Guardians of the Galaxy


One of the best comic book based superhero movies. It is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but unlike the other 10 or so films that have come so far, it has no continuity elements in common with the “mainline” story. What makes this movie tick is that it is just fun. Not taking itself seriously too much, lots of gags and wise cracks, but not just a series of poor jokes. Fantastic, and if you can see it on an IMAX 3D screen do yourself a favour and watch it in large format.

This movie is what Star Wars could be if it was made today.


Eye of Siva

Germany – Brazil (7-1)


What a match! 4 goals in six minutes, 5 before the half-hour mark! Germany handed Brazil their worst defeat ever. With this match the following records got set:

  • Made themselves the top scoring team in the WC history (taking the top spot from Brazil) (223 vs. 221)
  • Equaled Brazil’s worst ever defeat (6:0, back in 1920, against Uruguay)
  • Achieved the biggest ever victory in WC semi-finals (last one was 6:1)
  • Made Klose the top scorer in WC history (taking over the top spot from Ronaldo)
  • Scored 4 goals in 6 minutes & 5 under 29. No team has ever done that in WC.
  • Scored as many goals as Brazil conceded in their previous 9 World Cup final games combined
  • Bestowed Brazil their first official defeat at home since 1975.
  • Became the team with most appearances in World Cup Finals at 8, after being tied with Brazil at 7.

And they could have scored more except that they decided to take it easy in the second half. Probably “resting” themselves ahead of the final. Not risking injuries, etc.

Five Germans on the score sheet: Muller, Klose, Khedira, Kroos and Schuller. The last two scoring twice each. A stoppage time goal by Oscar was the only thing Brazil got. Neuer was as good as ever in front of the goal keeping out about 4 shots at the start of the second half.

Muller now was five goals in this Cup and he got the same the last go around. 10 goals in 12 matches is probably the third fastest of all time. And he is young enough to be playing in another couple of tournaments. He should be having Klose’s 16 goal record in his sights soon.

The crowd started booing the home team towards the end, especially Fred who has been ineffectual throughout the tournament. Hulk showed some speed and skill, but he remains unable to finish. Substitutions (Ramires and Willian) showed some promise at the start of the second period, but with a five goal deficit that was just a bit of a show.

As a neutral this was a nice thrashing to watch after the way Brazil played against Colombia. That was one of the dirtiest games with Brazil playing in a very foul manner. They needed to be punished for that game, and this was sweet to watch from that perspective.


Weekend of round of 16


An underwhelming Brazil team beat Chile on penalties. Brazil showed brilliance during the first 20 minutes that also saw them go ahead. An equalizer in the 32nd minute showed that Chile was going to put up a fight. Through the late minutes of the first half and throughout the second, Chile was the better side. Pinilla’s strike hit the woodwork late in the second half that could have sealed their win. But they then started playing very defensive – playing for penalties effectively – only to lose 3-2. Jara had an unfortunate day out – first with the own goal (credited to Luiz, but off Jara’s leg) and then the missed fifth penalty shot. To be fair to Brazil the referee disallowed Hulk’s goal for a handball which looked like a wrong decision. It could have been 2-1 to Brazil at full time. An unconvincing win.

Colombia continued their fine run, and James Rodriguez is becoming a player of the calibre of Messi or Neymar. Two goals, the first a sublime one which caught everyone by surprise, takes his total to 5 for the 4 matches played. Uruguay missed el canibal and they just did not have any creativity up front. Colombia will take heart from Brazil’s uninspiring win & Neymar’s potential injury issues as they fancy their chances for the quarter final.

The Netherlands snatched a victory from Mexico. An early in the second half goal had the Mexicans ahead till the 88th minute but two goals in 3 minutes put the Dutch ahead. In the second period Mexico sat back and allowed the game to come to them. The Dutch attack was relentless led by Robben. Van Persie was out of sorts (probably due to the heat) and was replaced by Huntelaar. The equalizer was good, but Robben dived to set up the penalty in stoppage time. Huntelaar converted and the Dutch go forward. They will fancy their chances against Costa Rica in the next round.

Costa Rica won a well-deserved victory against Greece. They went a goal ahead (once again Brian Ruiz) but Greece snatched an equalizer in the dying moments against a 10-man Costa Rica side. The 10 against 11 battle went on through extra time and eventually went on to penalties. Costa Rica got all five of theirs to win 5-3. Neither of these two countries have ever got this far in the World Cup. So Netherlands may well feel that their progress to the next stage is pretty well assured. But Costa Rica have been the find of the tournament playing some excellent football throughout the tournament. Bound to be an interesting match though.


WW1 trigger


On this day, 100 years ago, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria was shot dead triggering the start of the first world war. Though the war had been looming for a while, Austria-Hungary took the opportunity of the assassination to start the war. The assassination itself was not particularly remarkable. In the course of the next month, though, Austria began provoking Serbia eventually leading to declaration of war exactly a month later. Read Wikipedia for more on the assassination and the war.


The Americans


By my count we have had 14 Matches between American sides and the rest of the world during the World Cup so far. The results are unambiguous: Americans lead 11-2 with one drawn match.

  • Chile, Colombia and Argentina have won both of their matches.
  • Brazil, Mexico Costa Rica, and Uruguay have won the one match they have played so far against non-American teams.
  • The United States has one win and one draw.
  • Only Ecuador and Honduras have lost.




Funniest moment of the Colombia – Ivory Coast match


Do I take the free kick from here?


Football strategies


Some hack posted this on facebook. Pretty much summarizes the game strategies for some of the major teams.



World Cup



Instead of creating multiple posts, I am going to do a running commentary here.

Weekend update (22 June)

Shorter comments. A few good matches over the weekend, and a few dull ones.

Italy – Costa Rica (0-1)

What a match! Costa Rica had a penalty denied minutes before half-time and then immediately proceeded to score to take the lead before the break. And then went on to defend it through a very tense second half. They did not sit back all the way and there was some good play here. This team is a revelation. With two wins (the other against Uruguay) they now stand TOP of the table. England go home as a result of this match.

Switzerland – France (2-5)

France hammered Switzerland in this match. Five different players scored as they went 5-0 up. A couple of late goals by the Swiss saved them complete destruction. But then came the final whistle. In between Benzema missed a penalty that could have taken the tally higher. Swiss defense like Swiss cheese was full of holes.

Honduras – Ecuador (1-2)

Argentina – Iran (1-0)

Iran played everyone in defense. But the Argentinian side still does not look like they are playing as a team. In the end it took a stoppage time strike by Messi to take them through.

Germany – Ghana (2-2)

Germany was behind 2-1 when Klose came on. Within two minutes he got the leveling goal. His 15th World Cup goal (equals Ronaldo’s record). A very close contest. Lots of open play. Enjoyable. From Germany’s point of view this was probably a missed chance to go clear to the top of the group.

Nigeria – Bosnia (1-0)

Belgium – Russia (1-0)

S Korea – Algeria (2-4)

USA – Portugal (2-2)

94 minutes and 20 seconds played (5th and final minute of stoppage time) when a Christiano Ronaldo cross found Varela’s head leading to the equalizer. USA played brilliantly well – attacking football, passing well. Both goals against them came off their own errors. The first in the sixth minute by a poor clearance inside the area, while the second was a poor pass by an otherwise strong Bradley in midfield. The draw means that all four teams in this group can mathematically still advance, though Germany and USA with four points apiece are the most likely to go through. Thanks to the poor goal difference Portugal will find it very difficult to progress.


Update 3 (19 June)

Colombia – Cote D’Ivoire (2-1)

Colombia won despite a fantastic Gervinho goal where he took the ball past some 5 defenders. Brilliant. Good fast paced game and the goals started to rain in the second half. For a second match in a row, Ivory Coast came alive really only after Drogba came on as a substitute. Drogba is a catalyst for his team to play better and he tends to draw away a couple of defenders allowing the rest of the team some space.

England – Uruguay (1-2)

Another disappointing England game. Only Rooney made an impact and he had one narrowly missed free kick and a header into the cross bar before he managed to score England’s only goal. At the other end it was Suarez all the way, with a couple of good “assists” by Gerard. Yay! Liverpool. Oh, wrong game! If England had to face a one man team of Suarez, they would have still lost. Complete defensive capitulation.

Japan – Greece (0-0)

Despite a Greek red card, Japan was unable to score.

Update 2 (18 June)

What a day! We got the first two eliminations. Here it goes

Australia – Netherlands (2-3)

The scoreline could have been the other way around. Australia were just brilliant and Tim Cahill produced what was the best goal of the tournament so far. A missed opportunity for them when the score was level at two apiece was followed by a goal at the other end leaving the Dutch ahead. One of the best matches of the tournament. Sad to see the Aussies leave the tournament. Cahill now has more World Cup Finals goals than Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney COMBINED.

Spain – Chile (0-2)

The other group B match saw Spain clobbered again. Tiki-taka went tuk-tuk. No grace in passing, no possession game, no game indeed. Chile had everything: attack, creativity and finishing. Thanks to Spain’s loss, both Spain and Australia get eliminated. Netherlands and Chile having won both their matches so far go through. Chile looked like they could go a long ways in the tournament.

Cameroon – Croatia (0-4)

Croatia looked as strong as they did on the day they played Brazil. That did not end too well, but with the Brazil-Mexico match ending in split points, the Croatia-Mexico will be a decider.

Update 1 (17 Jun matches)

Belgium – Algeria (2-1)

Yet another match where the team scoring first went on to lose the match. This seems to be a bit of a pattern here. Algeria played better than I thought and were the best African team of the tournament. Belgium was the stronger team in the second half, though it required substitutions for them to get into a real flow.

Russia – S. Korea (1-1)

No idea what happened.  Nothing for 67 minutes. Then Korea went ahead. Russia equalized a few minutes later. It all happened so fast (as it does if you watch a match on fast-forward mode!)

Brazil – Mexico (0-0)

For the second match in a row, Brazil could not get together enough as a team. They were the superior side especially in the second half. But their best finishes – and there were a few good strikes and headers – were stopped by the amazing Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa. The Mexicans played well together again, but their shots kept going above the cross bar as if we were back in South Africa 2010. The problem for Brazil was once again the ineffectiveness of their striker Fred. If he continues to flop around, Brazil are in serious trouble. Oscar was bottled up on the left side, but he switched right and went head to head with Layun. Neither of these two were as effective as they were in their first matches.


Original post (Matches of 16 Jun)

Germany – Portugal (4-0)

Was Portugal out of it or what? One would have expected a close contest and it was nothing like it. Germany was not playing to their potential, but they did not have to. They had no opposition whatsoever. Mario Gotze was ineffective but that too did not matter. Pepe head-butted Muller unnecessarily and got himself a red card for his efforts. That was with under 10 minutes left for half time. First half saw 3 goals, and the second half saw Germany passing the ball around aimlessly. In the end Muller ended up with a hat-trick and is now the lead goal scorer of the tournament so far.

Iran – Nigeria (0-0)

Only draw so far. Only goalless match so far.

Ghana – USA (1-2)

32 seconds. That is all it took for Dempsey to get one in. It took over 80 minutes for Ghana to equalize and then the US went ahead within minutes. The US appeared to use up all their skills and energies in the first five minutes. Afterwards they just defended wave after wave of Ghananian attacks. Defended well though.



First weekend of the World Cup


A brilliant start to the World Cup in Brazil so far. A goal fest, with goals scored in each game, no matches drawn, a couple of upsets, there has been something for everyone.


Brazil – Croatia (3-1)

Brazil clearly looked out of sorts, while Croatia looked like a real team. In the end the result went Brazil’s way, but that was with the aid of a questionable penalty awarded on Fred’s dive in the area. Neymar played well, but it was Oscar who was the best player on the pitch. The game also saw four goals – all struck by Brazillians, including an own goal by Marcelo. Own goals have been a feature of the finals so far with three in the first eleven games.

Mexico – Cameroon (1-0)

Two Mexican goals disallowed for off-side in terrible refereeing decisions. Mexico was clearly the superior side and deserved to win. They deserved to win 3-0. Dos Santos will have to wait for another match to open score in this tournament.

Spain – Netherlands (1-5)

The Spanish defeat was understandable. The starting eleven are clearly over the hill. With over 1400 caps between them (compared to under 700 for the Dutch), this was an elder’s team. Much like England in the last outing. The change from the 2010 final was stark: Spain had only four new faces, while the Dutch only retained three from that face-off. Span was no match for the Dutch in speed, creativity or anything else for that matter. With a poorly awarded penalty, Spain went ahead, but then were thrashed by the Dutch. For much of the second half it looked like Spain was just standing around while the Dutch ran around them. Van Persie’s first header will go down as one of the iconic moments of the game.

Chile – Australia (3-1)

Despite a Tim Cahill header that put the Australians ahead initially it was Chile who really dominated the match. Not that the Aussies were weak, they were just outplayed.

Colombia – Greece (3-0)

Greece was not in the game.

Uruguay – Costa Rica (1-3)

The only real upset of the tournament so far. You could count the Dutch spanking of Spain, but in that case it was the number of goals that was surprising, not the result. In this case the result was completely unexpected. Once again the favoured team did not play like a team, while the underdog played well together. Only here the result went in favour of the underdog.

England – Italy (1-2)

England played much better than I expected with a young squad. This was a much needed improvement and in hindsight they needed to take more risks. Rooney and Gerard were not as effective as senior players should be while Pirlo was brilliant on the Italian side. England need a mid-field playmaker. Gerard (with Lampard the last time around) is not good enough at this level. The England forward four (Rooney, Welbeck, Sterling and Sturridge) were really good. And Barkley when he came on as a sub was too. Still they need someone to feed them the ball. In the end the result was really close and it was an unfortunate loss for the better team.

Ivory Coast – Japan (2-1)

When Honda put Japan ahead it looked like the making of a great upset at the end of the first half. Drogba coming on as a substitute seemed to energise Ivory Coast and two goals in under two minutes ensured their win.

Switzerland – Ecuador (2-1)

Too often the team scoring first in this Cup tournament seem to go on to lose. Ecuador was up at half time, but the Swiss went on to win – with one goal coming in the third minute of stoppage time. Once again poor refereeing was in evidence as a Swiss goal was disallowed on off-side grounds, when the player was clearly on-side.

France – Honduras (3-0)

Benzema was everywhere in this game. First a penalty just before half time, then he struck the upright which got the goalie Valladares to push in an own goal, and a last one well struck coming off a set piece. Honduras have a reputation of playing a very aggressively physical game. They lived up to their reputation picking up a red card (leading to the penalty).

Argentina – Bosnia (2-1)

Despite being led by Lionel Messi up front, Argentina never appear to play as a team. That was in evidence in this match too. Bosnia played very well and it was just bad luck that they lost this one. Firstly they had an own goal off the feet of Kolasinac, who was just standing there when a deflected corner went off his shins into the goal. Later Messi managed to get away from his markers (at times he had three Bosnian players boxing him in) to get the lead doubled. A late goal from Ibisevic six minutes from full time did not close the gap. The favourite won, but the better team lost.

At the end of 11 games, this tournament has seen:

  • 37 goals in total
  • 21 out of 22 halves seeing goals
  • Each match having a result – no draws
  • Four players have scored twice each

Hard a starboard?


Is the Indian electorate swinging right? I mean this economically not from a social/political point of view.

In 2009, there was a swing in favour of the Congress-led UPA government. Within the many narratives as to why I think there were a particular couple of factors at play:

1. Economically, the Congress/UPA had delivered a strong 5-year growth track record. Yes, inflation had risen, but it hadn’t reached the levels of the next five years. Real incomes rose sharply. The Rupee was on the rise (except during the financial crisis period). India was truly shining. Fiscal deficits ceased being a worry. We had survived the crisis intact. Government shrank, free markets prospered.

2. Politically, a big event in 2008 was the signing of the nuclear deal with the US and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. This led to a break between the UPA and the Left parties. The Left withdrew support and the government would have fallen except for the support extended from the outside by the Samajwadi Party.

The 2009 victory though was attributed to the success of the social programmes of the Congress, most notably the rural employment guarantee programme. Other commentators (such as Swaminathan Aiyar) have noted that the Congress did not win more seats in rural areas in 2009, rather it was the urban/semi-urban swing that it won. (See for example this article where he says:”In 2009, Sonia’s sycophants claimed that MNREGA had won her the election. In fact she swept the cities while the poorest states most in need of MNREGA voted for Opposition parties.”)

The mis-attribution resulted in a sharp left-ward swing in the next few years: large and expanding fiscal deficits, subsidies and handouts. Rising inflation, three periods of ever larger currency depreciation reaching near crisis levels in 2013.

The voters had not delivered a socialist mandate. Thus the electorate revolted. And handed the mandate to the only right-wing (economically speaking) party available. That this party was also right-wing politically (nationalist) was probably not what swung the result. Mr Modi was wise to use the development agenda as the mood of the nation was to punish the left-wingers.

As an additional point in support of this, I will note that 2004 was the peak for the Left movement with 53 seats between the CPI and CPI(M). That fell to 20 in 2009 and 10 in the current general election. If that is not a rejection of the left, I don’t know what is.

P Chidambaram – who understood this – said in a recent interview that they misread the 2009 mandate:

“While we got the largest chunk of seats from prosperous parts of the country, from urban India, we did not read the signs,” the FM said. While he suggested a pro-growth strategy as opposed to a more pro-distributive one was the way the party should have gone after 2009, power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia disagreed, saying rural India had given the Congress an equally powerful mandate.
Chidambaram pointed out that while the India of old was a ‘petitioner’ society, the current India was an ‘aspirational’ one. India’s political parties, he said, failed to understand the changes that were taking place in the mood of the country in 2010 and 2011 and that the government failed to anticipate the extent of anger that was building up.

Of course, he said this on 29 April after he had decided not to contest this election. So he had not much to lose in speaking the truth.

One can only hope the message gets across clear to the new government. The country is ready for free markets. This is a generation that has grown into adulthood after the economy was opened up. We like competition, we like globalization, we are ready to be counted in the assembly of nations.

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