game, Jackichand managed to score one and set one up from the right wing.
Seiminlen Doungel to Kerala Blasters FC from Northeast United FC
Kerala Blasters FC have decided to replace Jackichand Singh with Seiminlen Doungel from NorthEast United FC. He was one of few leading lights of the Highlanders’ last season. Doungel, to be fair, did have a decent season especially if you consider how poorly his team faired in virtually all statistics.
Playing 16 matches, Doungel managed to get 4 goals and 1 assist. The real value of Doungel, however, is his versatility. While he plays best as a right winger, he can put in a good shift in multiple other positions.
Doungel does almost as well as a left winger and is sufficiently accomplished as a striker. He can also play as a support or shadow striker just behind the main man and as an attacking midfielder. Once, Doungel even played as a defensive midfielder although I don’t expect to see that ever again.
And that is all for today’s post. There should be another post sometime later this week. But, if a lot happens from the perspective of the Indian Super League, I’ll write one earlier. For now, let me reiterate my earlier request. It means a lot when one of you responds to my posts. It is an encouragement that only can give. On that note, thanks Piyush!