Champions League

Champions League: Atletico Madrid versus Leicester is fun but still the least exciting of the ties

The most explosive match-up of the round features some of the best young talent in the world.

The Champions League Round of 16 produced some incredibly exciting ties, chief amongst them the ouster of Manchester City by Monaco and the 6-1 thrashing of French champions PSG by Barcelona after having been mauled 4-0 themselves in Paris a fortnight earlier.

When the draw was made, there was definitely a sense of anticipation with European football’s heavyweights inevitably having made their way to the quarters along with a couple of hipsters in Borussia Dortmund and Monaco accompanied by perennial dark horses Atletico Madrid and surprise package Leicester City.

All four ties are intriguing and with a myriad of sub-plots, revenge stories and heavyweight clashes, fans are in for a fiesta over four fascinating matchdays. We rank the ties in increasing order of excitement value.

Atletico Madrid vs Leicester City: A battle of attrition

Sorry Leicester fans and neutrals to burst your bubble, but this is truly the most “boring” tie on the cards if such a tag can be attributed to any of the matches in the quarterfinals as the Foxes play a club which come closest to matching their own style, more so than any other team left in the tie.

Don Diego Simeone’s men scored four goals against Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, effectively sealing the tie in the first leg but promptly shut shop in the second, rather blatantly. Atletico’s all-action, tightly packed midfield and compact pressing will ensure that Leicester suffocate, which the former Argentine international wants them to do.

Of the teams in the final eight, Leicester haven’t been exactly expansive, scoring nine and conceding eight. They seemed to have turned a corner under Craig Shakespeare dispatching Sevilla in the previous round but Atleti are as tough as they come and expect them to be set-up to thwart any counters that Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and co. can throw at them.

Yet, a fairytale lives on through the last English team in the competition and anyone who is not a fan of the Spanish team will be hoping for another scalp to be added to a burgeoning scrapbook.

On an ominous note, two of Leicester’s three previous European campaigns have been ended by Atleti, who have never lost to English opposition.

Our pick: Atletico Madrid

Juventus vs Barcelona: Defence vs Attack

Comparison Matrix, via
Comparison Matrix, via

After their heroics in a 6-1 win abetted by some questionable refereeing, the Blaugrana will be hoping that their luck can hold up against the tightest team in all of Europe. Neymar may be the key to this contest as the Catalan giants lost their next game in the La Liga without their Brazilian sensation.

While PSG imploded, the same can frankly not be expected of Max Allegri’s side as they have conceded only two goals in the competition all season, not a case of shut shop, more of the hatches being iron-clad and air-tight.

Along with Gianluigi Buffon and the defensive unit of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli that is in front of him, the MSN trio which has scored 18 of the 26 goals for Barcelona may face more opposition than Xerxes and the Persian army faced off from Leonidas’ 300 at the Hot Gates.

Claudio Marchisio summed it up perfectly, “It will be completely different compared with the final in 2015. In Berlin it was a 90-minute match; now we have two games against Barcelona and we don’t have to think of it as a matter of revenge at all.” Dani Alves, let go by the Spanish giants, may have a thing or two to say about that though.

The 3-1 is a thing of the past, and with Juve making zero defensive errors in the continent, Barca’s rather porous backline is expected to be tested by Paulo Dybala and the rest. With Luis Enrique departing in the summer, Allegri may not be reading his lines only for Arsenal.

Our pick: Juventus

Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid: Return and revenge

"Nobody said it was easy."

On paper, the two most complete squads in the competition face off, sharing three of the previous four Champions League titles among themselves.

More interestingly, Carlo Ancelotti was in charge of Real Madrid when they thrashed the Bavarians 4-0 at the Allianz Arena en route to La Decima and has every reason to be upbeat, after watching his team maul Arsenal 10-2 in the pre-quarters.

He will be itching to set the record straight as will be Xabi Alonso, the midfielder retiring at the end of the season, having experienced a re-birth in Germany. Toni Kroos, Real’s German medio will also be facing off against his former employers.

Real are expansive but not without their flaws as they conceded twice against Napoli, Keylor Navas less than impressive between the sticks. With Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly not leading the charge in Europe, others like Sergio Ramos have stepped up to provide the goals for Los Merengues.

Bayern, ten points ahead of Red Bull Leipzig in the Bundesliga race, have only Thomas Mueller’s patchy form to worry about. Having been frugal in the league conceding only 13 in 24 games, they have been unusually leaky in this season’s competition, letting in a goal a game.

The winner of this tie may just be decisive in choosing this season’s victor.

Our pick: Bayern Munich

Borussia Dortmund vs Monaco: Recklessness re-defined

Comparison Matrix, via
Comparison Matrix, via

As predicted previously, Monaco vs Manchester City turned out to be a belter, and a classic at that. Monaco, certainly for their part did not disappoint, choosing to overwhelm Pep Guardiola’s side at home for a well-deserved victory.

The perfect tie may be a myth but in Borussia Dortmund and Monaco, you have two sides who have the best young talent in the business. With both willing to abandon defence in search for tidal wave after tidal wave of attack, these two games are expected to entertain.

Monaco, after years of splurging out big on continental class footballers, have seen a sudden spurt in talent at the Stade Louis, Fabinho, Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy the cynosure of the rest of Europe and indeed, some of the other teams in the quarters.

"Magical night at the Louis II. Qualification for the quarters."

For their part, Dortmund were Monaco before it became cool with the assembly line in Westphalia living up to an ever-burgeoning reputation with another bunch of cool kids in Christian Pulisic, Julian Weigl, Emre Mor and Raphael Guerreiro looking to upset the established order.

Chief amongst these youngsters, both of whom are likely to move for astronomical sums come July, are Dembele and Mbappe. The future of French football is enviable, and in rude health. It’s incredible to think that they are just 19 and 18, tearing up opposition defenders at will.

It would take a brave man to make a prediction here, and although they’re not the strongest teams left, no one will want to face the winner of these two legs in the semis.

Our pick: Monaco

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Removing the layers of complexity that weigh down mental health in rural India

Patients in rural areas of the country face several obstacles to get to treatment.

Two individuals, with sombre faces, are immersed in conversation in a sunlit classroom. This image is the theme across WHO’s 2017 campaign ‘Depression: let’s talk’ that aims to encourage people suffering from depression or anxiety to seek help and get assistance. The fact that depression is the theme of World Health Day 2017 indicates the growing global awareness of mental health. This intensification of the discourse on mental health unfortunately coincides with the global rise in mental illness. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people across the globe are suffering from depression, an increase of 18% between 2005 and 2015.

In India, the National Mental Health Survey of India, 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) revealed the prevalence of mental disorders in 13.7% of the surveyed population. The survey also highlighted that common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. Perhaps the most crucial finding from this survey is the disclosure of a huge treatment gap that remains very high in our country and even worse in rural areas.

According to the National Mental Health Programme, basic psychiatric care is mandated to be provided in every primary health centre – the state run rural healthcare clinics that are the most basic units of India’s public health system. The government provides basic training for all primary health centre doctors, and pays for psychiatric medication to be stocked and available to patients. Despite this mandate, the implementation of mental health services in rural parts of the country continues to be riddled with difficulties:

Attitudinal barriers

In some rural parts of the country, a heavy social stigma exists against mental illness – this has been documented in many studies including the NIMHANS study mentioned earlier. Mental illness is considered to be the “possession of an evil spirit in an individual”. To rid the individual of this evil spirit, patients or family members rely on traditional healers or religious practitioners. Lack of awareness on mental disorders has led to further strengthening of this stigma. Most families refuse to acknowledge the presence of a mental disorder to save themselves from the discrimination in the community.

Lack of healthcare services

The average national deficit of trained psychiatrists in India is estimated to be 77% (0.2 psychiatrists per 1,00,000 population) – this shows the scale of the problem across rural and urban India. The absence of mental healthcare infrastructure compounds the public health problem as many individuals living with mental disorders remain untreated.

Economic burden

The scarcity of healthcare services also means that poor families have to travel great distances to get good mental healthcare. They are often unable to afford the cost of transportation to medical centres that provide treatment.

After focussed efforts towards awareness building on mental health in India, The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), founded by Deepika Padukone, is steering its cause towards understanding mental health of rural India. TLLLF has joined forces with The Association of People with Disability (APD), a non-governmental organisation working in the field of disability for the last 57 years to work towards ensuring quality treatment for the rural population living with mental disorders.

APD’s intervention strategy starts with surveys to identify individuals suffering from mental illnesses. The identified individuals and families are then directed to the local Primary Healthcare Centres. In the background, APD capacity building programs work simultaneously to create awareness about mental illnesses amongst community workers (ASHA workers, Village Rehabilitation Workers and General Physicians) in the area. The whole complex process involves creating the social acceptance of mental health conditions and motivating them to approach healthcare specialists.

Participants of the program.
Participants of the program.

When mental health patients are finally free of social barriers and seeking help, APD also mobilises its network to make treatments accessible and affordable. The organisation coordinates psychiatrists’ visits to camps and local healthcare centres and ensures that the necessary medicines are well stocked and free medicines are available to the patients.

We spent a lot of money for treatment and travel. We visited Shivamogha Manasa and Dharwad Hospital for getting treatment. We were not able to continue the treatment for long as we are poor. We suffered economic burden because of the long- distance travel required for the treatment. Now we are getting quality psychiatric service near our village. We are getting free medication in taluk and Primary Healthcare Centres resulting in less economic stress.

— A parent's experience at an APD treatment camp.

In the two years TLLLF has partnered with APD, 892 and individuals with mental health concerns have been treated in the districts of Kolar, Davangere, Chikkaballapur and Bijapur in Karnataka. Over 4620 students participated in awareness building sessions. TLLLF and APD have also secured the participation of 810 community health workers including ASHA workers in the mental health awareness projects - a crucial victory as these workers play an important role in spreading awareness about health. Post treatment, 155 patients have resumed their previous occupations.

To mark World Mental Health Day, 2017, a team from TLLLF lead by Deepika Padukone visited program participants in the Davengere district.

Sessions on World Mental Health Day, 2017.
Sessions on World Mental Health Day, 2017.

In the face of a mental health crisis, it is essential to overcome the treatment gap present across the country, rural and urban. While awareness campaigns attempt to destigmatise mental disorders, policymakers need to make treatment accessible and cost effective. Until then, organisations like TLLLF and APD are doing what they can to create an environment that acknowledges and supports people who live with mental disorders. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.