First Whistle – March 2012
The onset of Spring brings with it rebirth, renewal and regrowth. And so is Goalden Times reinventing itself while keeping pace with the winds of change. Well, the Armani’s, Dior’s and Saint Laurent’s may not be around to drape us with a new look, but we can redesign our outfit, alright. Hope you like our brand new attire! And don’t mind us being fashionably late…
In other news, the Ides of March brought evil tidings for clubs from England. Widely acknowledged as the most competitive league in Europe, the Premier League suffered one reverse after another, the worst being Athletic Bilbao sweeping aside the English champions Manchester United through some exceptional football. It would have lost its entire stock of clubs in Europe, but for a miraculous comeback by Chelsea in a pulsating thriller with Napoli. Having fired their manager, the old hands of Chelsea turned the clock back to produce vital performances. Elsewhere, it was a celebration of Michel Platini’s efforts to empower the clubs from outside the traditional powerhouse leagues. Apoel FC from Nicosia is a poster boy for this, reaching the Champions League quarter-finals where they will be up against the might of Real Madrid. Traditional giants AC Milan and Bayern Munich also made their presence felt. Mario Gomez was no match for Lionel Messi who slammed, slalomed, crashed, walloped and blazed five past Bayer Leverkusen. Milan against Barcelona would be the tie of the quarter-finals but having faced each other in group stages, many would have argued that UEFA needs to relook at the system.
Domestically, most leagues threw up two-horse races. Milan leads Juventus in Serie A, the Manchester clubs are separated by one point in Premier League, Borussia Dortmund have advantage over Bayern Munich in Bundesliga, Paris Saint-Germain have a slender lead over Montpellier and Porto lead over Benfica in Primeira Liga. In La Liga though, Real Madrid’s eight point lead over Barcelona seems to have already ensured another league win for Jose Mourinho.
Juventus remained the only club among the big leagues to remain unbeaten across all competitions, though having drawn more than they have won, their title hopes are dependent on Milan suffering reverses. One such ‘reverse’ for Milan was when this happened in the title clash with Juventus, leading to increasing calls for goal-line technology.
Liverpool managed to grab their first trophy in six years, winning the League Cup beating Cardiff City in tiebreaker, thus ensuring their participation in European competitions after a year’s absence.
On the other side of the globe, in India, the fourth oldest cup competition in the world (started in 1893), the IFA Shield was won by local giants East Bengal. The win is memorable for it came in the centenary year of the first ever win of the Shield by an Indian team – ironically, East Bengal’s archrivals, Mohun Bagan.
With the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, and various domestic tussles in Europe, the next four weeks look promising. We shall be around to bring you all the riveting updates.
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