Without Ronaldo and Zidane, can Real Madrid hold the fort this season?

With the start of the new season, Real Madrid find themselves in an unusual position due to the departure of the two most important individuals, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. What transpired over the transfer window was not unfathomable but it still leaves the club in a precarious situation with question marks over the team’s progress in the next season and beyond. To say that Real Madrid will not miss the absence of Ronaldo and Zidane within their ranks in the upcoming season would be like narrating a Banbury story of a cock and bull. Ronaldo’s unprecedented excellence coupled ...

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Pakistan, a champion of making footballs, but not the game itself

The Middle East, notably the UAE and Qatar, is not just sponsoring European football clubs; it is also inviting them to occasionally play friendly matches in their home grounds. This is not only to promote football in the region, but also to promote their heritage amongst football fans. China, the Asian giant, is investing heavily in their football league by buying expensive players from top leagues of the world for their local clubs. Similarly, India has just successfully organised an Under-17 (U-17) FIFA World Cup this year, and is also following in the footsteps of China to improve their league. ...

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New season, new players, new spirits: Will EPL clubs benefit from their summer transfers?

As the Premier League (EPL) finally returns (and my life has meaning again) there are major hopes and expectations placed upon a club’s new players. There have been record-breaking transfers this summer window and some interesting players have joined the English league. Here is a list of five (obvious and not-so-obvious) signings that could potentially change the fortunes of the clubs they have joined. Disclaimer: This list only includes players who have joined from other leagues. 1. Frederico Rodrigues (Fred): Amidst the lack of late signings and Jose Mourinho’s melt-down, we seem to have forgotten that early on Manchester United signed Brazilian midfielder ...

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PCB’s awakening: Out with the old and useless, in with the young and talented

The cricket fraternity has aptly labelled the Pakistan cricket team as ‘unpredictable’, but little does the world know that we can be equally surprising off the field as well. After all, it is ironic that a player nicknamed “professor” by the team will now earn less than or equal to the youngsters he was meant to be a guide for. Meanwhile, Ahmed Shehzad’s lifelong (pun intended) contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has finally been scrapped for good. Times are changing fast within the PCB, and players need to get accustomed to performance-based evaluations rather than banking on ...

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: If you think Wasim Akram should replace Najam Sethi, think again!

The verdict is out and the nation has spoken – Naya Pakistan is on its way, and the bandwagon of rejected politicians isn’t going to stop it. This ‘new’ Pakistan comes with a lot of new promises as well, but as the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Severe challenges lie ahead for Imran Khan, particularly the economy. Axing Najam Sethi from his job as the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), as the rumours suggest, would simply open up another wound that is unwarranted. Wasim Akram, the rumoured replacement, isn’t a weak candidate by any ...

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MS Dhoni – an era on his own

He came, he saw, he conquered. These words are the very least one can associate with Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his performance thus far in international cricket. By placing the ball behind the square through to the third man boundary for a single, he recently achieved the milestone of making 10,000 ODI runs. On July 14, 2018 at Lord’s, the home of cricket, he became only the 12th batsman in the history of ODI cricket to achieve this rare feat. MS Dhoni plays a shot during the second ODI against England at Lords in London on July ...

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Racism overshadowed Ozil in Germany, but at Arsenal, a season of magic awaits

In the summer of 2010, Mesut Ozil burst onto the scene of international football. Already making waves at Werder Bremen, the then 21-year-old playmaker became the fuel for the German machine. His creativity and pace went on to define German football for the next six years, with Ozil being a vital part of Germany’s 2014 World Cup winning squad. It was also that summer that my obsession began with Ozil. His creativity and pace defined German football but his relentlessness and commitment defined why I fell in love with the sport. The five-time German Player of the Year, who has earned ...

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What has Mickey Arthur done for Pakistan cricket?

The sight could not have been more vivid. Pakistan were reeling at 162-7 in their do-or-die Champions Trophy clash against Sri Lanka at Cardiff. The camera panned on Pakistan Head Coach Mickey Arthur, who was sitting on the balcony. Over the course of Pakistan’s run chase, he went from having a reasonably cheery smile on his face at 74-0, to gradually seeming worried, annoyed, disgusted, at times livid, and finally, sporting an expression of pure and utter disappointment on his face.   Overs later, when Pakistan had mounted an impressive comeback to win the game on the back of a ...

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#PakvsZim: When your haters are silent, you know you’ve made it!

Pakistan travelled to Bulawayo as the only ranked ODI team to not to have won an ODI this year, having lost all five they had played against New Zealand. Despite the slump in form, Pakistan were touted as overwhelming favourites to not only win but obliterate an inexperienced and depleted Zimbabwean unit. Having already missed out on qualifying for the World Cup by the narrowest of margins, Zimbabwe were already batting at all fronts before the first ball of the series was bowled. With Graeme Cremer, Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza refusing to take part in the ODI series, ...

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The fantastic Fakhar-e-Pakistan

Zimbabwe thought they had finally come up with their best plan against Pakistan. After the drubbing received in the first three ODIs, they had learnt it best to keep Fakhar Zaman off-strike. That was their Plan A. For the first 22 balls in the fourth ODI, Zaman stood at the non-striker’s end watching Imamul Haq try to find the middle of his bat. The weather was nice, with clear skies and just a hint of wind. Zaman seemed to have dozed off at the non-striker’s end, while Haq was busy building his turtle-paced innings. Everything was peaceful. Thus far, Plan ...

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