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  1. Cersei Lannister's famous dialogue, “when you enter the game of thrones, you either win or you die” rings a bell now more than ever. As we settled down to sit through the viewing of the premiere episode of the final season of a global phenomenon called the 'Game of Thrones', years worth of journey with the main cast relayed before our eyes. © HBO Death and gore happen to be one of the dominant themes in the series, wherein people have been burnt alive, skinned to death, their heads crushed, stabbed in the eye and what not. While the body count at the beginning of the show rested at 26, it has undergone tremendous dips and rises over the last 8 years of its existence with the body count rising to a whopping 58 in season 6 following the destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor by wildfire. © HBO So talking of death, we couldn't let go of the nagging feeling that death is indeed waiting to rear its ugly head even in the final season of 'GoT', and just like millions of fans across the world, we would not help but wonder which of our favourite character might end up dead in season 8. © HBO While speculations and memes have already started to fill the internet, we decided to do some digging and got our hands on this survey conducted by Morning Consult, who asked die-hard 'GoT' fans to vote for the character who is most likely to die in the final season of 'Game of Thrones' which premiered earlier today. View this post on Instagram April: the month that kills your favorite charactersâ #gameofthrones #avengers #endgame #9gag A post shared by 9GAG: Go Fun The World (@9gag) on Apr 15, 2019 at 12:00am PDT Now, while that is just a speculation, the survey has shown that, fans believe these 5 characters from the series are mostly likely to die by the end of season 8. *Insert Drumroll* 1. Cersei Lannister © HBO 36 percent of fans believe that Cersei, the cunning and extremely ambitious Queen Mother of the realm of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros will bite the dust this season. Known for her haughty, conniving persona, she is above the feelings of empathy, and bears a tongue laced with poison. Her betrayal of Daenerys and Jon was in keeping with her true nature. How many of you want her dead? 2. Night King © HBO Next up, almost 34 percent of fans feel the Night King will be dead by the end of this season. The supreme master and the first of the White Walkers is all set to lay siege to Winterfell, armed with a terrifying army of White Walkers, wights and an undead Dragon. Will he succeed? Or will he die trying? 3. Euron Greyjoy © HBO Currently the King of the Iron Islands, and uncle to Theon and Yara Greyjoy, Euron is cunning, highly intelligent, barbarous and dangerous in a number of ways. Having a reputation as the worst of all the Greyjoys, Euron fights on Cersei's side and 32 percent fans want him to be the one saying goodbye this season. 4. Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane © HBO With 31 percent fans voting for Sandor in the survey, this original House Lannister ally might just be the one. While fans are also anticipating that the final season will see him kill off his brother Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, we will have to wait and see how that unravels. Having shifted his allegiance over the years, we're still not too sure about believing him even now. 5. Theon Greyjoy © HBO Having grown up with the Stark children like a brother, he is also the prince of the Iron Islands. Theon has been on a quest to save his sister, Yara from the clutches of Euron Greyjoy, their uncle. 30 percent believe that Theon might be the one to warm the grave before the curtains fall this season. That is not all, fans have also voted for 20 other characters from the show, who might end up dead instead of the top 5 listed above. Take a look at the stats here: © HBO Who do you think will be dead this season?
  2. Before you start reading about one of the most important symbols in 'Game of Thrones', this is your last chance to turn away as there will be spoilers ahead. If you've already seen the previous seasons of 'Game Of Thrones' and the premiere of the final season, carry on reading. We don't know much about the White Walkers, their origin and the Night King's intentions; however, we've seen the dead army's stamp time and time again. It's called the “Death Swirl” and we got to see it again in the first episode of Season 8. It is probably the scariest swirl we've seen yet as it consists of limbs and Ned Umber bang in the centre. The swirl gets discovered by Edd, Beric and Tormund and we get to know more what it may mean. Beric tells us that it may just be a message from the Night King. But before Beric could tell us more about the swirl, Ned Umber comes back to life and interrupts Beric's explanation. We all know that the Night King was created by the Children of the Forest thanks to the Three-Eyed Raven's visions of the past. The swirl was created by the Children of The Forest as confirmed by David Benioff in an interview. © HBO "There are certain symbols and patterns that recur throughout the show. The first time we saw that was in one of the very first scenes in the pilot when Will the ranger sees the Wildling body parts in an odd pattern displayed by the White Walkers. We see it again north of the Wall with the dead horses displayed in a spiral pattern, and then you see it again here and learn where these patterns come from, that they're ancient symbols of the Children of the Forest used in their rituals, and the Children of the Forest created the White Walkers,” said Benioff. From what we can gather, the pattern is symbolic to The Children of the Forest and the message the Night King is trying to send is that he remembers, he knows his purpose and he won't stop until he achieves it. The Night King's intentions and purposes are still shrouded in mystery so we will know for sure when it's revealed. This is not the first time we've seen the swirl as the symbol has made an appearance in various scenes before. We see the symbol for the very first time in the very first episode of Season 1. It was made up of wildling bodies and limbs that were arranged in the pattern of the Death Swirl. © HBO The next time we see the swirl is in the third episode of season three when Jon revisits “Fist of the First Men”. His fellow Night's Watchmen were murdered by the white walkers and their horses were mutilated to form the pattern of the symbol. The horse's heads were arranged in a spiral giving us a confirmation that this symbol plays some form of significance in the Night King's story arc. The last time we saw the Death Swirl before Season 8's premiere was in Dragonstone and was discovered by Jon Snow. It was discovered when Jon was mining for Dragonglass under the forgotten outpost. This discovery is probably the most crucial hint towards the symbol's significance as murals on the walls of the cave depict the Children of The Forest working together with the First Men at the first battle of the Long Night. They were the first to defeat the White Walkers and the death swirl is carved in the cave paintings with much significance. The prominence of the swirl painting on the walls is a major hint that it played a vital role even during the first Long Night. The death swirl according to some theories has to do with some form of magic and maybe some kind of a reminder about how the White Walkers were created. Other theories suggest that the symbol has something to with the weather. The further south these symbols are created, the further winter would envelop these lands. Other theories suggest that it may hold the secret of defeating the Night King. © HBO The Night King was created by the Children of The Forest by piercing a man's chest with Dragonglass. Dragonglass is one of the materials that can also destroy white walkers. If this swirl played a role in the creation of the Night King, just like Dragonglass, it may just also hold the secrets of defeating the Night King. We can't entirely be sure what the Death Swirl means until it is finally revealed in the final season but we can be certain that it plays a crucial role. It may be related to the Night King's ultimate fate or it may just be bigger than that altogether. Remember, George RR Martin has already said in past interviews that the ending to the series will be bittersweet. It's best we forget the traditional “Good Vs. Evil” concept and start preparing for some major shock in the final season of 'Game of Thrones'.
  3. Game Of Throne's final season is just around the corner and I bet every 'GoT' fan is sitting at the edge of their seats, wondering what to expect for the next one month. In India alone, people are throwing 'Game of Thrones' theme parties, doing season re-runs and taking one quiz after the other to catch up with whatever they've missed out on, so they're in tune with the latest episodes. It's phenomenal really, how the most watched show on earth has put people together in such an awesome way. HBO Just recently, Instagram came up with some interesting data concerning Indian 'Game Of Thrones' fans and we believe it to be absolutely true and alarming at the same time. The data was gathered by Instagram depending on the relevant GoT conversations happening on the platform since the last 30 days and a lot of information regarding fan theories and watching habits were revealed. HBO In the data summation, it was gathered that India ranks fourth when it comes to discussing 'Game Of Thrones' on Intagram, and of course it was the fourth country across the globe which is most excited for the final season! The number one to be most excited about GoT is USA, then Brazil, Great Britain, India and then Germany. Which means, Indians on Instagram do interact about what they're looking forward to the most or about probable theories that could come to light in the final season. The level of attraction where GoT is concerned is a lot higher than any other topic on Instagram, according to the data. HBO The influence of GoT across all channels is so prominent that even dating apps like OkCupid have a relevant GoT feature on their app. They have made it possible for daters to date each other according to their favourite TV show and since GoT ranks the charts, users have been allotted GoT badges to help them find their perfect match based on the favourite GoT character or kingdom. I think that's fairly innovative and a great conversation starter to say the least! HBO Another fascinating data search found that many Indians also have favourite characters and are looking forward to their screen time in season eight. The most talked about GoT characters on Indian Instagram are Jon Snow, ranking number 1, followed by Daenerys Targaryen, Aarya Stark, Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister. So three Straks, two Targaryen's and one Lannister, who probably is a Targaryen according a popular fan theory, is who people want to watch in season 8! Not bad if I must say so myself. The nominated characters on Instagram actually all have a wise fan theory behind them, that's why their demand to see them again is most talked about. Well, most people just want to see what happens between Dany and Jon next TBH! HBO So, in case you're a GoT fan and you have participated on Instagram discussing the show, you're responsible for this apt and accurate data accumulation a day before the final season is out and we're happy we're progressing towards pop-culture in a slow yet steady manner. Here's to hoping all your theories and wishes regarding the series see the light of day!
  4. 'Game Of Thrones' first premiered in April, 2011. In the beginning it was just another show adapted from a book series. Today, GOT has become a huge cultural phenomenon in itself. Not only has it garnered a massive global following, but also has a number of storylines intertwined, with the most deaths witnessed in a show ever with an approximate of 174,373 people lost in all GOT episodes in the past seven seasons according to the youtuber Razon Compilations. This number is speculated to double up this season. However, the seventh season was premiered almost two years ago leaving us on a cliffhanger after the impactful series finale. Questions like: Who will sit on the Iron Throne? Or will everyone die by the hands of the White Walkers? Who is Azor Ahai? Will Jon and Dany still have *** after realizing she's his aunt? Questions that have bothered and haunted us for so long. And now that we are ready to watch the final season of 'Game Of Thrones' on Hotstar every Monday 6.30 am starting April 15, it's only obvious we can hardly wait. So, here is a list of super important questions that we need answers to this season. 1. What Will Happen To Brienne And Tormund's Unfinished Story? © HBO While we admire Tormund Giantsbane for his grizzly red beard and unhinged passion for fighting and killing people, his attraction to Brienne in the last season of GOT has really made us invested in this situation. But, in the coming episodes of 'Game Of Thrones', will she get the knighthood she deserves or will she fall for the marriage narrative that restricts women? We'll only know in the coming days. 2. When Will The Army Of The Dead Reach Winterfell? © HBO It took eight seasons to characterize the background of the Winter and the impending doom for this civilisation. The army of the dead were approaching at an alarming speed by the end of the last season of GOT, but how long before they attack Winterfell and take everyone down? Or will they be defeated before? Which episode of Game Of Thrones do you think this will happen? 3. What Happens To Jon And Dany's Relationship Once They Find Out They're Related Through Blood? © HBO Will it be Bran or Sam, Jon's closest friend who breaks the news to Jon? Dany (https://www.mensxp.com/entertainment/news/51880-game-of-thrones-episode-1.html) might not mind the fact that she's Jon's aunt but she will mind if she finds out that Jon is next in line and not her. After Gilly's perusal of an old Archmaester's records, Sam has learned that Rhaegar's marriage to Elia was annulled and the Targaryen prince wed “someone else” in “a secret ceremony in Dorne. This means that Jon is Rhaegar's true-born son and legitimate heir and that is a major unresolved conflict waiting right there. 4. Dany's Dragons Are Fierce But How Do You Even Kill Ice Dragons? © HBO The Night King hurled his spear at Viserion and resurrected him as an ice dragon. Now, we all know killing white walkers is practically impossible. So, how do you get around killing a full-fledged ice dragon? Can mortal people bring Viserion down? Following wight logic, fire, drowning, Valyrian steel, and/or dragonglass could slay the undead beast. But we don't think this beast is going down without causing major damage. Expect major deaths because of it or at least that's what we think. 5. Is Literally Everything Bran's Fault? © HBO The cute little kid who climbed walls and dreamed of being a fierce warrior is long gone. The know-it-all-Bran is cold and indifferent to the world around. With his gifted vision, he can change past events. When he “visits” his father at the Tower of Joy, he calls out to Young Ned, and Ned looks around as if he hears the voice. When he warged into Hodor's body, his connection between the past and present, between Meera shouting “hold the door” and poor young Hodor's mind left an irreparable scar on Hodor which we could not forget. If Bran can manipulate things, what if he set off the chaos by driving Aerys to madness? Side note: Aerys could hear voices that told him to burn things. 6. Who Is The Promised Azor Ahai? © HBO Is it Dany like she assumes, or is it Jon with the whole dramatic unveiling of his birth in the last season or is it... wait for it... Tyrion? Tyrion has been consistently underestimated and is possibly a Targaryen himself. Think about it: he had “dragon dreams” as a kid, and he is the only person besides Daenerys and Jon who has been able to touch a dragon. There must be some logic to that, right? I mean why do the dragons like him and no other mortal to touch them? Joanna Lannister, Tyrion's mother, died on her deathbed and Tywin really hated Tyrion so much and for so long that if you recall his last words, “You're no son of mine" it does suggest that the probability of rape at the hands of the Mad King. What if he's the promised one and not Jon and Dany? So, what do you think? Are you as excited as us to find the answers to these questions at the earliest? Or are these questions too much to handle at the moment? Whatever it is, WE CANNOT WAIT.
  5. The 2019 Pakistan Super League (PSL) ended on a high note when Quetta Gladiators successfully chased down Peshawar Zalmi's below average total of 138 runs in just 17.5 overs to claim their first ever title in the Twenty20 league's history. The Man of the Match award was given to Pakistan's Mohammad Hasnain who was able to snap three wickets while giving up 30 runs in his four overs. Quetta's Ahmed Shehzad led the team's batting order with his 58-on-51 delivery performance as former Aussie captain Shane Watson was dismissed early in the game with a run-out at the hands of Umar Amin. However, the highlight of the evening came after the match was over when, from the crowd of 32,000 cricket fanatics present at the National Stadium in Karachi, emerged an internationally familiar face of a different sport. During the closing ceremony of the 2019 PSL former FIFA World Cup winner and Barcelona FC captain Carles Puyol was brought to the stage followed by a collective roar of cheer coming from the stands. Legendary @Carles5puyol in action at NSK.#HBLPSL #KhelDeewanoKa pic.twitter.com/UbpZeQ9hjv — PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) March 17, 2019 Currently present in the city to promote World Soccer Star football games and the next FIFA World Cup in the country, Puyol said: “It's an amazing welcome, the people are very friendly. I'm very happy to be here.” “I thought Pakistanis only liked cricket but I have seen they like football a lot also and it made me happy,” continued the footballer in Spanish while addressing the capacity crowd. While the sporting fans of Pakistan were overjoyed with the presence of such a well known international figure in their stadium, not everyone on Twitter were able to believe their eyes. Lmao wtf is Carlos Puyol doing at the PSL Final in Karachi?!!! #MadRespectTho — ð»ðð¦ð (@daudthepaki) March 17, 2019 Carlos Puyol in Pakistan. All kinds of madness#PSL — Muneeb (@MuneebKhawar2) March 17, 2019 Wtf is puyol doing in PSL?𧠗 Prasad Suroshe (@PrasadSachinist) March 17, 2019 Why the hell is Puyol at the PSL's closing ceremony?! #PSLFinal — Fanatix (@fanatix63) March 17, 2019 The **** is Puyol doing in PSL? — Sameer (@Notacrickethack) March 17, 2019 We are really going to make Puyol watch the PSL final tomz. What a load of crap ð — Hassan (@AlphaGooner) March 16, 2019
  6. In what turned out to be a nerve-wreaking encounter, Melbourne Renegades clinched their first Big Bash League (BBL) title after getting the better of their city rivals Stars in the summit clash on 17th February. In the first ever all-Mebourne BBL final, Renegades found themselves in a spot of bother after posting a mediocre total of 145 runs. To make matters worse, a 93-run opening partnership between Ben Dunk (57) and Marcus Stoinis (39) had the Stars heavily favoured until their incredible implosion that saw them losing seven wickets for just 19 runs. For the better part of the game, the BBL trophy for the eighth edition looked to be heading towards the green side of the city. But, the Glenn Maxwell-led side finished their innings at 132/7, losing the match and title by 13 runs. While the Renegades pulled off a heist in the final, it was their captain Aaron Finch who stole the limelight. Straight to the pool room. #GETONRED #BBL08 pic.twitter.com/o4hgWpu1Yh — Melbourne Renegades (@RenegadesBBL) 17 February 2019 The Renegades captain became the topic of great discussion on the social media after he was caught destroying a chair with his bat, on his way to the dressing room. Asked to bat first, the Renegades fans were surely delighted to see skipper Finch in ominous touch early in the innings. Despite the loss of two early wickets, Finch was taking on the bowlers and timing the ball to perfection. He had smashed two boundaries and was looking dangerous when luck eluded the Renegades skipper. Cameron White was on the strike against Stars' Jackson Bird when the former played a straight drive that deflected off the bowler's boot and crashed onto the stumps, catching Finch - who was at the non-striker's end - short at the crease. Aaron Finch going berserk on a chair paired with a famous tune #BBLFinal pic.twitter.com/WfeFWrloC1 — corbpie (@corbpie) 17 February 2019 The freak moment left commentators and fans watching on in disbelief. “That's not run out is it?” Fox Cricket commentator Shane Warne said. “Can you believe it Howie? That's a shame. He looked in unbelievable touch, like the Aaron Finch of old today. You've got to be kidding,” he added. Adam Gilchrist agreed it was “stiff”. If the dismissal caught everyone's attention, Finch's antics - moments later - on the way back to the dressing room became the talking point on social media. Walking back in disappointment, Finch swung and smashed a plastic chair. His anger boiled over and he took his frustrations out on the nearest thing he could once he had walked off the ground. His antics instigated all sorts of reactions on social media. While some came to his support, others slammed him for his theatrics. Aaron Finch is every local cricketer who has been given out LBW by one of their teammates #BBLFinal pic.twitter.com/nEV1k9CvTi — Odds.com.au (@OddsComAu) 17 February 2019 Sporting dummy spit of the year goes to Aaron Finch playing in the Big Bash Final in Melboune.#BBLFinal pic.twitter.com/4PaNDm9Hqm — Sports Freakshow â½ðððâ¾ð (@aussiebeastmode) 17 February 2019 #BBL08 Aaron Finch hitting a chair with his bat in frustration. Not a good look!! Setting a poor example for the kids!!! — Dodgy brother (@dogebros) 17 February 2019 First sign of life and emotion in cricket all year ð — Simon K (@SimonSaysSport) 17 February 2019 Those freakin little legs just couldn't get back in-line. Bloody angry little man #BBLFinal @Australia @cricketcomau — Devil (@AvalancheBITW) 17 February 2019 Finch caught on camera smashing a chair with his bat. He'll probably be fined... because it was caught on camera #BBLFinal — Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) 17 February 2019
  7. A couple of days ago, in what can be considered as one of the most heartbreaking stories of 2019, Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala's body was recovered from a plane wreckage after over a month since his flight went off radar somewhere over the English channel. While the striker was suspected to be dead already for a couple of months, a private rescue party was still out there looking for him relentlessly until they finally spotted the debris from the crashed plane. In the first home game ever since Sala's body was given back to his parents for a proper funeral, his previous team, Nantes FC, a French Ligue 1 team, decided to carry out one final goodbye in the biggest and the most impactful way they could. 9ï¸â£.#PlayForSala | #FCNNO pic.twitter.com/13uReHJiL0 — FC Nantes (@FCNantes) February 10, 2019 The 28-year-old's former teammates came out of the locker room wearing all black with a sticker that read 'Sala' on their backs as the crowd chanted “La la la la…, Em-il-ia-no” before a loud roar of applause rose from the benches. Members from both the teams formed a circle along with their coaching staff to mourn together at the loss of a fine footballer. Just before the match began, a large screen showed all 48 goals he scored in 133 appearances during his four-year career with the French club. Nantes also retired Sala's jersey number 9, which is the first jersey ever to be retired in the 76-year-old history of the club. The visiting team, Nîmes Olympique too showed their respect for the dead footballer by wearing a black armband around their biceps. Les joueurs de Nîmes ont déposé un bouquet de jonquilles devant La Tribune Loire en la mémoire d'Emiliano Sala pic.twitter.com/R5WbDJNFfe — jean-marcel boudard (@JMBoudard) February 10, 2019 Nantes' head coach Vahid Halilhodzic was unable to hold back his tears after the news of Sala's death was made public on Friday. “He is someone who will leave an eternal memory in this club through his behaviour and his modesty,” said a very emotional Halilhodzic in a press conference.
  8. In sports, you simply aren't considered a real champion until you have defended your title successfully. Winning it once can be a fluke, winning it twice proves you are the best. And that is exactly what Vidarbha did today by defeating Saurashtra in the Finals of Ranji Trophy 2018-19 to win their second title in a row. The Ranji Trophy Final swung in multiple ways over the course of four days. In the first innings of the match, Vidarbha posted a decent total of 312, in response to which, Saurashtra tried to strike back but fell short of 5 runs, courtesy Aditya Sarwate's five-wicket-haul. Later in the second innings, Jaydev Unadkat and men managed to restrict Vidarbha to a score of 200, widening their chances of winning. But once again, Vidarbha's blistering bowling attack, consisting of Sarwate, Akshay Wakhare and Umesh Yadav, took the game away from Saurashtra as they wrapped them up on a mere total of 127, and winning the match and the title by 78 runs. © AP We all know that the most important role in winning a test match is that of a bowler's. You can't win a test until and unless either team bags all the ten wickets. Having said that, bowlers from both the end showed full character till the end. On one hand where Dharmendrasinh Jadeja took 7 wickets for Saurashtra, the 29-year-old Aditya Sarwate, who was playing on his home ground, turned out to be the trump card of Vidarbha, bagging 11 wickets. Despite their loss in the final, Saurashtra would surely take a lot of confidence from their magnificent performance throughout the season. Every single player has stood out in some or the other match, be it Ravindra Jadeja (scored 178 against Railways) in the beginning or Jaydev Shah (scored 427 runs in 9 matches) throughout the tournament. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (59 wickets and 276 runs) is another rising star who stole the show for Saurashtra at many occasions, not only with the ball, but also with his brilliant batting strokes. Cheteshwar Pujara (scoring 131 in the semi-final) was yet another big gun, who joined the team in the later half of the tournament, helping his team get into the final. Coming in the tournament as a nobody, Saurashtra managed to start on a decent note with a draw against Chhattisgarh, and later went on to beat big players such as Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra on their road to the final. The entire season was brilliantly commanded by Jaydev Unadkat (39 wickets in 11 matches) and a little help towards the end from the experienced Pujara, helped Saurashtra to get to this position. © AP We hope this thrilling performance by Saurashtra sets an example for other teams to showcase their talent and strive to come at the top in the seasons to come.
  9. With the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup, here is a look at what the members of the 2011 World Cup winning Indian cricket team are up to these days. Virender Sehwag © Reuters Although Sehwag did not have the perfect World Cup final as he was dismissed on the second delivery for a duck against Sri Lanka, he did have a great run during the 2011 World Cup tournament itself, which began with a massive 175-run innings against Bangladesh in the first match. After officially retiring from all formats of the game in 2015, Viru provides his expertise on various pre and post match analytical shows. Sehwag is a proud owner of Sehwag International School that has been producing some of the most talented players from the younger lot. He can also be seen on social media every now and then, roasting others and sometimes, even himself. Sachin Tendulkar © Reuters In his final days as one of the Men in Blue, the 2011 World Cup can probably be considered as the endgame for the master blaster. Having an above average run, Tendulkar was more or less consistent during the Group matches and also the Knockout rounds. Scoring 120 against England in the second match and 53 against Australia in the quarter finals, Tendulkar made it clear to the world that he's still got it. After lifting the cup during the victory round with the Wankhede Stadium chanting his name, Tendulkar retired from ODIs in 2012 after a disappointing series against England. What is remarkable about Tendulkar's post-retirement life is how much he has done to promote sports other than cricket. Owner of the Indian Super League franchise Kerala Blasters and Premier Badminton League franchise Bengaluru Blasters, Tendulkar is also the UNICEF ambassador for Hygiene and Sanitation and also launched a sports management company called STD in 2016. Gautam Gambhir © Reuters Probably the most consistent batsman throughout the 2011 World Cup, Gautam Gambhir played a crucial role in India successfully chasing Sri Lanka's respectable score of 274 in the final. Although Gambhir got bowled off Thisara Perera's delivery with 50 odd runs still left to be made, his heroic innings helped MS Dhoni reach the target a lot more easily. After winning the 2011 World Cup, Gambhir struggled to find his form and went off the radar for quite some time. He began to play domestic cricket and was even called to play a Test series against New Zealand in 2016. However, Gambhir announced his retirement ahead of his final match for team Delhi in the 2018 Ranji Trophy season, in which he also scored a century on 6th December 2018. Virat Kohli © Reuters Scoring a decent 35 in the final against Sri Lanka, Kohli was just 22 years old when India lifted the Cup. Although he became a familiar face for the Indian audience, not a lot was expected out of the future captain as players like Sehwag and Tendulkar were there. Kohli himself has expressed a lack of emotions after the win because he didn't feel like he earned it. A lot has changed in eight years. Not only has the 22-year-old outspoken boy evolved into a wise and calm (relatively) captain, he has also spearheaded the team to great heights, winning a Test series in Australia, for instance, which none of his predecessors were able to achieve. With the 2019 World Cup approaching, Kohli looks focused and will surely have strong emotions towards whatever the Indian Cricket Team has in store for themselves in the future. MS Dhoni © Reuters A captain, a wicketkeeper and a batsman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni aced in every category during the 2011 World Cup. A massive but more importantly, clutch innings put out by the middle-order hitter was a great testament of exactly how much we will miss Mahi when he finally decides to retire (hopefully after another World Cup). Named the Man of the Match in the final, Dhoni won the Cup for Team India in wonderful fashion with a six. Eight years later, despite many stints of bad form, Dhoni continues to be the 'finisher of games' for the Indian side. After winning the ODI series in Australia while acting as the backbone of the squad, Dhoni has proved his critics wrong once again and is making a great case for another hand at the upcoming World Cup. Yuvraj Singh © Reuters Other than getting out on the first ball against Pakistan in the semi final, Yuvraj Singh was steady as a rock for the Men in Blue for the entire tournament. His back-to-back 50s against England and Ireland in the initial rounds and a masterful 113 against the Windies in the 42nd Match were some of the best innings played during that year's World Cup. Soon after winning the World Cup, Singh was diagnosed with a rare cancer which spread into his lungs but after months of therapy and diet-control, Yuvi was able to make a comeback to cricket. Although, he has not yet announced his retirement, his absence from the roster is a clear indication of the inevitable. His Yuvraj Singh Foundation and cancer organisation, YouWeCan is focused on helping diagnosed patients get treatment and create awareness against the stigma attached to cancer. Suresh Raina © Reuters To be completely honest, Suresh Raina did not contribute a lot towards India's rise throughout the tournament and thanks to Dhoni's game-winning innings, did not get to bat in the final too. His best innings came in the semi final during which the batsman scored 36 runs. After being an integral part of Team India for years to come after the 2011 victory, Raina hit a slump in 2016 and has been on and off the team ever since. Having played his last ODI and T20I match for the national team back in July'18 against England, Raina is trying to make a comeback but it may be too late for the senior middle-order batsman to return. Zaheer Khan © Reuters In a time when Indian bowling was considered to be subpar, it was Zaheer Khan who led the attack when his side was fielding. Albeit, Khan proved to be expensive in the final three overs against the Lankans in the final, his consistency and deliverance throughout the tournament can not be questioned. Case in point, Khan's three-wicket attack against England in what was considered to be the toughest match throughout the tournament for India. After retiring from international and domestic cricket in 2015, 'Zak' has entered the fitness industry with his brainchild venture ProSport Fitness. Khan now has two fitness centres in Mumbai and is looking to expand to other cities as well. He also has a couple of restaurants and a sports lounge in Pune. S Sreesanth © Reuters 27 years old at the time, S Sreesanth was fierce with the ball. However, the World Cup proved to be a disappointment for the pacer who gave up 52 runs in just 8 overs in the final match against Sri Lanka. Sreesanth was a surprise pick for the playing 11 after Ashish Nehra was out due to an injury. His journey after winning the Cup was full of unfortunate milestones as two years later, the Kerala-born was caught in the infamous spot-fixing scandal during the 2013 IPL scandal and was sentenced a lifetime ban from playing cricket. Recently, Sreesanth became the 2018 season's runners-up of the reality show, Bigg Boss. Sreesanth has appealed to the judiciary, time and again to lift the ban on his cricketing career but it hasn't led to anything fruitful. Harbhajan Singh © Reuters Cricket is not all about aggressive bowling and trying to take wickets, it is also about preventing to concede runs and work towards forcing the opponent to put up the smallest total that they can. During the 2011 World Cup, Bhajji, who not only was the second highest wicket taker for the Indian side, he also had one of the best economy rate amongst the Men in Blue. Not having officially retired from the international scenario, Singh has no plans of playing international or first class cricket anymore. Having said that, he continues to play for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. Munaf Patel © Reuters Munaf Patel's impressive performance in the ODI series in Sri Lanka in 2010 got him a spot in the 2011 World Cup squad as Parveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra were out due to injury. While a lot of people belief Patel's role in the victory wasn't very eventful, the more technically sound fans call him the unsung hero. The then-bowling coach, Eric Simmons commends Patel's high degree of skills which covered up the lack of pace. Unfortunately for Patel, once the World Cup was over, his days with the Indian national team were numbered. Playing his last ODI against England in September 2011, Patel was last seen on the field, playing in the 2017 IPL for the Gujarat Lions. He has also expressed the desire to begin a career as a coach.
  10. Ladies and gentlemen! The stage is set for two of the best tennis athletes of this generation to go toe to toe, as the 2019 Australian Open (AO) will conclude with the final showdown between Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Spain's Rafael Nadal on Sunday, 27th January 2019. On Thursday, Nadal looked locked in as he won what looked like a very simple semi-final against the Greek marvel Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was probably the biggest surprise of the tournament this year as he defeated the great Roger Federer in four sets in the Round of 16. Ever since the first game, Nadal was looking for the corners to position his shots and to wear down his opponent through the three-set victory. While, on the other hand, Djokovic too looked at home competing against France's Pouille in the semi-final on Friday against France's Lucas Pouille. It was as if Djokovic took control of the French from the first set, dictating his every move with a shot of his own. After winning 6-0, 6-2, 6-2, Djokovic has eyes set on what will be his seventh AO title. Both men go into the #AusOpen final relatively refreshed. Djokovic time on court: 11 hours, 59 minutes Nadal time on court: 12 hours, 11 minutes pic.twitter.com/zxqXMCfT7l — #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2019 However, there's only one man standing between the Serbian and his 15th Grand Slam and that is the 17x Grand Slam champion specimen of pure strength, the Spanish bull, Rafael Nadal. In the past, the competition between Djokovic (World Rank 1) and Nadal (World Rank 2) has been pretty even as Novak has won 27 games out of the 52 matchups while Nadal has won the remaining 25. This match is going to be a recap of one of the most memorable AO finals, which is recorded as the longest Grand Slam Final match ever. Held in 2012, the match between the two tennis stars lasted for almost six hours and was ultimately won by Djokovic in five entertaining sets with a final score 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7(5–7), 7–5, in favour of Novak. However, in what is considered to be a comeback tournament for Nadal, who has basically reinvented his game, depending more on technique than power and a new serve, we believe that the odds are stacked in favour of the Spaniard. If Nadal does manage to win against the current World Rank No. 1, it would be his first AO title in 10 years and second overall.
  11. Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus have found themselves in a bit of a sticky wicket, as their pursuit for the first title in the New Year is overshadowed by rage, protests and probably the most bizarre human rights violation in the history of football, as Saudi Arabia has banned 'women unaccompanied by men' to enter the football stadiums. As the reigning Serie A and Italian Cup champions Juventus prepare to go against A.C. Milan in tomorrow's Supercoppa Italiana final at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, in Jeddah, Amnesty International, an NGO which works for the Human Rights all over the world, have requested the both of them to not participate in the contest at all. The request came from the NGO following the assassination of journalist and women's rights activist, Jamal Khashoggi. Le donne alla #SuperCoppaItaliana vanno allo stadio solo se accompagnate dagli uomini. Ma stiamo scherzando? I signori del #calcio vendano pure i diritti delle partite ma non si permettano di barattare i diritti delle donne! — laura boldrini (@lauraboldrini) January 3, 2019 When Serie A made public the information about some seats being available only to men and that women may only be allowed to sit in the 'Family' section of the stadium, it only added fuel to the fire. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini showed his displeasure by calling the whole act “disgusting” and announced that he will not be watching the game. While no news from either of the teams about shunning the game is out yet, Saudi Arabia's decision to ban single women from stadiums cries for support from big influences like Juventus and A.C. Milan. Players like Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, who are loved by millions from all around ought to feel a sense of responsibility towards their fans and their human rights. But sadly, Juventus defender Alex Sandro feels that “the Saudis have taken a step forward," allowing at least married women to come and watch the sport. He believes that “they have a different fan base…” and hopes to have a good final. Partial human rights mean no human rights at all.
  12. After a dominating 137-run victory in the 3rd Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, BCCI announced the final 13-man squad for the 4th and final Test match of the series scheduled to take place at the SCG in Sydney starting 3rd January 2019. India name 13-man squad for SCG Test: Virat Kohli (C), A Rahane (VC), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, C Pujara, H Vihari, R Pant, R Jadeja, K Yadav, R Ashwin, M Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav A decision on R Ashwin's availability will be taken on the morning of the Test #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/4Lji2FExU8 — BCCI (@BCCI) January 2, 2019 A series of developments have taken place in the last two days as Rohit Sharma has gone back home to spend time with his newborn while Ishant Sharma didn't make the cut, despite earlier announcements of him replacing Umesh Yadav were made. Left-arm chinaman, Kuldeep Yadav is also included. Although all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, who's recovering from an abdominal injury has been named as one of the final 13, a decision on his availability will be made on Thursday morning just before the match begins. While fans are more or less convinced with the roster, the BCCI is being criticised for selecting out-of-form batsman KL Rahul in the final 13. @imVkohli @BCCI @RaviShastriOfc why kl rahul is included in team again? Do you have some standard left? Is performance any benchmark or just good looks are req for team selection? Everyone has to earn his place, not just being coach's favorite ð ð ð #INDvAUS — PruBaba (@theprashu) January 2, 2019 Where is ishant ? he would have scored more runs than kl rahul ð — arvind (@arvind_1352) January 2, 2019 KL Rahul & Umesh Yadav ðððso we have decided to lose the match. — Aditya ðð(@MyTakeOn_) January 2, 2019 I still don't know why these guys are ignoring Bhuvi he is better bowler than Umesh And considering present form better batsman than Rahul — Anjaneya Durgesh K (@AnjaneyaDurgesh) January 2, 2019 Are you serious. @mvj888 is more deserving than the useless @klrahul11 . Partiality at it's best.ð — ð²Sharad / Patel ð²(@iamsharad98) January 2, 2019 Quite surprised with Indian team selection's decision on inclusion of K L Rahul in 13 man squad !! Has he not been given enough chances ? He needs more polish to perform at the national level ! Half baked dish is harmful for India at this stage. — Pushpinder Singh Sappal (@Pushpin63862765) January 2, 2019 This is seriously shitty team selection. @mvj888 Got a ð¯in practice match at SCG, and just dropped after 2 matches is not given a chance, whereas @klrahul11 Who has been given 19 test innings and has failed (other than one off in England) is preferred ahead. — Saurabh Khatod (@Saurabh105) January 2, 2019 The opposition to KL Rahul's inclusion in the squad may be well justified, as despite being given numerous opportunities to prove his worth, Rahul has failed to perform time and again. Before being dropped from the playing 11 for the 3rd Test, Rahul scored 2 and 44 at Adelaide and 2 and 0 at Perth. The fact that debutant Mayank Agarwal put up more runs than Rahul's combined total in just a single inning, really puts things into perspective. With India leading the series 2-1, the Men in Blue are on the verge of their first ever Test series victory against Australia on their home turf. If included in the final roster, KL Rahul's success or failure would most definitely play a crucial role.
  13. Often considered the best player of his generation and regarded by many as one of the greatest players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo needs no introduction to football. The Portuguese has won 26 trophies in his career including five league titles, five UEFA Champions League titles and one UEFA European Championship. For someone who has scored over 670 senior goals for club and country, it's not surprising at all to see Ronaldo boasting of a record-tying five Ballon d'Ors. Needless to say, Ronaldo has won almost everything there is in football. But, despite that, the 33-year-old is still hungry for more success - a trait that sets him apart from other footballers. It was his hunger to overcome financial adversities that saw him emerging from the Portuguese island of Madeira and taking over the football world with his impeccable skills. At a time when his arch-rival Lionel Messi was leading the Ballon d'Or race with four wins against Ronaldo's one, it was his hunger that pushed him to level the proceedings at five wins apiece. © Reuters And, as it turns out, that same hunger echoed inside the Real Madrid dressing room as Ronaldo delivered an inspirational speech to his teammates ahead of their UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool last season. History was on the line as Madrid aimed to become the first-ever football club to record three successive UCL title wins in Kiev. Seeking some encouragement and wisdom, Madrid turned to their talisman Ronaldo who told his teammates: "It's time to win, not to play". Urging his teammates to put everything on the line, Ronaldo added, "Let's run and fight, and then our quality will show." "It's worthy dying tonight to make history. We will be the first with three titles: play, win and make history. C'mon!," Ronaldo said in his motivational speech, which was caught in the recently-released documentary 'In the Heart of the Decimotercera' where Madrid re-lived another successful Champions League campaign. While Ronaldo couldn't get his name on the scoring-sheet, his words eventually inspired Los Blancos to a 3-1 win over Liverpool and allowed them to create history as the first club to win three consecutive Champions League titles. Savouring their historic win, Madrid were dealt with a big blow after Ronaldo dropped the bombshell about his desire to move away from Santiago Bernabeu right after their win in Kiev. Since then, Ronaldo has moved to Turin-based Juventus and is currently seen plying his trade in Italy, while Madrid saw Julen Lopetegui taking over the reins from Zinedine Zidane as their new manager.
  14. In 2015, when Son Heung-min signed a deal with Tottenham Hotspur for 22 million pounds, the South Korean footballer etched his name in the history books as the most expensive Asian player in history. For someone who honed his skills at Germany's Hamburger SV and then played for Bayer Leverkusen, Son eventually found his calling at the North London club, where he also became the top Asian goalscorer in Premier League history. If his club career scaled new heights, Son also proved his mettle on the international stage, representing South Korea. He was a vital cog of the South Korean football team at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups. And, more recently, he became the joint top-scorer for his country alongside Park Ji-sung and Ahn Jung-hwan at the World Cup. At the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, Son proved crucial for his side as South Korea finished the tournament as runners-up. © Reuters But, all of his records and achievements would mean nothing if Son loses the men's football final at the 2018 Asian Games on 1st September. South Korea will be looking to clinch the gold medal when they lock horns with Japan in the coveted final, but for Son, the match will probably be the last opportunity for him to save what has been a prolific football career. According to the South Korean government's policy, all able-bodied males in the country are subjected to complete at least 21 months of military service before turning 28. However, there is an exception to it. Those who have secured gold medals at the Olympics or Asian Games are automatically exempted from completing the mandatory military service for the said duration. © Reuters With Son now 26, the ongoing Games in Indonesia is probably his last chance to get out of military duty and fulfil his new five-year contract at Tottenham. But, it definitely is not going to be easy for Son and his teammates to contain fierce rivals Japan in the final. South Korea lost to Malaysia in the group stage and needed extra-time to battle past Uzbekistan in the quarterfinal. The South Koreans, then, defeated Vietnam 3-1 to storm into the final. On Saturday, when Son takes the field with his teammates against Japan in the final, apart from the South Koreans, the Tottenham team and their fans, too, will keep close tabs on the fixture in a desperate hope that their star goes on to secure the all-important gold medal.
  15. Paul Pogba produced a master class from the centre of the pitch, as France were crowned world champions after beating Croatia 4-2 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow last night. Antoine Griezmann was named the Man of the Match, but it was Pogba's display that was the highlight of France's power-packed recovery in the second half, after the Croats dominated the game in the first 45 minutes despite being 2-1 down against the 1998 champions. Throughout the tournament, Didier Deschamps opted to play a midfield three with Blaise Matuidi and N'Golo Kanté slotting in just behind Pogba. This allowed the Manchester United star to have more influence on games over the course of the World Cup campaign, and more so in the final last night. © Reuters Since his move to the Premier League giant two years ago, Pogba has often been criticised for his lack of commitment in defensive situations. But his dominating display against, arguably the best midfield trio at this World Cup in Golden Ball winner Luka ModriÄ, Ivan RakitiÄ and Inter Milan's Marcelo BrozoviÄ, was a mere reminder of what the Frenchman is capable of. And, his efforts were deeply rewarded with an expertly crafted goal on a counter-attack orchestrated by Pogba himself. He started the move with a sublime pass to teenager Kylian Mbappé, who put the ball across to Griezmann. He couldn't find enough room to pick a shot and instead, laid it back for Pogba, who had his first shot blocked. The resulting deflection saw Pogba receive the ball once again, and this time, he picked his spot with a precise left-footed drive past Danijel SubašiÄ which put the Les Blues in the driving seat for the rest of the encounter. © Reuters It was a historic moment for him as he became the first Manchester United player to score in the tournament's finale. The midfielder also became only the third Red Devils star to win a World Cup, joining greats Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles who were part of the famous English triumph of 1966. After the game, Pogba stood right in front of the cameras, shook his head and held his hand to his ear as to send a clear message to his critics: "Where are you now?”. He was delighted to prove them wrong and achieve a remarkable feat for his country. "It's just unbelievable, magnificent, wonderful, a dream come true," Pogba said. © Reuters "People criticise and talk bad about us at the start of the World Cup but today we won, and now I want to hear them, because they're going to celebrate with us, and its fine, we invite them to celebrate with us. We like when people do not believe us and we showed them they have to believe in us,” he added. The day after the iconic Bastille Day, France have finally added the second star to their crest, courtesy of a Paul Pogba show which could have an everlasting impact on this generation of Les Blues stars, and on the erroneous assumptions of those who questioned the 25-year-old midfielder's capabilities.
  16. Kylian Mbappe became the first teenager since Pele in 1958, to score in a World Cup final. The French star carried his fine form to the final as his goal helped France lift the World Cup for the second time. His performances have received praise from fans and pundits, alike. In Russia, Mbappe finished with 4 goals and also won the FIFA Young Player award for his performances at the World Cup. He is the second French player in a row to win this accolade after Paul Pogba won it four years ago. The award, which can only be won by players born on or after January 1, is given to the outstanding young footballer at the finals. © Reuters "Technical qualities such as skill, style, and charisma are taken into account, but so are other important factors such as a sense of fair play and a genuine impression that the player is playing for the love of the game," according to FIFA. Mbappe took his goal extremely well, as a move started by Theo Hernandez was finished by him in an emphatic manner. Hernandez did a couple of step-overs before squaring the ball for Mbappe, who seemed certain to hit a curling shot towards the top corner of the far post. Instead, he took a ripe low towards the near post, and Danijel Subasic was completely out-foxed. It was a high IQ play from the French forward, as his goal all but sealed the victory for the Les Blues. © Reuters Brazil icon Pele was just 17 when he scored twice in a 5-2 win over Sweden in 1958 - the start of an incredible international career. After watching Mbappe's achievement, he tweeted: "Only the second teenager to have scored a goal in a #WorldCupFinal! Welcome to the club, @KMbappe - it's great to have some company!" Winning the World Cup at the age of just 19 is remarkable, and Mbappe could be the player to lead the march for French football for years to come.
  17. 'France may have won the World Cup, but Croatia won everyone's hearts' – I have read this at least 15 times since last night because it's true. Croatia stunned everyone in this World Cup with their performance and by actually reaching the finals. But, I have a better alternative for the above statement – 'France may have been the real winner this year at the FIFA World Cup but the memes and tweets truly won our hearts', because obviously, everything is incomplete without everyone talking about it online and making fun of it. So, here's a recap of the exciting match that even people who don't watch football thoroughly enjoyed, because yay football! Let's start with probably the most powerful man in the world and his huge umbrella. The Russian football team didn't make it to the finals, but President Vladimir Putin still knew how to show everyone he's still the boss with his huge, umm umbrella. Sir how many umbrellas should we bring? Putin: Just one. They didn't let us win. Let them soak! #FRACRO #WorldCup #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/RM0Qzv1xW6 — The Writer Formerly Known As Elnathan (@elnathan_john) July 15, 2018 Looks like Putin doesn't believe in 'atithi devo bhava'. In case you were wondering who is in charge, #Putin gets the biggest umbrella while his visitors get drenched.......#FRACRO #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/j5VpwZRiah — Justice Malala (@justicemalala) July 15, 2018 Not making that mistake again. That was the last time he left an umbrella at home. #PutinUmbrella #FifaWorldCupRussia2018 #AllezLesBleus #GentlemanPutin pic.twitter.com/mwccZNjZ0z — Arnoldas Pikzirnis (@Pikzirnis) July 15, 2018 Yep, sums it up. So the Russians only remembered an umbrella for their own President Putin... left the leaders of France and Croatia out in the rain for minutes... pretty much sums up today's international politics. #WorldCup18 pic.twitter.com/W5UDTTwMxS — Keir Simmons (@KeirSimmons) July 15, 2018 Next, we have the Croatian President who has become a fan favourite throughout this World Cup simply because of her enthusiasm for her team. Another important thing to note here is the contrast between her country losing and Russia losing, she's still excited and happily hugging everyone, whereas Putin looks like a sore loser, who can't believe his country lost, especially when they were the host. Absolutely â¤ï¸ the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-KitaroviÄ and her gracious interaction with French President Macron and her entire national team... Very cool.@EmmanuelMacron @KolindaGK pic.twitter.com/JOMrdqIBVD — The Wizard of Oz (@Jokintino) July 15, 2018 Hats off! Hats off to Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia. She attended every Croatia match at the World Cup, travelled in economy class and sat with the fans in the stadium. She refused to take any pay for her days not at work. Now that's leadership.#Croatia #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/KTXJlHqSbD — James Melville (@JamesMelville) July 15, 2018 So emotional. Modric meeting Croatian president So emotional ð­#WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/4VOiUhIEJj — Abaid (@KhawajaAbaid) July 15, 2018 The best moment. For me this was the best moment from #WorldCupFinal The world can be a much better & peaceful place if countries can just hug and hold each other <3 pic.twitter.com/TDatblwiek — Atul Khatri (@one_by_two) July 16, 2018 Full props to Macron as well! Macron comforting Modric's children #WorldCupFinal #WorldCup2018 pic.twitter.com/7vQfvaZHvV — Scott Galloway (@profgalloway) July 15, 2018 The famous Fortnite dance also made an appearance during the match for some reason. Handball. Penalty kick. Fortnite dance for the whole world to see. Griezmann is having himself a match pic.twitter.com/zM40nJGMK9 — Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) July 15, 2018 Yes dude, Griezmann really did that. Dude just did a dance from Fortnite after scoring a goal in the world cup final #fra #FrancevsCroatia #nerd — Matthew_Sweeney (@IM__A__RADICAL) July 15, 2018 Yep, exactly. A penalty kick goal and a Fortnite dance ... Its a 2018 type of game ð¤·ð»‍âï¸ #CRO #FRA #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/VF3CwjfLEo — Troy Hughes™ (@TommySledge) July 15, 2018 And, people also can't stop talking about Mbappe, the 19-year-old French football player who's making me, a 22-year-old, feel old. What were you doing at 19? Not winning the FIFA World Cup, that's for sure. Whenever Mbappe gets the ball.. #WorldCupFinal ðððð ð«ð· ð«ð· ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð·ð«ð· pic.twitter.com/cVcw8DJuaQ — Pothina (@ipt_pothina) July 15, 2018 Oops. When realize World Cup is done and you have to go back to playing your defensive position at Manchester United ð£ð£#WorldCupFinal #FRACRO #FRAKRO pic.twitter.com/1TzSwPOi9b — dennisthemenaceðºð¬ (@dennis_matovu) July 15, 2018 Welcome. MBAPPEEEEEEE!!!!!! Allow me to INTRODUCE myself! #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/p5Wazy8spO — Felonious Munk (@Felonious_munk) July 15, 2018 Legs for days? Kylian Mbappe giving it legs ð¥ð¥ð¥ #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/EXltqz3DsN — Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) July 15, 2018 And, then Virendra Sehwag saying what we were all wondering? Croatian players names sound so Punjabi. Vich #WorldCupFinal — Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) July 15, 2018 Remember when this happened? There's the most bravest woman in the world #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/er9tiERl8m — Roastbeef Johnny (@roastbeefjohnny) July 15, 2018 Beware of Putin's wrath. The fully clothed streakers will be executed after the match. #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/kzlJmn9Ewx — Jayneel Ramjee (@jramjee) July 15, 2018 Oh boy. Did they just run onto the pitch of Putins #WorldCupFinal? Oh boy... pic.twitter.com/xpfu6NLbtN — Angry Wrestling Fan (@RingGeneral) July 15, 2018 This is exactly what happened. Messi and ronaldo watching at home along with neymar ðð #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/yZ2NRW4QuJ — Shah Fahad pti (@iamshah289) July 15, 2018 Yep. Perisic points to his thigh after scoring that screamer! #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/n0BesqIWK1 — Sam Friedman (@SamDFriedman) July 15, 2018 All of us last night. I'm watching this game like:#worldcupfinal pic.twitter.com/exdTifeX9T — Alexandre Carvalho (@neoxande) July 15, 2018 Truly. #FRACRO man of the match pic.twitter.com/9jygOwLSoL — Raph (@RaphaQt) July 15, 2018 Perfect picture. Own goal & then penalty, Croatia v Croatia #WorldCupFinal #FRACRO pic.twitter.com/fMXdmJ3qxi — Supercool DJ Atom (@Isiyaka12) July 15, 2018 Oh no. "Fifa, I don't feel so good"#WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/RREvGPt6AN — finen't (@TheLethalray) July 15, 2018 That's so cute. France don't you dare making Jack-Jack cry today #WorldCupFinal pic.twitter.com/dYXkUpZ9gI — nate ð¦ (@fixyouwlove) July 15, 2018
  18. As a football fan, you can't help feeling thoroughly satisfied and drained as the World Cup comes to a fitting end. For a World Cup full of surprises and upsets, we really hoped that Croatia could pull off one more upset. However, there wasn't to be one final hurrah for the underdogs as France overcame a Croatian side that won hearts all over the world. However, even Croatian fans won't deny that this final was a beautiful illustration of what a magnificent World Cup we all witnessed. © Reuters To begin with, this final had as many goals as the last four World Cup finals combined. No matter how prolific the teams' football is, each team tries to restrain itself in the final as the stakes are too high and playing fast attacking football is deemed to be too risky. However, as has been typical of this World Cup, the finalists paid no heed to what anyone had predicted. The skill, will and desire of both the teams were on full display as they decided to stick true to their principles and win it their way. © Reuters We also got to witness everything we haven't yet seen in World Cup final. A first own goal in a World Cup final, the first application of VAR in a World Cup final, first goals from outside the box in a World Cup final since 1952, the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele and the first goalkeeping howler in a World Cup final. At the end of this beautifully scripted chaos, we had a worthy winner in France who overcame Croatia 4-2. © Reuters It might be easy to assume that amongst so many records of note, football must've taken a backseat. Make no mistake though, while Croatian valour may have finally succumbed to one of the giants, never once did they seem to think that they were out of the game. Well France, they played with the arrogance of champions and no one could've doubted that they didn't deserve to win the game. If this World Cup was the stuff of dreams, this World Cup final at the Luzhniki Stadium was its zenith. And after such a memorable final, we can't help but look back at this World Cup. While it certainly wasn't short on entertainment, some of the fans may have been disappointed to see their heroes subdued so early in the tournament. But for those of us who stuck around for the madness, we witnessed a football treat. From Belgium's last minute heartbreak of Japan, to Russia proving themselves to be worthy hosts by defeating Spain, we felt butterflies in our stomach almost on a daily basis. And amidst all this drama, emerged our new heroes. © Reuters Luka Modric went from being the unsung hero to being the most revered player on the planet for his ability to make all those around him play better, and thus, was the deserved winner of the Golden Ball. The Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's warm and elongated embrace of Modric during the presentation was beautiful depiction of how each one of us wanted to console him. And finally, Kylian Mbappe, the winner of the Best Young Player of the Tournament, who ran defences ragged, had the world at his feet as his Head of State proudly looked into his eyes and thanked him during the presentation. As the French players lifted the trophy amidst the heavy downpour, we couldn't help but wonder how kind the footballing Gods had been to us! © Reuters And with that, we conclude our once in four years month long vacation. As we wait for Qatar 2022, the standards have been set too high. However, after what we've just witnessed, the memories of this World Cup will serve us for too long before the excitement of the next one grips us!
  19. France's Hugo Lloris gestures during the warm up before the match. Photo: REUTERSMOSCOW: France and Croatia both avoided any surprises as they named unchanged line-ups for the World Cup final on Sunday, setting up a heavyweight midfield clash...
  20. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final is just around the corner as mighty Croatia take on European giants, France in Moscow. The Croatians are featuring at this stage of the tournament for the first time in their history, but the French have been here before as they are looking to reclaim the World Title they won back in 1998. But between these teams and the World title lies a 90-min battle and 22-players who will be highly motivated to get their hands on the 7-kg gold trophy. Source: Reuters While the French are the clear favourites here, Croatia is considered the dark horse to lift the title, and with their motivation expected to be sky high, we can't be certain of who shines. One player in particular who would want to break a jinx at World Cup finals is Daniel Subasic. He would be more motivated than anyone else to ensure he does not add to an unwanted record and prove the Monaco Theory a real thing. What is the Monaco Theory? Here are the hard facts that are laid out on the table for all to see. The World Cup Final of 2006, 2010 and 2014 all featured a Monaco goalkeeper who ended up on the losing side. Fabien Barthez for France in 2006, Maarten Stekelenburg for the Netherlands in 2010 and Sergio Romero in 2014 for Argentina all ended up on the losing side at the World Cup Final. To make matters interesting, there is the presence of Daniel Subasic who is playing his club football at Monaco and is in the World Cup Final with Croatia as they take on France. Source: Reuters Will Subasic break the jinx of the Monaco goalkeeper conundrum to lift the title with Croatia? Or will the Monaco goalkeeper theory reach another level and continue the unwanted jinx, this time on Croatia?
  21. Boys rescued from the Thai cave wear masks and rest at a hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand in this still image taken from a July 11, 2018 handout video. Photo: Handout BANGKOK: Twelve boys and their football coach rescued from a flooded Thai cave...
  22. Novak Djokovic celebrates match point during his match against Rafael Nadal on day 12 at All England Lawn and Croquet Club. Photo: Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports LONDON: Novak Djokovic envies Kevin Anderson the extra night?s sleep he?ll have...
  23. Germany´s Angelique Kerber poses with the winner´s trophy, the Venus Rosewater Dish, after her women´s singles final victory over US player Serena Williams on the twelfth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships. Photo: AFP LONDON: Angelique...
  24. Serbia´s Novak Djokovic returns against Spain´s Rafael Nadal during the continuation of their men´s singles semi-final match on the twelfth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships. Photo: AFP LONDON: Novak Djokovic reached his fifth Wimbledon...
  25. In 1998, Croatia reached the semifinals of the World Cup, beaten by the eventual winners France. 20 years on, the Golden Generation has reached their first ever World Cup final, beating England 2-1 in extra time. In 1998, they were led by Miroslav Blazevic, who also led them to the quarterfinals of the 1996 Euros. This time around, they are led by Zlatko Dalic. But who exactly is Dalic? We take a look at the 51-year-old, who has gone unnoticed in a World Cup managed by the renowned Deschamps, Loews, and Sampaolis. An unknown quantity in football, Dalic's stock is set to rise post the World Cup, irrespective of the result. He only took over as coach of Croatia in October 2017, leading Croatia to a playoff win against Ukraine and losing twice in twelve games since. He has spent a majority of his playing career in the former Yugoslavia, before hanging his boots in 2000. © Reuters He managed Croatian lower division side Varteks, leading them to the final of the Croatian Football Cup, before moving to Saudi Arabia in 2010. He managed Al-Faisaly, Al-Hilal, and Al-Ain, and took Al-Ain to the 2016 Asian Champions League final during his seven years there. What works for Dalic is his honest opinion about everything. In Croatia's opener against Nigeria, he sent striker Nikola Kalinic home after he refused to come on as a substitute. He took on Sampaoli post Croatia's 3-0 win over Argentina. Known for his knowledge of opposition players, Dalic was spot on when the Croatian midfield didn't give any space to star striker Harry Kane, who thrives in open spaces. © Reuters His move of moving Modric in a more attacking role has paid dividends at the World Cup, which has surprised everyone. The Croatian captain usually has a deeper lying role at Real Madrid. He has reinvented Eintracht Frankfurt's Ante Rebic, who is feisty when going forward. Having been a journeyman throughout his coaching career, he leads Croatia to their first World Cup final on Sunday against the much-fancied French brigade. And, what better way to have a perfect homecoming, than with the World Cup trophy in stow?