Akhil Goswami


Football fans from all over the world are buzzing as sport’s most popular event in the world, the FIFA World Cup 2014 is here. And yes, the very fact that it is going to be held in Brazil this time puts it on an even higher pedestal. As has been the case with every World Cup, a lot is expected not only from the tournament as a whole but also from certain individual teams. So it is no exception that 2014 should be any different, and here are the top five teams (in no specific order) that everyone will be dying to have a look at in this Football season.

1. Spain

A talented and creative side with a plethora of midfield options, Spain’s greatest strength however lies in their team chemistry and characteristic tiki-taka playing style. Vicente Del Bosque will be looking to add a second World Cup star to the Spanish jersey, and thus also becoming the first manager ever to win successive World Cups.

The analysis of the unique reinvented Spanish football philosophy ‘tiki-taka.’

However, many critics often cite the example of last year’s Confederations Cup, and thereby suggest that tiki-taka has been deciphered and Spanish era of football dominance is now on a decline. Therefore, it is the perfect opportunity for the defending champions to silence off their critics and regain their throne in world football.


Most football pundits term them as the dark horses of this World Cup. Belgium’s squad comprises of a great young bunch of talented players. The individual brilliance of these star players have been showcased at some of the greatest platforms offered in European football. They are however not considered as serious contenders to win the cup as the squad lacks composure and experience, and might find it difficult to adjust in the varied conditions of Latin America. Nevertheless, the pacy, swift and robust Belgian players are always a delight to watch.

The Belgium Football team 2014. Image Courtesy:

3. Brazil

Watching Brazil play in front of their home fans is an unparalleled joy which no football fan has ever experienced yet. Luiz Felipe Scolari has managed to rediscover the natural attacking thrust and free flowing footballing style that Brazil is remembered for, and the 5 time World Cup winners head into the competition as the favorites to win the tournament.  However, this Brazil side is relatively young and inexperienced, and it will be exciting to see whether they are able to live up to the massive expectations riding on their shoulders.

Brazil decimating the current World Champions (Spain) in the Confederation Cup, 2013.


No European team has ever managed to win the World Cup on Latin American soil. And if there is one team that is most likely to break the deadlock this year, it has to be on Joachim Loew’s side. Be it because of the squad’s perfect mix between experience and youth, or perhaps because of their organised style of build up play, or maybe even because of the individual quality inherent in this German side. Therefore, many people feel that it should be hardly surprising if the 3 time World Cup winners were to emerge as champions in Brazil.



Someone once said ‘Attack is always the best defense’. He was probably an Argentinean. Messi, Higuain, Aguero, Di Maria, Lavezzi, and Fernando Gago are only a few of the star names in the Argentinean team sheet. Coach Alejandro Sabello is going to have a really tough time choosing  his attack, and will also be hoping that his immensely gifted attacking squad will be able to make up for the defensive worries that plague his side. It is definitely expected that their matches are going to attract a large portion of the neutrals.

An array of Argentina’s amazing  attacks and some of the most memorable goals.


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The Wembley stadium, London witnessed a thrilling end to the Football Association Challenge Cup 2014 , commonly known as the FA Cup. The competition culminated  on Saturday, May 17th, as Arsenal came back from a two goal deficit to win their first trophy in nine years, courtesy the goals from Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and the in-form Welshmen Aaron Ramsey, whose contributions amounted to a final score of 3-2 against Hull City. The FA Cup final, which has produced some of the most stunning performances in the past, managed to produce another magical night for the gunners as they won themselves a record leveling FA cup in front of a jam-packed stadium of almost 90,000 fans.

The match kicked off in exciting fashion as Steve Bruce’s side took full advantage of a sleeping Arsenal defense and managed to get themselves ahead within the first 3 minutes of the match as James Chester deflected home a Tom Huddlestone volley. And if it wasn’t already bad enough for the gunners, the Hull skipper, Curtis Davies doubled the excitement of the Hull, faithful five minutes later with a close range shot which also managed to find the back of the net.

Aaron Ramsey celebrates Arsenal’s victory against Hull City in the FA Cup finals. Image Courtesy: International Business Times

A third goal might have put the game to bed and defender Alex Bruce came agonizingly close to doing just that as he threatened to convert a set-piece within the first few minutes of the game. Fortunately, Wenger’s men had woken up at just about the right time, and were slowly starting to show signs of a comeback. Their first signs of hope came through the foot of Santiago Cazorla as the Spaniard’s shot proved too good for Hull keeper Allen McGregor. The goal boosted the gunners, who from then on slowly found their feet and comfortably settled themselves into the game. Hull’s play also became nervy and reckless at times, which eventually culminated in the 71 minute equalizing goal by Laurent Koscielny who tapped home from close distance.

By the last quarter of the match, Hull players looked to be sufficiently running out of steam and Arsenal had their best attacking spell as they created a number of close chances to win the match. However, 90 minutes proved inadequate to decide on a winner and the match proceeded to extra time. A weary Hull side helped put on a great show, but once Aaron Ramsey scored in the 109th minute, the Tigers were in no condition to fight back. Overall, the spirit and character showed by both sides helped to put on a thrilling contest for the neutrals.

The applause and chants for both teams at the end of the game was a great display of appreciation which the Hull players will take with them at the end of a fairly good campaign. As for the champions of the night, the North Londoners have finally ended their trophy drought after nine long years, and will see this victory as a sign of better things to come their way in the near future.

The early days of the Indian Premier League (IPL), as many of us will remember was structured around the concept of city loyalties; it used to be a case of nurturing city allegiances, cultivating home grown talent and embellishing regional ‘Icon players’ in a whole new T-20 light. However, moving into the 7th edition of the IPL, a lot seems to have changed. The crowd that was initially sucked in this regional pull of the IPL now seems to be complaining about a lack of local flavour in their respective teams. Is their claim legitimate? Or, is the average enthusiast reading too much into the game?

For a few years now, there have been some gradual shifts and rearrangements amongst the team rosters. Constantly shifting bases, many people argue that most of the teams no longer support their own local players . Chennai has had the best score in this regard, as they continue to play all three local players; Murali Vijay, S Badrinath and R Ashwin, together on a regular basis. However, by todays standards, sporting 3 local players can be called a rarity. “Team captains are supposed to be the representatives of a team. Watching Virat Kohli represent Bangalore and Gautam Gambhir represent Kolkata really annoys me sometimes.” said one ardent Delhi Daredevils supporter.

Virat Kohli from RCB and Gautam Gambhir from KKR

And if these reactions were rather latent in these last few years, some recent developments definitely seem to be guiding this sense of alienation towards more vocal expressions of dissatisfaction. Due to clashing dates with the Lok Sabha elections, the 1st leg of IPL-7  had shifted its base to the United Arab Emirates. Talks of another leg in Bangladesh are also not completely off the mark. So, not only are the players not local, but now even the home ground is not really ‘home’ anymore. In such a context, how are the fans expected to have any sense of attachment to their teams.

A broad analysis of the BCCI policies (in the IPL) over the years would lead one to discover of its compromising shift from a position of promoting regional unity to one which now endorses global integration. This however, has exposed some serious double standards in their policies.In essence, what seems to be lacking amongst the committee members of the IPL is a broader and future oriented perspective on the whole issue. And since the whole topic of creating a more regional or global outlook is intricately linked with the former question of what exactly does the committee plan for IPL’s future, it seems to be abundantly clear that a solution to the former would naturally create an answer for the latter. Therefore, the need for a defining stand will not only help the committee develop a more clear perspective on matters, but also lead to many more bright prospects for the sake of the IPL as well as its followers.

The announcement of the UEFA Champions League draws of the Quarter-finals, which took place on Friday, 21st March, has brought to light a whole lot of discussion among footballing circles throughout the world. Arguably, the strongest remaining 8 teams in quite a few years, this season seems to be all but over with the Champions League matches getting more and more compelling as the knockout stages progress forward. And with the clashes of the Quarter-final fixtures finally revealed, the stage for another historic final seems to be no longer a distant dream.

The first quarter final clash involves Barcelona against their La Liga compatriots, Athletico Madrid. While Athletico Madrid may not be the favourites for this clash, their fantastic run of form in their domestic as well as European matches demonstrate that they will definitely not go down without a fight. Moreover, the 2nd leg of the competition is also at Vicente Calderon, thereby pushing the luck a little bit in Athletico’s favour. However, in order to beat this vicious Barcelona side, Athletico Madrid will definitely need to muster all the luck and support they can gather.

Another interesting fixture is the tie between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Chelsea, which not only offers a clash between contrasting styles of play, but also pits PSG’s lethal strike partnership directly against Chelsea’s rock solid defence. The English side look to be the more likely winners of the battle, but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic on PSG’s side, one can never be too sure!

Then there is Manchester United, who would consider themselves rather unfortunate as to be pitted against the favourites of the tournament, Bayern Munich. The German giants, whose hot run of form does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon, look to be spearheading their way into another Champions League final for a fourth consecutive year. However, despite Man United’s poor domestic run, their performances in Europe have been inspiring to say the least. While a German victory seems to be the more probable score-line, a repetition of the 1999 Champions League final will continue to haunt the Germans in the back of their mind.

Last but not least, Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund also promises to be a thrilling re-run oflast year’s semi-final encounter between the two sides. Both sides will have a lot to prove as they go head to head again, which will definitely be a joy to watch from a neutral perspective. While Borussia did manage to beat Jose Mourinho’s Los Blancos last year, Real Madrid’s front line (Bale, Benzema and C. Ronaldo) have never quite looked as threatening as they have now become.

The matches for the 1st leg are scheduled for the 1st/2nd of April, while the 2nd leg fixtures will take place on 8th and 9th April respectively. The long wait for Champions League to narrow down to top teams has eventually started to bear fruit and the question on who will be crowned as the most dominant side in Europe is finally starting to unravel.


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Moksha, the cultural festival of Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, recently hosted the international Romanian dance pop act Akcent, whose dance tracks brought an exciting end to the second day of the festival. The evening, which started off as a presumable No-show, culminated in what was probably one of the biggest ‘selfies’ of 2014.

With clusters of people flocking in and around the main arena, many Akcent fans were soon disappointed to hear the news of the Romanian singer’s late arrival. The evening however did not seem to wait on him, and soon burst into energy as another DJ took to the impatiently waiting crowd. Courtesy of DJ Monty, along with his collection of Bollywood and Bhangra numbers, Akcent suddenly did not seem to matter that much. However, the above statement could probably also be termed as a misjudgement. The hoots and whistles with which Akcent was later greeted on, definitely took the event to a whole another level.

The non-stop hoots, cheers, and roars were well received as the international DJ played to the requests of the students. The concert was also kept engaging and interactive as the Romanian sensation would often urge the crowd to complete the chorus for him. For some of his better known international hits such as That’s My Name, Stay With me, Kylie, the crowd would occasionally sing along with the DJ. The 1 hour riveting performance finally ended with what Akcent termed as ‘Delhi’s biggest selfie performance ever’.

This week proved to be the start of another disappointing season for English clubs, as two title contenders, Arsenal and Manchester City bid farewell to their hopes of Champions League glory. With Manchester United also down on a 2-0 aggregate to Olympiakos, and Chelsea’s performances looking rather unconvincing, recent debates amongst football pundits have questioned whether or not the EPL ‘deserves’ a fourth Champions League spot. So what seems to have prompted such a hasty proposition? Certainly, it seems the underwhelming performances of the English teams have not gone unnoticed.

Many ardent EPL supporters generally assert the above as false, basing their entire claims on Chelsea winning the Europa League last year, and the Champions League the year before. However, this article refers to English football in general. A period such as from 2005-08 can be seen as one replete with instances of English dominance, the apogee of the EPL era coming in 2008, where 3 out of the 4 Champions League semi-finalists were English. Not only have the English teams not managed to replicate such magnificent grandeur, but the chances of guaranteed quarter-final positions have also started to appear dim nowadays. (All English teams were ousted of the Champions league by the last 16 knock-out ties last year, while this year only Chelsea looks likely to make it to the quarter finals).

Many footballing circles now believe that the English teams are giving way for Spanish and German domination from now on. It is no lie that the English Premier League has gotten a lot more competitive than the years of the ‘Big 4’. However, no matter how competitive the English league gets, a case of German and Spanish giants easily overpowering their English counterparts gives way to a valid and rather valuable argument here. The most recent reflection of this can be seen in the clash between two of the top-dogs in European football, Manchester City and Barcelona, which resulted in a 4-1 aggregate in favour of Barcelona.

Though it is true that Arsenal and Manchester City have both been a part of the ‘Group of Death’ in recent years, and moreover Arsenal have had a streak of bad luck in successive seasons as they have faced Barcelona and Bayern Munich in arguably their strongest years, it still cannot be counted as ‘Bad Luck’ as it eventually boils down to their ability to beat all the sides in the league. Sloppiness on Arsenal’s part got them second on the group table this year, which need not have necessarily resulted in a draw against a top team like Bayern Munich.

An important and usually overlooked aspect of the under-performing English teams is the lack of a winter break in the EPL, which in the German Bundesliga and La Liga are crucial as the rested players are able to maintain top levels of football week-in and week-out. German and Spanish leagues are also relatively less competitive, therefore, the question of struggling to cope up with the variety of competitions hardly occur in these leagues. Apart from that, a lot of contingent factors also add up to the under-par English football. The English teams are internally going through a lot of transition. New managers with new footballing philosophies, under-performing and inconsistent players, injuries to key players etc. also inhibit the clubs from reaching the desired levels of performance.

However, this slump in English football seems to be temporary on the whole. While the same would have probably been said about the teams last year around, the probability of the English clubs to ultimately find their mojo seems to be the more likely scenario. This will probably be a gradual process which may also take some years. A look at the top sides of the EPL highlights how the teams are built and structured for future disbursements rather than immediate dividends. (The examples of Arsenal, Man C and Liverpool should suffice).Thus, this may be the emergence of a new phase of English dominance.The truth however at this point stands against them, and the English teams will have to push hard to show their mettle.

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The Delhi University Inter College Football Tournament, hosted at the Delhi Police Polo Ground and SRCC Football field between 20th Feb – 5th March, culminated in fine fashion for Motilal Nehru College (MLNC) Evening as an impressive 2-1 victory over runners-up Zakir Hussain College (ZHC) saw the defending champs retain their top spot in Delhi University. The most anticipated football tournament amongst DU’s footballing circles, the prestigious event this year included a total of 44 teams from all around Delhi University.

The match between the two finalists, started on a bright note as both teams approached the game with an attacking mind-set. MLNC’s (E) offensive build-ups and high pressing game soon gave them a deserved lead early on in the 8th Minute by a Sumit Rawat strike. However, the boys from Zakir Hussain responded well as they were also constantly putting Motilal’s defence under considerable pressure. Much to ZHC‘s dismay though, an 18th Minute equaliser by Nitesh Sharma was cancelled out by another goal from MLNC’s side, this time coming from the feet of Abhay Rana. An enthusiastic start to the finals, by the half hour mark,the match seemed to be very much in the balance.


By the beginning of the second half, the frantic burst of the game had seemed to consciously be slowed down, as both defences looked vulnerable to say the least. While possession seemed to be almost equal in both halves, MLNC in general seemed to be more controlled and organised in their play. A lot of this though, is credited to their manager, Mr. Sanjay Anand, whose constant shouting and yelling from the side-lines made sure players retained their positions and stuck to their formation. The energy again seemed to rise towards the last 10 minutes or so, as Zakir Hussain pressed harder for the ball and were involved in several gruesome challenges. A goal looked almost certain from ZHC after a 90th minute red card to MLNC player, Arvind, which reduced the defending champs to 10 men. Time, however, was not on Zakir Hussain College’s side as they lost the match 2-1.

This was also followed by another match. The two losing semi-finalists, Ram Lal Anand College and SRCC squared off in order to determine the third position. SRCC won the match by a comfortably cushioned victory.

Describing his feelings on successfully replicating their team success, Abhishek Rawat, Captain of Motilal Nehru College (E) said “I feel extremely overjoyed and proud at this point. We dedicate this win to all our supporters and the coach. Next year hopefully, we’ll make it three in a row.”

A 5-a-side open soccer tournament was recently organised by the Statistics department of Kirori Mal College (KMC), held between the 24th-25th of February at the college Football grounds. The event was sponsored by the Indian Football Foundation, a charity organisation founded and run by veteran footballer, Baichung Bhutia.

Having registered a total of 39 teams in it’s last edition, the event was only able to play host to 17 teams this year around. This particularly relates to the event’s inter-lapping with the Inter-College football tournament at SRCC, causing several teams to back out at the last minute. This temporary setback was not of much relevance though, as it gave many pass-out students a chance to participate in the event. Not only did these senior groups of students raise the bar for the tournament, but they also introduced a more mature and tactical approach to the game.

Quick, fast paced, and based on counter attacking football, the initial stages of the tournament witnessed a burst of goals from all of the teams managing to qualify. By the time of the semi-finals however, this initial thrust of goals had slowed down, as the two finalists, Bhushan FC and Ravens FC only managed a 1-0 and 2-1 win against their respective opponents. The finals of the tournament was also another low scoring affair, with both sides focusing more on not conceding goals. Despite a solid defensive display by Ravens FC, Bhushan FC managed to score twice as they went on to win the match by 2 goals to 1. They took home a cash prize of Rs 12000 along with a customized Barcelona Nike ball, while the runners up received a cash reward of Rs 5000.

While the fourth edition of the Joga Bonito may not have been able to replicate the magnitude and grandeur of the previous three tournaments, a case can certainly be made on the event managing to hold on to its very essence and spirit. Prabhat, one of the organisers of the event, calls the event a ‘goodwill building exercise’, as this experience of coordinating the event will only help them organise the future tournaments with much more understanding and confidence. Building on this, he believes this practical knowledge of hosting Joga Bonito will most certainly play a key role in next year’s tournament edition.

Football fans recently got together on the inaugural day at Mecca, as the Economics Department of the College organised an open Street-Soccer tournament. The 4-a-side football event was organised at the Ibtida lawns, which included 8 teams divided in 2 groups of 4. The matches, though only lasting 5 minutes each, entertained substantial crowds as teams progressed to knock out stages and beyond.

The matches were low scoring in general, with teams only conceding more than 2 goals on one occasion. However, despite the lack of goals, all the teams displayed a very attack minded approach to the game. The matches also stood witness to several rash tackles and challenges, however managing to keep a general fluidity to the game. By the time of the finals, a substantial number of onlookers had stopped to watch the match. Though only being a 1-0 victory, the mood of the match can best be highlighted by the fact that the supporters seemed to cheer and rant at every tackle and every shot.

The winners of the tournament, an all Hindu team, including Tushar Batra, Tajammul, Abhik Palit, Mrithunjay, Sahil Chunka, Lahm and Arjun Maharishi. They went away with a cash prize of Rs. 1500, while the runners up received a prize worth Rs. 1000.

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The Annual festival of Hindu College, Mecca started on 20th February. Deputy Commissioner of Police, S.P.S Tyagi, was invited as this year’s chief guest for the opening ceremony. The topic for this year’s festival is “Brilliant Bharat”, celebrating the cultural diversity ever present in Hindu as well as an emphasis on uniting these feelings of brotherhood.


The elaborate opening ceremony began with a traditional lamp-lighting ceremony. This was followed by a speech by the Principal of Hindu, Mr. Pradyuman Kumar, expressing his gratefulness to the assembled chief guests and addressing the occasion with his special trademark Ghazals. Mr. Tyagi, who had prepared a few words of his own, also talked about the festivities being a great success, and encouraged students to work hard towards realizing their dreams.


Following this formal commencement of Mecca, the cultural show kick-started with a semi-classical dance performance by the Indian Dance Society, Adrita. This cultural performance was a part-fusion performance, mixing elements of Indian classical routines to a relatively fast beat. This was followed by another enthralling performance, with Iskcon mustering heavy support as their Hare Krishna Mahamantra (Search for Happiness) were chanted and danced to by the engaged audiences.

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