Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, October 27, 2005




By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam

Any of you watching the EPL game between Arsenal and Manchester City may have been able to view a little piece of history!

Arsenal's Gallic stars Thierry Henry and Robert Pires tried a cheeky routine made famous by the incomparable Johan Cryuff , at a league game in 1982. Upon receiving their second penalty kick of the match, Pires stepped up confidently having already converted one spot kick. But they shocked the capacity crowd by electing to pass the ball (yeah you read that right) to the onrushing Henry.

The idea was ingenious, the execution horrible. Pires ended up scuffing the ball and the referee rightly called an infringement for a double touch on the ball after scenes of pandemonium had broken out.

Anyways, first lets discuss the Champions League, which I haven't featured at all this season.

Club footballs premier competition kicked off in scintillating fashion this season with Chelsea, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Lyon amongst the earliest pacesetters.

Chelsea have looked very solid and are already the bookmakers favourites for the crown. Lyon have also exploded out of the blocks especially with playmaker Juninho Pernambucano pulling the strings in midfield. The Brazilian has been in outstanding form and it is a homage to the strength in depth of the Brazil team that Juninho cannot find his way into the team. Lyon opened with a three-nil thumping of Real Madrid and have not looked back since.

The record champions also have enjoyed a resurgence of late and aided by the mercurial Ronaldo and an inspired David Beckham have looked almost like the Real Madrid of old. Raul too is back to something like his form of old and Real also find themselves near the summit of the Premiera Liga.

Back to the Champions League, Arsenal have surprised many observers by continuing to win matches despite having a squad decimated with injuries and the loss of Patrick Vieira. They recorded good away wins at Sparta and Ajax, the former due to a stupendous double strike by Theirry Henry.

Bayern have also gone from strength to strength. Even with the cloud of Michael Ballack's contract negotiations hanging over them they played a very professional game to beat Juventus in their new state of the art Allianz Arena. The Old Lady of Turin had won every game upto that point and will therefore be eager for revenge in the return leg in early November.

Domestically, Juve still hold the lead in the Serie A after winning seven straight games and stand on the brink of equalling the record for the best start to a season that they themselves set nearly twenty years ago.

In the EPL Chelsea are a class all by themselves and look likely to be runaway champions considering the strength in depth and class and skill of their play. Arsenal look a pale shadow of themselves and Manchester United are in a transition phase. Liverpool in England look strangely out of ideas without a clear understanding of what they are supposed to do.

In the German Bundesliga, Bayern reclaimed the lead at the weekend with a 4-0 thumping of Duisburg but a slight concern will be the repeated inability of Roy Maakay to hit the target.

In the Spanish Primera Liga, Real Madrid sit atop the pile even though they lost 2-1 to Valenica at home in a match where Beckham and Gravesen were sent off and Zinedine Zidane put a penalty kick wide. However, Getafe and Osasuna are early pacesetters as well. With Ronaldo and Baptista out injured the onus is on the Real team to show what they are made of.

That's all for this week!!
See you next time!!
Be good! And best wishes for eid!!
(direct mails to zulquarnain.islam@gmail.com)


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