Iceland

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We went to a trip to Iceland in the summer of 2018. That trip is very possibly at #1 on my top trips taken ever. I can’t wait to go back again!

Here is the link to the photos from our trip.

I wanted to get a post in for posterity’s sake with all the information I collected and curated while planning this trip. Or to help someone plan their own trip.

If you search on the internet, there are hundreds of site on things to do in Iceland. My go-to site was I heart Reykjavik. The main person behind the blog, Auður, started off as a blogger on Iceland and in a few years turned it into a full fledged business. She has been offering thoughtful insights on the good, and bad, stuff about Iceland. The hidden gem you absolutely should visit or the tourist trap you must avoid.

The blog/business now has partnerships with various agencies in Iceland that offer the entire spectrum of activities in Iceland. The activities range from guided day trips to driving around the country for weeks, from watching the Northern Lights to trekking in an active volcano, and everything in between.

We decided that we will not do any self driving on this trip. A friend of mine actually drove around the whole country, Iceland Ring Road, for a week.

This is what we did.

We reached Reykajvik (KEF) early in the morning on Monday, on a direct Delta flight from MSP. Round trip prices were about $300 per person, which is a real steal! Flight time is about 6 hours. There’s a back story about our onward journey, see end*.

For our entire duration we were put up in an AirBnb apartment in west of Reykjavik we had booked months before our trip. It was wonderful! The location of the place, the condition, the neighbourhood (even had a Dominoes pizza across the street!) was perfect. A family lives there and it is only available for a few days a year. We just got lucky.

On Monday we took the private walking tour with I Heart Reykjavik. I liked it but at times Brinda was bored. They go through a lot of the history behind the city. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes, dressed for the weather (which could mean different things at different times of the day/day of the year!), carry a backpack with a water bottle, snacks, warm hat, gloves, change of clothes.

After the walking tour, we went on a whale watching tour. This was Brinda’s favourite part of the whole Iceland trip! I loved it as well. You get to cozy up in body hugging, warm wet-suits and watch whales. Success rate is pretty high. We saw dolphins and whale. There’s stuff to order and eat off on the boat.

On Tuesday, we went for the Snæfellsnes tour. The Snæfellsnes peninsula is almost a microcosm of Iceland, providing views of yellow (uncommon in Iceland) and black beaches, mountains, fjords, waterfalls, lava caves. This was my favourite part of the trip. Keep in mind this is a 13-hours day trip, with a lot of walking. Brinda was really tired by the end, but was she was a complete trooper for the whole day with great energy. We lucked out as our guide for the day was the best on our entire trip.

On Wednesday, we went on the Golden Circle tour, possibly the most well known attraction in Iceland. The Golden Circle consists of the Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, Gullfoss, and the Secret Lagoon (which isn’t a secret!) geothermal pool. This was possibly Vivian’s favourite part of the trip.

On Thursday we stayed in Reykjavik for the whole day. We went to one of the big public pool Vesturbæjarlaug and spent a couple of hours in the warm waters. You really have to experience it! Sitting in an open air pool when temperatures are 30 degrees Fahrenheit. In the evening we went to the downtown area to celebrate our wedding anniversary and had a sumptuous 3-course dinner, one of my best ever, at Nostra.

On Friday we went on the South Shore Minibus Adventure. Another gem with glaciers, volcanoes (even Eyjafjallajökull, the one that caused month long disruption to flights all over the world a couple of years ago), waterfalls, basalt rocks, beaches.

Saturday we took the flight back home.

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Things to keep in mind when visiting Iceland.

  • Be prepared for any kind of weather. We went in August, and had temperatures ranging from 37 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Everything is expensive in Iceland. A burger from a fast food joint could cost you $15 (USD) depending on where you are. It would be best if you planned for meal options – home made sandwiches, deli meat – or at least snacks, with you. For the most part we did not, and we probably would try to do it a little differently next time.
  • Sea food and lamb are the most common meal options
  • If you intend to do any kind of walking, get appropriate clothing. Outdoor walking pants, shoes, jackets. Woolen socks, warm hat, gloves.
  • Depending on the time of the year of your visit, you could have between 4 hours and 22 hours of sunlight in a day.
  • Icelandic people are generally friendly and almost everyone knows English. Talk freely to your guides and build rapport. They’ll have gems of wisdom.
  • Taxis are available readily in Reykjavik
  • Renting cars and going about on your schedule could be a great option. Keep in mind that rentals are expensive (when compared to the US), gas is expensive, and you’ll be driving around in country the size of Colorado, with a population of 300,000. Meaning, there will large swathes of region where you won’t see any living humans.
  • Get a mobile SIM from the airport when you land. For a family, you might consider at least 2 SIMS. Mobile, text, data all included packs.
  • Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. Try to have a card handy that does not charge international transaction fees. Bill in ISK (Icelandic Krona) and charge will be automatically converted to USD. When booking tours through I Heart Reykjavik, or any other sites for that matter, make sure you are using a card that does not charge international fees.
  • Public pools – You really must go and enjoy the numerous the geo-thermal pools in Iceland. Reykjavik has a lot of public ones. You still have to pay though. Keep in mind this, and this is extremely important – you, everyone, is expected to shower totally naked with soap, then put on swim suits, and then enter the pool. No exceptions!
  • Read up on as much as you can on I Heart Reykjavik. It is a treasure cove of information.
  • Enjoy and take in all the awe inspiring vistas, panoramas, and the incredible landscapes!

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*Back story

When 3 of us reached the airport on Sunday night to start our journey, Brinda and my passport self cleared. Vivian’s asked to see an agent. The agent looked at her passport and said, “You won’t be able to travel today.” Her passport expired the next month, and Iceland needs US passport holders to have at least 3 months validity. We made the executive decision that Brinda and I would fly out that night. Vivian spent the whole day on Monday in downtown Minneapolis getting an expedited passport and took the same flight Monday night, one day later. She missed out on the activities on Monday and Tuesday.

Categories: Demystify, Loves, Tip, We | Leave a comment

Love knows no boundaries

I had the one of the most interesting and heart warming, but also heart wrenching, conversation with the passenger sitting next to me on the flight back from ORD couple of weeks ago.

For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call my fellow passenger “John”. John is a 65-years old white Minnesotan who owns his company where he is the only employee. He works as a specialist mechanic going around the country, and sometimes internationally, fixing a certain kind of expensive machine used in steel plants.

John has two daughters, both around 40-years old. The mother of John’s daughters, his first wife, left him after 20 years of marriage. John grew up in St. Paul and currently lives on an acreage in Pine City.

On a work trip to visit a steel plant in Shanghai in 2011, John had renal failure. He had been seeing an endocrinologist here in Minnesota but they had not realized how the weather in Shanghai would exacerbated it. By chance, his endocrinologist is Chinese-American and once he was able to get hold of his doctor in Minnesota and let the doctors in Shanghai talk over his condition, he was in good hands. He remained the Shanghai hospital for 11 days.

During his time in the hospital John was assigned a personal care giver. Let’s call her “Jia”. Jia took care of John almost single-handedly. She cooked 3 meals for John everyday. After being released from hospital Jia was with John for a couple of more weeks, nursing him back to health. I suppose you know where this is going. Yes, they fell in love.

Jia is 50-years old. She grew up in a city (I couldn’t catch the name) 2 hours east of Shanghai. She had an arranged marriage when she was pretty young. Her first husband was abusive, what seemed in every sense of the word. They were divorced after a few years of marriage but not without some complications regarding paperwork that will affect the story in a bit. After her divorced she came back to her parents place, and with her sister, raised their little brother.

John and Jia had a court house wedding in Shanghai in 2013.

Jia knew almost no English and John knew almost no Chinese when they met. Even now they possibly know about 50 words in the other language. They video chat every day, where an app translates their spoken words in real time. They use an instant messaging app called WeChat, that translate written words, to keep in touch throughout the day.

John and Jia live apart. He lives in Minnesota and she in China but not for lack of trying. John’s medical conditions – and he has a few, including the renal one – won’t allow him to live in hot and humid climate for long. John goes to China twice a year. Since their wedding in 2013 they’ve been trying to get Jia over to the US. Unsuccessfully.

There are three things working against Jia. She doesn’t speak English, she doesn’t own property in China, and her divorce papers weren’t in order. John has attended three different interviews with Jia at USCIS in Shanghai. They have lawyers in both countries trying to wade through the legal quagmire. Earlier this year the issue about the divorce papers was settled. The fact that Jia doesn’t own property seems to have been put to rest, I’m not entirely sure how. The only thing is the lack of English speaking skills. I don’t know what the plan on that front.

I wish John and Jia the best of luck in their endearing journey to find love. Cheers!

 

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Miles and miles

I have traveled every week, for multiple days, since the start of the year. The table below shows my schedule.

Week starting Where Miles
7-Jan MSP-CLT-MSP 1,860
14-Jan MSP-CLT-MSP 1,860
21-Jan MSP-CDG-BOM-CCU 8,444
28-Jan CCU-BOM-CDG-MSP 8,444
4-Feb MSP-CLT-ORD-MSP 2,089
11-Feb MSP-CLT-MSP 1,860
18-Feb MSP-DFW-MSP 1,704
25-Feb MSP-CLT-MSP 1,860
28,121

Traveled this week too, but for one measly day, to Chicago and back.

Categories: Life | 1 Comment

Prominent nations not going to the 2018 World Cup

We’ll take a look at a few nations that will not take any part in the finals in Russia. I’ll start the list in ascending order of relevance.

4. USA

The US wouldn’t have made the list but for the fact that I live here now and follow the team. In global terms, the USMNT (that’s US Men’s National Team) hasn’t done anything in the last few editions to make them a relevant team. Costa Rica and Mexico from the CONCACAF division has done more. Costa Rica in 2014 topped their group of Uruguay, Italy, and England and then went on to lose to Netherlands in the quarters on penalties. With a current ranking of 24, the US laughably sits one spot above Los Ticos, while the latter will be making merry in Russia. The US came in 5th in the Hex, behind Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras, and didn’t even make the play-off.

The team going forward will be built around Christian Pulisic, the most technically gifted footballer the nation has produced. Ever.

3. The Netherlands

What a fall for the mighty Oranje, finalists from 2010 and destroyer of Spain in the first game in the last World Cup, with Van Persie’s “Flying Dutchman” goal. They couldn’t even make it to the play off round from their group, coming in third behind France and Sweden. My personal favourite team on the world stage, I’ll have to fall back on the Albiceleste to go all the way.

Robben, Sneijder, Van Persie et all had been carrying this team for far too long. The future will be looking to Memphis Depay.

2. Chile

Winner of the last two editions of Copa America, incidentally beating Argentina both times on penalties in the final, Chile will be the second most high profile nation to miss out on the quadrennial event. Boasting of households names such as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, and fielding a solid team, Chile was in a good position going into the last match-day of qualifications. They had to avoid losing to Brazil or hope Columbia beat Peru. Instead, Chile lost 0-3 and Peru drew 1-1. Peru and Chile ended up on the same points, with Peru ending on 5th place due to better goal difference. Peru went into the inter-continental play-off and Chile was left wondering. Also read about the fascinating back-story behind Peru and Chile’s campaign.

1. Italy

Italy missed out on a World Cup for the first time since 1958. That’s 60 years! Buffon will not get a chance to aim for a second World Cup trophy. Curious man management by Gian Piero Ventura, who’s being blasted as the worst gaffer ever, where he didn’t play red-hot Lorenzo Insigne in either of the two legged play-off with Sweden. Italy didn’t score a single goal in over 180 minutes of open play. After having finished second in their group behind Spain, they were handed a not too unfavourable draw against the Swedes but couldn’t muster up enough firepower, or willpower, to get to the finals.

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USC

I became a United States citizen on March 27, 2018.

The title of this post should not to be confused with University of Southern California. (United States Citizen – gettit?)

The journey started over 13 months ago and the final moment was bitter sweet.

The main reason why I delayed to get the US citizenship is it meant that I had to give up my Indian citizenship as India does not allow dual citizenship. The resolve to go for the USC happened sometime in the aftermath of the bloodbath of November 8th 2016. I knew I couldn’t be a silent spectator, sitting on the fence any more. I knew I had to get up and do something about actively joining the discourse of what was happening in this country. The first step to pursuing any of these lofty ideals is to get citizenship so that, first and foremost, I could vote in subsequent elections. Next would be to be involved in some grass root political activism.

The decision to give up the status of my Indian citizenship was hard. Emotionally I was reconciling to the fact that that I would not a part of the India anymore – the land of my ancestors, the country where I was born and spent the first 26 years of my life in. Though officially, not a whole lot would change. The only thing I cannot do now is vote in any Indian elections. Which I haven’t done since 2005. So that part was easy. Also with the OCI status it means that I have access to almost everything as an Indian citizen does. It was all the in the heart.

 

More pics here.


 

Here is a timeline of the whole process, in reverse chronological order:

Oath/Naturalization ceremony: Mar 27, ’18

Naturalization interview: Feb 27, ’18

Application for naturalization filed: Feb 27, ’17

Condition removed from Permanent Residency: Oct 11, ’11

Sent application to remove condition on Permanent Residency: Apr 26, ’11

Received Permanent Residency status: Jun 16, ’09

Sent application for Permanent Residency: Mar 13, ’09

Categories: Life | 2 Comments

Earnest: student loan consolidation

I consolidated a couple of outstanding student loans taken out during the MBA with Earnest.

Very positive experience and would encourage anyone who is thinking about refinancing, especially people such as me who are already working. The application process is a breeze, the interface is neat, and the decision comes soon. Let me know if you have questions in the comments section.

Disclosure: clicking on the link above and applying for a loan will give you $200 as a sign-up bonus and $200 to me as a referral bonus.

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Closing February 2018 off with a bang

Two things happened back to back to end February. Couple of monumental things, affecting my life, and the lives of my family members. Affecting not in a very directly, day-to-day way but with far-reaching implications.

First

Last Tuesday, February 27, I had the immigration interview that one needs to undergo to become a naturalized citizen of the US. I was recommended for approval. Meaning I’m on course to become an American citizen soon. A recap of the interview is posted below. The interview was sort of anticlimactic as in it went according to script, which is a good thing! I’m still not sure how to feel. Getting US citizenship will mean that I will have to relinquish Indian citizenship as India does not allow dual-citizenship.

Second

My first day of class in the MBA program was on 3rd Sep, 2014. Exactly 1,274 days later, on 28th Feb, 2018 I had my last class. The MBA is done. At least the coursework. Commencement, and getting the actual diploma, will be later in the year. Bittersweet feeling. On one hand, I will definitely not miss the countless hours spent doing homework, writing papers, poring over textbooks and slides, preparing for group and individual presentations, and, worst of all, studying for exams, especially, final exams. On the other hand, I will miss the intellectually stimulating classroom sessions. After a full work day, those are the times – between 5:45 pm and 9:05 pm – when I have really been the most attentive, my curiosity the most piqued. I cherish friendships made over the course of these years – most of these friends have graduated before I have!

Vivian is probably the person most happy, that I’m not away from home one or two nights in the week. I’m just relieved to have my week nights and weekends back where I don’t have to stay cooped up in the home office. I even had a drink of Scotch on two evenings this past week! The very thought would have been sacrilegious on a night in a school semester!

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Recap of the naturalization interview

Had my interview for naturalization on Feb 27, 2018 at the Minneapolis USCIS office.

Appointment time was set for noon. Vivian and I reached there at 11:30 am. After security and checking in, we sat down in the waiting area at about 11:40 am. At check-in, I was give a number and told that I was next in line but they couldn’t tell me when I would be called in. I went to the rest room and while I was coming back, they called my number through the PA system! I hurried into the waiting area, took the file from Vivian and went to the door where my interview officer was waiting. We shook hands and he led me down the hallway to his room. (a side note about the interviewing officer: he looked like a twin of the character Ron Swanson, from the TV show “Parks and Recreation”)

We entered the room and the officer asked me to remain standing to take the oath to answer all questions truthfully. I did. We sat down. He asked for my the Green Card and Driving Licence. I took both out and he laid them on the table. Then he started to go through all the fields in N-400, the application for naturalization that I had sent in a year ago. Really fast. Like, *really* fast. Name, DOB, address …..Then the questions for which you should answer No (“have you taken part in any genocide” variant), then the ones you should answer Yes (“do you promise to uphold the law” kind). When we were done with the N-400 he said that he won’t require any more documentation/proof and I could remove my file from the table. I put it in the empty chair next to me.

Then he asked me to read the sentence: We pay taxes to the government.
Asked me to write the sentence: We pay tax.

I’m not kidding.

Then the civic portion of the interview where, he reminded me, I need to get 6 out of 10 questions correct.
These are the questions, :
1. What is freedom of religion?
2. Name one state that share the border with Canada.
3. Which ocean lies to the East of the US?
4. What ages do you have to register for Selective Services?
5. When was the constitution adopted?
6. How many Senators are there?
He stopped and said that I got all 6 right.

The officer said we’re done. Asked me if I had any questions. I inquired about when the oath ceremony might be held and when can I expect to get the notification. He said I’ll get the notification between a week to a month. He had no idea when the oath ceremony would be scheduled. Made me sign a couple of times. Then gave me the N-652 that says “Congratulations! You have been recommended for approval”.

We walked out to the waiting area, shook hands and it was done. It was about noon. The whole thing took less than 15 mins.

Update: Today, Mar 7, 2018 got the notification that my oath ceremony date and time has been finalized and the notice sent out. I haven’t yet received the official notice.

Categories: Life, We | 1 Comment

2016-17 European football leagues – analysis

After skipping last year’s recap article – due to the Euros (very conveniently I take off in World Cup and Euro years, which essentially means that I publish posts like this every other year :D) – I’m back to dissect this mundane, yet topsy-turvy, season.

[all snapshots courtsey Goal.com]

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English Premier League – Chelsea won its 5th top flight league title, the first in five-year, at the beginning of May, with 3 games to spare. Scratch that. That was the line from 2 seasons ago. Chelsea won its 6th title, with 1 game to spare. After finishing 10th last season, Chelsea bounced back like a cat on a trampoline. 1st-10th-1st. That one game to spare turned out to be an awkward homage to John Terry’s last game in a Blues shirt. Spurs finished 2nd two years in a row, and managed to finish over Arsenal in 22 years. Arsenal was 5th, consigned to the Europa league next year. In fact, I have never witnessed Arsenal outside the top 4 in my 20 years of seriously watching and following European club competitions, that incidentally matched their longest top-4 finish. The saving grace for Arsenal was winning the FA Cup, beating Chelsea, who by the time the final rolled in were in warm beaches, at least their minds were. Leicester after the fairy tale run last year settle into 12th place not before scaring everyone with a potential relegation.

Harry Kane continued his fine form by topping the scoring charts for 2nd consecutive year. Lukaku flourished under Koeman with Everton. The rest are usual suspects.

My prediction for 2017-18

It’s hard to see both Arsenal and ManU not improving upon this season, though even harder to see how they can dislodge the teams above them. Wenger staying on at Arsenal could actually bode worse for the team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sacked if there is a spell of few losing games. He’s on thin ice, I think. Conte has won the league the last 4 times he has coached a club (Juve 3, Chelsea 1). Would be foolish to count them off. Liverpool under Klopp is coming together nicely, missing only a few pieces. Guardiola will be in his 2nd seasoan as coach of City. This campaign was the only time in his entire career that he hasn’t won the league as a coach.

My top 6 for next year: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal, Tottenham.

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German BundesligaThe German top flight has become a one-horse league. Munich won their 3rd 5th straight title, 2527th overall. Dortmund’s challenge has fallen off and no other team even thinks, let alone look, to fight for anything higher than the 2nd place spot. [copied pasted from the article 2 years ago]. Leipzig, newly promoted last year, finished a distant second. With Robben and Ribery not getting any younger, though you wouldn’t know that by watching the last 2 games of the season where Robben scored absolute scorchers; Mueller not playing up to his erstwhile golden standard; Lahm and Xabi Alonso (two of the behemoths of the game) retiring – it will be interesting to see how Ancelotti shapes up this Munich team. Dortmund has a young, pacy, exciting team. The strange thing was their coach Thomas Tuchel was sacked after Dortmund won the DFB Pokal (German Cup)!

Aubameyang and Lewandowski continue to score for fun and old warhorse Mario Gomez still is hunting. Incidentally Lewandowski was the leading scorer heading up to the final game day, where Aubameyang scored 2 goals and Lewandowski scored none, and later complained that he was very angry at his team mates by not giving him opportunities to score!

My predictions for 2017-18

Whoever takes the reigns up at Dortmund will inherit a technically talented team with young, speedy players. The US teenager Christian Pulisic has put in impressive performances for club and country and will only develop more. Munich will NOT finish lower than 2nd place. The rest are just guesses; not educated guesses, just guesses.

Top 4: Dortmund, Munich, Monchelgladbach, Werder Bremen

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Italian Serie AMuch like the Bundesliga, Juventus has turned the Serie A into something they own. The Bianconeri won their 46th title in row, 31st33rd overall, and they won the Scudetto with 41 game to spare [copied pasted from the article 2 years ago]. Even a slew of high profile departures such as Tevez, Vidal, Morata, Pogba has not prevented them from bossing around the league. Mandzukic and Khedira have reinvented themselves while the Argentinian duo of Dybala and Higuain have a tremendous chemistry in front of goal. BBC (Bonuci, Barzhagli, and Chielini) hold up fort at the back, with the very sprightly 40-year old Buffon in goal.  Roma and Napoli had a concerted challenge throughout but it was quite evident that they were jostling for the 2nd place. Atalanta was a surprise finishing as high as 4th, while both Milan and Inter failed to land any European action next season. Milan is so pathetic that it is embarrassing. Hopefully the new Chinese buyers will get on the path to restore a semblance of the old Milan of lore, whose sheen has been worn out by previous owner Silvio Berlusconi (yes, the disgraced ex-Prime Minister of Italy) and longtime GM, and godfather lookalike, Adriano Galliani. Totti ended his 25 year career with Roma.

Juventus though couldn’t attain the treble by losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid.

Edin Dzeko, formerly of Man City, was the surprise lead scorer and both he and his Roma team Mohammed Saleh (Chelsea) are having a great resurgence. The diminutive Dries Martens filled in the void left by Higuain at Napoli, with Calderon and Insigne picking up a fair amount of goals as well. Higuain’s move to Juve gave him the 4th place.

My predictions for 2017-18

Hard to predict against Juve. With Totti now retired, I think Roma will flourish more without having to fit in the 40-year old. Napoli should be in the mix as well. Milan will still flounder.

My top 6: Roma, Napoli, Juventus, Inter, Milan, Lazio

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Spanish La Liga – Real Madrid won their first league title after 5 years. Think about it for a moment. The richest club in the world, with all the Galacticos, could not win the league 5 years in a row. This was their longest streak since 1980. Barca gave them a tough fight till the end but their one extra loss in the whole campaign (4) compared to Madrid’s was the deciding factor. Messi’s superlative performance in the second El Classico was a performance for ages but ultimately that win could not make up for ground lost earlier in the season. Sevilla and Atletico had something resembling a challenge going on but those aspirations faded by April.

Messi with a tally (*mediocre* by his lofty standards!) of 37 goals was the Golden Boot winner in Europe. The big guns from Barca and Madrid filled up the top slots, though Neymar not featuring in the top 5 had some bearing on Barca not winning the league.

My predictions for 2017-18

Atletico will sell their best player (Griezeman), Madrid will add a couple of more Galacticos, Ronaldo and Messi will keep on scoring. The same, the same …

Top 4: Barca, Madrid, Atletico, Villareal

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French Ligue 1 – Monaco has got to be this year’s Leicester! The brand of fearless, attacking football played by their young squad, epitomized by Mbappe and led by the written-off Falcao, was a treat to watch. Unay Emery’s first year as coach of PSG can only be described as a failure, though there are reports that he will get another year. To be pipped by Monaco by 8 freaking points is nothing short of a catastrophe! And Monaco made it further in the Champion’s League as well.

Cavani continues his domination of the minows in Ligue 1 and needs a ton of scoring opportunities to actually score. Lacazette continues his impressive run and is bound to be snapped up by top clubs this year. Falcao has risen like a proverbial phoenix.

My predictions for 2017-18

With Monaco selling their prized assets (their and Atletico’s off season game plans are very similar) to bigger clubs, it will be hard to repeat this season’s triumph. PSG will reclaim their throne, and also continue to falter in Europe. Nice was the another surprise package this year; should not be repeated again.

Top 4: PSG, Lyon, Monaco, Marseille

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Big clubs, big decisions their way

After Barcelona’s incredible win against PSG with a few controversial calls going the victor’s way, and a couple of games this past weekend, where bigger clubs were awarded decisions which turned the games in their favour, I decided to write this post.

The 3 games I’m going to talk about here are: UCL Barca-PSG on Mar 8th, Serie A Milan-Juve on Mar 10, La Liga Real Madrid-Real Betis Mar 12.

Let me be clear on one thing. In all the three instances, the eventual winner was the clear favourite (before and during the game) to win. I am not for a moment suggesting that somehow the losers were “robbed” of a win. What I am suggesting is that the eventual winners could may have lost or tied the games had some very debatable decisions not gone their way.

Ok, so for the UCL game the 3 crucial calls the referee made mistakes, in my opinion, are the penalty call on Neymar (by Meunier), the penalty call on Suarez (by Marquinhos), and the non-penalty call on Di Maria (by Mascherano). Mascherano even openly admitted to his foul in post-match interviews.

The author at this URL has made lucid points on the all the 3 decisions I mention above.

There was one other non-call for a penalty that was made in the same game, and I believe that was the right call. This was a penalty call against Mascherano in Barca’s box when he slid in to stop in a cross from Draxler (#23). Even though the ball clearly strikes Mascherano’s hand, he was barely a foot or so away from Draxler when the shot was taken. There are 3 things to consider while making the decision to award a penalty based on a hand ball: 1. Intention, 2. Proximity for body from where the ball was kicked, 3. Unnatural positions of arms.

Now, to the Milan-Juventus game. In the 95th min, Milan’s De Sciglio stops Lichtsteiner’s (#26) cross while they are both inside Milan’s penalty box. There was no way De Sciglio could have avoided contact with the ball, he was barely a yard away when it was kicked at him!

And the third incident happened on in the Madrid-Betis match. Navas was waaayy off his line trying to clear the ball and he completely missed the ball and took out, I mean TOOK OUT, the Betis midfilder Darko Brasanac. It should have been a free kick (as it happened outside the box) to Betis  and a red card to Navas (last man, clear goal scoring opportunity). Neither was given.

 

Then, I read this report from La Liga, about Barcelona getting more penalties in La Liga than any other club.

A little more digging brought up these numbers from UCL:  Most penalties for, and most penalties against.

From the above 2 list of numbers I made the following list for most net penalties awarded to clubs in UCL.

You could very well argue that these biggest club play in the most games and they have the most gifted forwards so they get more penalties. That certainly can be a part of the answer, maybe not just the whole. Any one who has followed Champions League football over the years will remember how ManU, in their heydays, could be certain for the game to go on till they equalized or won. Same with Milan of the early 2000s. Barca, Madrid, Munich and Juventus in the recent few years.

Clubs Penalties For Penalties Against Difference (For – Against)
Barcelona 42 16 26
Real Madrid 38 20 18
Bayern Munich 35 22 13
Manchester United 24 11 13
Liverpool 10 2 8
Chelsea 19 12 7
Sevilla 8 1 7
FC Porto 18 12 6
Juventus 19 13 6
AC Milan 18 13 5
Internazionale 8 3 5
Borussia Dortmund 8 4 4
Manchester City 12 8 4
Arsenal 26 23 3
Atletico Madrid 8 5 3
AS Roma 10 9 1
Bayer Leverkusen 13 13 0
Celtic 9 9 0
Valencia 11 11 0
Olympique Lyonnais 10 13 -3
Shakhtar Donetsk 10 13 -3
Olympique Marseille 5 10 -5
Benfica 5 11 -6
Paris Saint-Germain 7 14 -7
AFC Ajax 4 13 -9
PSV Eindhoven 7 16 -9
Olympiakos 7 18 -11
Categories: Analysis, Loves | 1 Comment

10 years

I landed in the US for the first time on Jan 3rd, 2007, exactly a decade ago. Flew from Chennai to London to D.C, on British Airways. Donakaku picked me from from IAD and we went to his home in Richmond, VA. I stayed there for 4 days and landed in Minneapolis, MN on Jan 7th.

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Chennai International Airport, with my then roommates – Subhankar, Pari and Avik

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IAD parking lot with my uncle

 

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Outside Star’s school

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