Listen back to the highlights of Wednesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast. Alan Brazil and Micky Quinn were joined on today’s show by Sven-Goran Eriksson, Mark Bosnich and Julio Arca.
0Shares0000Kylian Mbappe has retained his sparkling World Cup form for France © AFP/File / FRANCK FIFEPARIS, France, Nov 14 – World Cup winners France, Eden Hazard’s Belgium and a fast-improving Netherlands under Ronald Koeman could all book places in the finals of the Nations League in matches between Thursday and Tuesday.The competition, UEFA’s bid to move away from meaningless friendly matches, has divided opinion in its inaugural season. The strongest sides will qualify for the finals next June, but all 16 group winners will get a place in the Euro 2020 qualification playoffs.However, if those nations have already qualified for Euro 2020 through normal qualifying, the best-ranked team from a lower group will be drafted in.Qualifying for Euro 2020 does not begin until next March.France on brink of qualificationKylian Mbappe can carry world champions France into the finals on Friday with a draw against the resurgent Netherlands in Rotterdam.“We are going there for the win,” coach Didier Deschamps warned. “We are the world champions and we will behave like it.”France beat the Dutch 2-1 in September after PSG star Mbappe scored the opener and Chelsea target man Olivier Giroud clinched the three points after Ryan Babel had equalised.Since then the Netherlands have thrashed Germany 3-0 and drew 1-1 in Belgium. Koeman is rebuilding the Dutch squad that failed to reach this year’s World Cup with rookie striker Arnaut Groeneveld, a 21-year-old Nigerian-born winger, and Justin Kluivert, son of Patrick, two exciting new faces.Two of the world’s best defenders also go head-to-head as Real Madrid’s Ballon d’Or contender Rafael Varane will line up for France and Liverpool’s blockbuster signing, Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk, will marshall his backline.Deschamps will be missing stars Paul Pogba and Benjamin Mendy but has recalled Moussa Sissoko, the versatile Tottenham man who was one of their stars in their run to the Euro 2016 final.Not the Germany of oldMidfielder Leroy Sane was left out their World Cup squad © AFP/File / Tobias SCHWARZGermany have struggled to put a disastrous World Cup behind them and face the prospect of relegation from Group A1 having taken a solitary point so far.They have to beat the Netherlands in Gelsenkirchen on Monday to avoid dropping down a division.Few observers expect Germany to fail to book their ticket to Euro 2020 through the normal qualifying process, but their form has done nothing to boost their flagging morale.Coach Joachim Loew, who retained his job despite the first-round World Cup exit, has begun to dispense with the 2014 World Cup-winning players including Jerome Boateng and bring in fresh blood like Manchester City’s Leroy Sane.The incentive for the Dutch is clear: two wins will see them into next year’s finals.Belgium keeping formHazard’s Belgium, the side that were only stopped at the World Cup by France, will reach the finals with a Group A2 win against Switzerland in Lucerne on Sunday. In fact, a draw would be enough if the Belgians avoid defeat against Iceland on Thursday.Croatia seek revenge on SpainWorld Cup finalists Croatia are hunting a first Nations League win when they host Spain, with revenge foremost in their minds after losing 6-0 to them in September.“We are in much better shape than then. It was a debacle and we need to look for revenge… with three points,” their coach Zlatko Dalic said.The goalless Group A4 draw against England was played behind closed doors, so the game in Zagreb will be the first time Luka Modric has run out in front of a home crowd since inspiring Croatia to the World Cup final, a feat that makes him favourite to win the Ballon d’Or next month.After a superb year that also landed him the FIFA player of the year award, the Real Madrid midfielder is nearing full fitness, Dalic said.“He is the leader and he will be at a high level,” the coach said.Love it or loathe itLiverpool’s Jurgen Klopp calls the Nations League a “senseless” competition comparable to making a prize heavyweight box every night.But Germany’s Loew likes it, saying: “Competition is preferable to playing against small nations.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
MONTMELO, Spain — Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton looked poised to extend their dominance of Formula One after clocking the fastest laps in practice for the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday.Ferrari fast-tracked a new engine and brought in other updates during the two-week break since the Mercedes pair claimed their fourth consecutive one-two finish in Azerbaijan. But Hamilton and Bottas were still faster than their Ferrari rivals.Bottas posted the top times in both sessions under sunny and warm conditions at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, lowering his own mark from the morning session.Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland sits in the garage during the first free practice at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, just outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, May 10, 2019. The Formula One race will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)Five-time and defending champion Hamilton was a sliver behind, at 0.049 seconds slower.Charles Leclerc had the third best time in his Ferrari, followed by teammate and former champion Sebastian Vettel.More menacing for Ferrari is that Vettel and Leclerc were faster than Hamilton and Bottas in practice at Azerbaijan, only to finish behind them both on race day.Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said even though his team is struggling to catch Mercedes they aren’t giving up.Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco prepares at his garage, prior to the start of the second free practice at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, just outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, May 10, 2019. The Formula One race will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)“Certainly we are not happy for the points we have scored so far,” Binotto said. “We’ve still got a good car. The competition is very strong, which is not a surprise. But we are still in the battle.”Bottas leads defending champion Hamilton by one point overall. Vettel is 35 points behind Bottas in third place.Hamilton has won the Spanish GP three times, including the last two years.Ferrari and the rest of the field could take a glimmer of hope from Bottas having to box for an apparent leak and Hamilton telling the team radio at one point that he was “struggling.”Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco leads his teammate Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany during the first free practice at the Barcelona Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, just outside Barcelona, Spain, Friday, May 10, 2019. The Formula One race will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)Otherwise, Mercedes appears ready to extend its record start for a two-car team in F1 after sweeping the first two spots in all four races.Max Verstappen had the fifth best time despite losing time due to mechanical issues with his Red Bull.The young Belgian also provided a scare to Bottas in the morning, when Verstappen flew through a curve and almost rammed into the Finn. Verstappen slammed on the brakes in time, before shaking his fist at Bottas.Verstappen, the only non-Mercedes driver to win the Spanish GP in the past five years, had to come into the garage for an apparent leak. He also complained later he was losing power when he tried to accelerate.The first session ended under a red flag after Lance Stroll clipped some grass, lost control and plowed his Racing Point into the barrier. Stroll walked away and was back out on the track once team mechanics patched up his crunched car.As for the lowly Williams, it seems there is no relief in store after Robert Kubica and George Russell finished at the bottom of the time sheet, around three seconds slower that the pacesetter. Kubica did do well to keep his car off the wall when he went off course early in the afternoon session.There will be a third practice on Saturday before qualifying. The race is on Sunday.By: Joseph Wilson, Associated PressTweetPinShare0 Shares
Taaq, which stands for Thermal and A Quarter, was formed by three Malyalees in Bangalore 15 years back. Over the years, they have carved a niche of its own amongst the many rock bands in India. Now, having played all over India, and also in the US, UK, West Asia, China and southeast Asia and having released four studio albums and several singles, Taaq was in the Capital to launch their fifth studio album — Three Wheels Nine Lives — at Hard Rock Café. The three Taaq members — Bruce Lee Mani, Rajeev Rajagopal and Prakash KN — started it of as a college band in 1996. Since then, Taaq has been known to deliver unforgettable, immersive musical performances. Talking about the new album Rajeev says: ‘There is no single theme for the album. It’s a mixed bag. It’s a pretty massive album with 28 songs.’ ‘This album is one of the largest bodies of work created for one album. The songs deal with various subjects starting from adventures one has on getting into an auto rickshaw and the meter problems we all face, which unites us all Indians,’ he added. The band members say that they have never let the legacy of Bangalore city drain out of their music system in spite of the many Western instruments they might play. ‘Outside India, our music is known to be exotic and not Western. In India, people think if we are playing rock that means aping the West. But none of us have ever been trained in Western instruments or music,’ explains Rajeev. The band played numbers from their new album. Delhi is known to have their largest fan base, so they didn’t want to disappoint them by playing only the old numbers. Viva la Bangalore, we would say!
Someone once quipped that the “universal aptitude for ineptitude makes any human accomplishment an incredible miracle” and devoted book readers know it too well. Any of the (sadly-diminishing) tribe would be familiar with responses of wonder over the fact that they manage to read even a modestly-long work in a day or two. Wonder what these amazed people would make of a book termed a “doorstopper”? “Doorstoppers” are books so thick and heavy that they can be used to keep doors open – or even be a literary weapon, literally. The irrepressible TVTropes.org, which also suggests they can be a substitute for barbells or an opportunity for orthopaedists, says “Proper Doorstoppers” (also known as “Tree Killers”) should be over 500 pages at least, with a normal typeface – at least 10 point. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfA distinction needs to be drawn with “Omnibus” editions, which usually bring a trilogy, or complete works of an author into one. While technically a “doorstopper”, they are not, for this term is for one particular work, which per TVTropes, “can and will cause massive muscle fatigue when reading while holding the book in your hands”.While religious scriptures – or their exegeses – dictionaries, encyclopaedias, most textbooks, especially computer programming, accountancy, biology, et al, are doorstoppers, let’s see some notable examples from both classical and popular literature. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveThough English has some of the most well-known examples – Charles Dickens, Margaret “Gone With the Wind” Mitchell, J.R.R. Tolkien (save “The Hobbit” and “The Silmarillion”), J.K. Rowling (“The Order of the Phoenix” onwards), the phenomenon is present in literary traditions across the world – Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, among many others and much old.Marcel Proust’s “A la Recherche du Temps Perdu” (“Remembrance of Things Past” or “In Search of Lost Time” now, 1913-27 in French) about his childhood and adulthood experiences in late 19th century/early 20th century France, holds the Guinness records title of longest novel with its one and a half million words. The author was still adding to it and revising the last three volumes at the time of his death, leading to the possibility it could have well emerged longer. However, Mark Leach’s “Marienbad My Love” (2013), about a tortured (mentally) author on a desert island reaching out to a married ex-lover to help him produce a science fiction film, claims to be the world’s longest novel, with over 17 million words, over 10,000 pages across 17 volumes. The novel’s title is itself 6,700 words long, it contains a 4.4-million-letter noun as well as a three million-word-long sentence.Persian poet Ferdowsi’s “The Shahnameh”, about Iranian history from the world’s creation to the Islamic age, in an abridged English prose translation runs close to 1,000 pages and, according to the introduction, a current full English verse translation is nine volumes long. Japanese epic “The Tale of Genji”, varies by language and translator, but one copy is 1,090 pages long. And many classic Chinese novels are in the 2,000-page range – Luo Guanzhong’s 14th century epic “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, about war, turmoil, and bloodshed in the eponymous period (188-280 AD) runs to over 2,300 pages.So does the 16th century “Journey to the West” about Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang’s pilgrimage to India to study Buddhism and obtain accurate copies of religious texts and the exploits of his three supernatural co-travellers and protectors, especially “The Monkey King”, while Cao Xueqin’s 18th century “Dream of the Red Chamber”, about the decline of a noble family is shorter – at only 1,800-odd pages.Russians were quite famous for this At 1,200 pages, Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, about Russian nobility before and during Napoleon’s invasion, is a prime example, while Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” is well over 500 pages and “The Brothers Karamazov” anything between 720 to 1,013 pages, depending on the translation. It must, however, be noted that the authors were paid by the page.French authors too remain masters – Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”, is affectionately called “The Brick” by its admirers, and has a detailed description of a crack in the wall, through which a character looks, spanning a page and a half – in the condensed version.Indians too figure, with Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy” being over 1,500 pages and Vikram Chandra’s “Sacred Games” at around 1,100.Though, technology has now enabled even a huge doorstopper to easily fit on a light, handy, smartphone or e-reader, determined bookworms from the dawn of publishing to well into the 20th century – and even now – never hesitated to carry around weighty tomes on journeys, to work and otherwise, giving the phrase “active readers” a whole new meaning. Whoever says book reading is a lazy activity, should try to read these.