Germany, Brazil setbacks have stirred FIFA World Cup 2018 into life, writes Bhaichung Bhutia

The world champions lost and the neutrals’ favourites were ‘Swiss-knifed.’ The World Cup came alive on Sunday but not in the manner most expected.

The way Mexico surprised Germany will be talked about long after the carnival ends in Russia. Being meticulous is a way of life for Germans and it influences how they run football.

They overhauled their programme after the disaster of Euro 2000 with Joachim Loew himself being an integral part of that change.

Their society becoming increasingly multi-cultural too influenced how they played football; it blended flair to discipline and made them an even more potent force in the sport.


PV Sindhu thinks Deepika Padukone is the perfect biopic fit

With all these biopics being made in Bollywood, was it possible that one wouldn’t be made on the first female Indian athlete to win an Olympic silver medal? Of course not. So, a film is in the pipeline, backed by actor-producer Sonu Sood, and badminton champ PV Sindhu is happy — also, she thinks that actor Deepika Padukone is the perfect fit for her role.

“I think Deepika Padukone would be great; she is a very good actor. But then, I think the makers would be the best people to decide whom to cast for the film,” says the 22-year-old athlete with a smile. She also says, “I’m definitely happy that this film is happening and [am] looking forward to watching it, like everyone else.”

Rafael Nadal: the ‘villain’ has become a hero in his own right

Sunday’s French Open final didn’t really tell us anything new about Rafael Nadal — it enhanced his reputation as the best clay court player in history, while making the honour roll at Roland Garros appear ridiculous considering that the Spaniard has now won the tournament 11 times in the last 14 years. But there was still something extraordinary, and new, about how Nadal added to his legend over the past fortnight in Paris.

As domineering champions grow older, there is a certain nostalgic fervour that accompanies each of their victories. At the same time, there is the clamour for a worthy challenger, a surprise winner who can start scripting his own success story, a usurper who will end the tyranny. At 32, Nadal is not yet in decline, but there was a sense over the last few seasons that his star was just starting to fade. There were some injuries, some upset defeats, and slowly a narrative was building that Nadal was on the verge of being knocked off the pedestal by the next generation.

T20 to Test transition the big challenge for Afghanistan’s spin trio

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai fired the opening salvo when he claimed his spinners were better than their Indian counterparts.

While there’s no doubt Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi have been excellent in the shortest format, their effectiveness with the red ball over five days is still to be tested.

The key difference between bowling in T20 and Tests is that the need to score quickly and paucity of time often leads to cheap dismissals in the former.

Barber snips Lionel Messi ‘headshot’ for fans ahead of FIFA World Cup 2018

Looking for a new haircut to celebrate the FIFA World Cup 2018 in style? A hairdresser is clipping ‘portraits’ of stars Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo onto the back of heads in soccer-made Serbia.

Mario Hvala gives his creativity free rein as he shaves and snips away on a headshot “hair tattoo” in his Novi Sad salon ahead of Thursday’s World Cup kick-off.

It all began nine years ago, he says, with a suggestion to a customer, “to do something different”.

That ended with a tarantula sculpted with a cut-throat razor into the hair on the back of the man’s head.

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