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Champions League 2014 Final

At the outset, I was totally pessimistic on today’s final between Atletico Madrid (AM) and Real Madrid (RM) – simply because Real Madrid was a much superior team in terms of individual players, experience and style of play. This effectively meant that Atletico Madrid as the “weaker” team will play to a strategy that will be hardly entertaining. As I believe a weaker team will have to play defensive and a “negative” brand of football, relying on either counter-attacks, slice of luck or eventually the “lottery” system of penalties. This is the way I have seen football evolved over years and I had written the same in an earlier post (click on the link https://ayanmajumdar.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/the-evolution-from-a-laymans-eyes/ to read the same). But this is not the topic that I want to write on today. What I want to share with you are my thoughts on some defining moments of today’s game.

Firstly the gamble of playing an injured Diego Costa backfired on AM. Not just of being deprived of a prolific striker, but also consuming one of the important substitutions which will be costly specially if the game went into extra-time. And as destiny would have it, the match did went into the extra 30 minutes, thanks to a last-minute injury-time equaliser. Whether a star player who is injured should be brought into the playing XI is always debatable, but I personally believe this is worth a gamble. Because one chance or one flick resulting in a goal can be priceless plus the morale of the others rise tremendously when you have the star striker playing, when many people think he won’t.

Then came an ultra-defensive display of AM for next 30 minutes. Hardly the RM creative players got space – be it Ronaldo or Gareth Bale or anybody else – only exception was Di Maria who was threatening to break free through some skilful wing play. In the history of the game, there have been many instances when defensive-playing teams have pulled the result in the end … and they have done defending doggedly in their own half. However, what I found a difference between AM and other defensive teams of the past, AM forced the opponents to keep the ball in the mid-field and not just in front of their penalty box. This is indeed a credible strategy – as the pressure of soaking of attacks just in front of the penalty box is too high. Very often, the team’s succumb and one moment of brilliance of the opponents or one mistake of the defense can lead to disaster.

But the “mistake” came from RM – an almost trophy-loss mistake from the experienced Casillas. I still wondered what he was thinking ! The AM player Godin was getting an innocent center, there were 2 stoppers behind Godin, the ball was even not within the small box and on top of it Godin had his back towards the goal – so the most he can do is to head backward, which can never be powerful. But to my dismay, Casillas went ahead, was caught in the no-man’s land and that tame back-head was a goal !! Just reminded me of 1990 world cup when Zenga, the Italian goalkeeper, made a similar mistake against Argentina and that had resulted in the elimination of Italy when the world was thinking that Italy should be the champion!

Then was a continuous spell of dogged defending – very often by 8-9 players. By that time the pressure increased from RM and in spite of the defense, Di Maria was breaking the defense – however Ronaldo and Bale were often spectators. So, my thought was that either there will be a mistake or a blunder for RM to come back to the game, or it would be a victory of AM. My thoughts were almost coming true … almost …

Then came the equaliser in the 93rd minute of the game – just 2 minutes away from the end of the match. And I felt that there was a big mistake by AM in their defense. Yes, it was a great corner and a great header by Sergio Ramos, but what was the defense doing ? I will not blame why Ramos got the space to head without being challenged greatly (as that kind of movement and head flick can happen without much challenge).

I will blame the strategy of defending against a corner – normally you keep two defenders keeping the ends of the two posts with the goalkeeper in the middle. And the reason you keep those two defenders is to thwart out a perfect head or a perfect shot – which will beat a goalkeeper when the ball enters through the corner. To me, irrespective of the quality of the goalkeeper, there is that space having the width of a ball which an out-stretched goalkeeper will never reach – if you can place there, whether in a dead-ball situation or a penalty or a shot, the chances of getting a goal is 90% … and that is why you keep those two defenders to protect that precise situation. But here, there was no defender at all manning the posts – and so a perfect header from Ramos was beyond the AM goalkeeper Courtois to protect. Look at goal below for you to judge:

So, just 2 minutes away from the match, a drastic mistake aided by a perfect header … the match was equalised and the die was cast.

It was now just a matter of time when RM will tear apart AM – as not only they got rejuvenated by that life given when they were about to die, but equally AM players will feel the despair of being so near and yet so far. And now you have a  rejuvenated RM coming at a despairing more-mentally-tired AM with full venom for 30 minutes. So it was just one goal and the flood-gates will open … and it so did … the strike from Gareth Bale after a mesmerizing run by Di Maria – the match was over. Two more came in as a bonus.

So, at the end of the day, I felt the right team won and the right spirit of the game was upheld – a spirit of positive, entertaining football (instead of a negative defensive brand of soccer).

PS : I don’t know who was the Man of the Match – but my choice would be Di Maria as he alone threatened AM continuously and was definitely the architect of the Gareth Bale goal

Champions of Europe

 

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Economic Growth & Health

I have a strong conclusion that health conditions or even the awareness of good health practices are a direct function of economic prosperity of the individual. This has been arrived by looking at my family, my friends and their families around. Let me try to explain:

The principle rationale behind this conclusion is based on the fact that if I am not economically strong, how can I think anything beyond my basic survival strategy followed by some avenues for saving for a better future ? My life becomes circled on various transactions to reach this objective and to try to achieve this, I spend 14-16 hours a day with the rest 20% – 30% of the time spending in taking some rest in order to recharge myself for the next day survival.

Once I have some money in my bank and I think my basic standard of living has improved (which can be easily measured by the method of transportation now being mostly used, by the frequency of visits to restaurants and movie theaters, etc), then I automatically think of various other subjects that will tend to make my life longer and yet happier.

That is the time I hear on terms like “returns from equity much better than debt instruments”, impact of social marketing and social-commerce and of course, the various terminologies that pertains to the health barometer. I tend to know what HDL stands for, why triglyceride is not good for the long run, what are the parameters that normally come under a Lipid profile test, etc. By the way, I am not a doctor by profession, nor am I associated with the medical line; yet, there is a big knowledge investment on health parameters to allow me to even lecture to my friends on what food they should avoid if they have a high SGPT !

However, at the end of the day, do we, sometimes tend to think that “ignorance is bliss” when we can have two cream-cracker biscuits thinking of the moron who actually named this as a “cream cracker”  !! Who would have cared for this knowledge and deprive us of the niceties in life ?

Well, guys, if you feel the frustration similar to the above, let me tell you one thing – you definitely have gone up the economic prosperity value chain :-)

Definitely, I am an animal !

It is said that human beings after all are animals and hence possess qualities that are called commonly as “animal instincts”. However, one of the reason why these animal instincts are not displayed very often in public space is because human brains have an extra ‘layer’ of sanity, education, sense of ‘good vs bad’. But when circumstances push and push human beings to the limit of sanity, the strength of these animal instincts become so forceful that it overcomes all other senses and is then displayed in bouts of madness, extreme behaviour that defies common sense and understanding.

Therefore, whenever we see such incidents, we feel that is the limit of humanity and then we are on that grey corridor of uncertainty between an animal and a human being. This limit varies between person to person and probably gets dictated by the cumulated mental state of mind the individual has been for some months or years. Otherwise, how will you justify that in situations of mob violence, many ‘sane’ persons tend to lose themselves for that fraction of a second and actively participate in the act of insanity. Some gets triggered by the sense of frustration on the system and breaks down into a bout of extreme violence only for a couple of minutes. After that, you will very often find that person not only normal but also regretful with his insanity accompanied by self questioning of “how could I do that ?”

But today’s topic is not animal instinct – rather on the fact whether we ‘sane’ animals love to see acts of ‘animal instincts’ in play when human beings disintegrate amidst strong and pushy atmosphere ? If there are certain players doing this and we see a live (or rather edited) display of the mental disintegration on television, do we love to see that ?

I believe so ! Because that’s what reality shows like Big Boss (the Indian version of Big Brother) tends to do. We sit on a sofa, drinking tea, waiting for some explosive scenes to happen within a group of diversified individuals being mentally pushed to a limit. And if one episode ends without any quarrel or any clashes, we feel ‘bored’ and switch off the television. Basically, in the name of a contest, we human beings love to watch animal instincts being displayed by human beings, who in normal life are known to be well-behaved and dignified.

To trigger the most unpredictable behaviour amongst the people, the producers selects people who have varied upbringing experiences, who are mentally strong (and hence can be brittle as well) and put them in a ‘circus’ arena to bring out their ‘animal instincts’. We, the common people, sit around to see the circus and applaud loudly if someone screams or threatens to hit out others in scenes of extreme stress.

We sometimes are not so much interested to speculate on who will win this years contest, but we are definitely well-informed through the ‘trailers’ whether tomorrow’s episode has a quota of violent behaviour and hence, we make ‘time’ to watch the episode at any cost, in spite of tolerating the break in continuity through the numerous advertisements.

Definitely, I am an animal … are you ?

 

Of dictators and oppression ….

Very recently one of the leading newspapers screamed in its headlines “The Last Dictator is dead” and rightfully so as the world celebrated the death of Gaddafi amongst a turmoil burning in the streets of Libya. These incidents are often described as the win of the good over the evil and hence supported by most sane people over the world. I also fall amongst the same category – but this incident forced me to think a little beyond the apparent dictatorship and the oppression of the common people, who look for a decent and happy life with his / her loved ones.

Whenever we think of oppression, the obvious picture that haunts us a ruthless dictator stealing away fundamental rights, freedom and stalls the voice of dissent or difference in opinion with a strong hand, resulting in deaths without trials and extreme violation of basic human rights. However, if the same or similar incidents happen with a democratically elected body or a country’s government or even a philosophy followed by thousands, do we react in the similar manner ? Is it that actions against oppression happens only when we have certain individuals implementing those acts and not when groups or governments do the same ? Is it that military action is successfully carried out when the world tries to remove dictators like Hitler, Saddam Hussain, Gaddafi, but the same world remains not to carry out aggression against groups or governments carrying out similar acts ?

Let me ask some questions that come across my mind and leave to you to define whether this is oppression :

  • When freedom of speech is stopped by a certain sect of political philosophy and currently ruling big nations in the world, is this not oppression ?
  • When certain policies of democratically elected governments take away the daily livings of common people without much options given to them, is this not oppression ?
  • When certain foreign policies of powerful countries goes “all out” against some weak but strategical nations rich with natural resources, is this not oppression ?
  • When certain corporations neglect safety measures that lead to disasters which are termed as “accidents” resulting in death of hundreds of innocent people, is this not oppression ?
  • When corporate greed leads to unethical practices resulting in crisis across the world resulting in erosion of hard-earned money of commoners leading simple lives, is this not oppression ?
  • When deadly weapons of mass destruction are invented and stored by any country for the purpose of saying “just listen to me or you might be in trouble”, is this not oppression ?

The questions are too many and my mind says that the answer is quite simple and obvious.

If this is so, then where are the world forums and others going “all out” to finish off these kind of oppression ? Where are the tough talks from various leaders threatening of more actions including military actions to eliminate these elements ? Haven’t seen much so far and I doubt whether I will have the privilege of witnessing in my lifetime …

Last question before I end – why is that we don’t see ‘actions’ to eliminate these kinds of oppression ? Why is that we see only selective ‘actions’ when the evil is removed for the sake of the good ? Is it that behind these actions (and lack of actions), there are bigger motives of self-prosperity and economic dominance from the powers of the world ?

Well, nobody answers these questions and frankly speaking, I do not expect any explanations – while the world will wake up after few months or years to find many more dictators and eliminate them all for the good of the people ….

It’s yesterday, once more ..

It’s yesterday, once more ….
Not a Carpenters special
Another incident of terrorist attack
Another incident of loss of life
Another incident of tears from loved ones
It’s yesterday, once more …

It’s yesterday, once more …
Not a Carpenters special
We ‘spend’ billions in scams and corruption
We ‘spend’ several hours in passing the buck
We ‘spend’ efforts to take political mileage
It’s yesterday, once more …

It’s yesterday, once more …
Not a Carpenters special
Value of life is so ‘cheap’
Our expression of helplessness is so ‘cheap’
Our excuses are so ‘cheap’
It’s yesterday, once more …

It’s yesterday, once more …
Not a Carpenters special
We say ‘no’ to pointed questions on safety
We say ‘no’ to execution of proven terrorists
We say ‘no’ to a strong political will
It’s yesterday, once more …

The mighty cannot protect the common man
The mighty cannot assert himself in international forum on this issue
The mighty cannot have enough intelligence
The mighty cannot hit back if slapped
The mighty cannot act except making speeches
The mighty cannot learn from mistakes
The mighty cannot stop spending millions on entertainment to divert funds on security measures
The mighty cannot say “enough is enough”

The mighty can only say ‘It’s yesterday, once more …”

When will the day come to show your inner strength
When will the day come to act and stop talking
When will the day come to spend money where it’s absolutely needed
When will the day come to give exemplary punishment to the guilty
When will the day come to execute justice in months and not years
When will the day come for us to say “yes, we are free !”

When can we say – its not yesterday, its a new tomorrow !

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