EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Barcelona may be out of the Champions League but they’re no spent force yet

The Catalan giants are experts at the shrewd art of extending their success cycle at the top.

Sir Alex Ferguson once said that the game of football ran in cycles and Manchester United knew when other teams ran out of their time in the sun. What he didn’t predict was how long those cycles could go on for. And that is where Barcelona as a club have shown their ability to stretch out their period of success. More so than any other team in recent memory.

On Wednesday night, the Catalans crashed out of the Champions League quarter-finals, merely weeks after scripting one of the greatest comebacks of their history when they overturned a 4-0 deficit against PSG to progress into the next stages of premier European football. But even with this defeat, Barcelona showed that they weren’t the spent force that everyone thought they were.

Since Pep Guardiola exited the stage at Camp Nou, there has always been talk that the years of domination that Barcelona enjoyed are set to be a thing of the past. Yet time and again, they showcase an ability to challenge these notions and rise above.

Extending their success cycle

This might be, in part, down to their pragmatism. Barcelona, a club known for its beautiful way of playing football, is not only about that. They have shown a level of shrewdness, missing in other top clubs. And that shrewdness has helped them extend their success cycle at the top.

Take into account some of their ex-players. Any club that loses Xavi Hernandez, Victor Valdes and Dani Alves would find it extremely hard to replace them and still attempt to compete in the higher echelons of the game. Yet Barcelona have not only done so, but thrived.

Guardiola’s success has almost been matched by current manager Luis Enrique. Neymar will be a worthy replacement to Lionel Messi. And in order to tide over the times when their youth system isn’t producing enough talent, there will always be a Luis Suarez in the market. Time and again Barcelona have showcased their ability to pre-empt a problem by recognising a situation and preparing for it beforehand.

So now that they have lost to Juventus this time around, there will be more chattering about how they are a spent force. But Barcelona being Barcelona know that the club’s golden period is waning but not completely over. Lionel Messi, an extraordinary player might lose a step or two in the coming years, but he still will be one of the best in the world. An 11 out of 10 player will still be a 9 out of 10 at best when he/she starts to fade. And Messi is no different. One look at how Andres Iniesta’s last couple of years have been managed by Barcelona show that much like a Manchester United that squeezed every last bit of football from the Class of 92, Barcelona have shown success in doing the same.

A bright future

The club’s future lies in great hands as players like Suarez, Neymar and Gerard Pique hit their prime. Yes, they might not enjoy the same level of success that they did but Barcelona will remain a team that is hard to beat purely on their reputation as an elite team in Europe. And that is down to their top notch organisation from the youth levels to their senior team and everything in between. Football clubs will be successful but the Blaugrana has shown the world how to be successful for longer periods than anyone else.

And as for Juventus – they are now one of the three teams who have successfully relegated Barcelona to no goals in a two-legged tie in the knockout stages of the Champions League. The other two teams, Manchester United in 2007-‘08 and Bayern Munich in 2012-‘13 went on to win the Champions League.

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Young Indians now like their traditional food with a twist

Indian food with international influences is here to stay.

With twenty-nine states and over 50 ethnic groups, India’s diversity is mind-boggling to most foreigners. This diversity manifests itself across areas from clothing to art and especially to food. With globalisation, growth of international travel and availability of international ingredients, the culinary diversity of India has become progressively richer.

New trends in food are continuously introduced to the Indian palate and are mainly driven by the demands of generation Y. Take the example of schezwan idlis and dosas. These traditional South Indian snacks have been completely transformed by simply adding schezwan sauce to them – creating a dish that is distinctly Indian, but with an international twist. We also have the traditional thepla transformed into thepla tacos – combining the culinary flavours of India and Mexico! And cous cous and quinoa upma – where niche global ingredients are being used to recreate a beloved local dish. Millennials want a true fusion of foreign flavours and ingredients with Indian dishes to create something both Indian and international.

So, what is driving these changes? Is it just the growing need for versatility in the culinary experiences of millennials? Or is it greater exposure to varied cultures and their food habits? It’s a mix of both. Research points to the rising trend to seek out new cuisines that are not only healthy, but are also different and inspired by international flavours.

The global food trend of ‘deconstruction’ where a food item is broken down into its component flavours and then reconstructed using completely different ingredients is also catching on for Indian food. Restaurants like Masala Library (Mumbai), Farzi Café (Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru) and Pink Poppadum (Bengaluru) are pushing the boundaries of what traditional Indian food means. Things like a kulcha pizza, dal chaawal cutlet and chutney foam are no longer inconceivable. Food outlets that stock exotic ingredients and brands that sell traditional Indian packaged snacks in entirely new flavours are also becoming more common across cities.

When it comes to the flavours themselves, some have been embraced more than others. Schezwan sauce, as we’ve mentioned, is now so popular that it is sometimes even served with traditional chakna at Indian bars. Our fascination with the spicy red sauce is however slowly being challenged by other flavours. Wasabi introduced to Indian foodies in Japanese restaurants has become a hit among spice loving Indians with its unique kick. Peri Peri, known both for its heat and tanginess, on the other hand was popularised by the famous UK chain Nandos. And finally, there is the barbeque flavour – the condiment has been a big part of India’s love for American fast food.

Another Indian snack that has been infused with international flavours is the beloved aloo bhujia. While the traditional gram-flour bhujia was first produced in 1877 in the princely state of Bikaner in Rajasthan, aloo bhujia came into existence once manufacturers started experimenting with different flavours. Future Consumer Limited’s leading food brand Tasty Treat continues to experiment with the standard aloo bhujia to cater to the evolving consumer tastes. Keeping the popularity of international flavours in mind, Tasty Treat’s has come up with a range of Firangi Bhujia, an infusion of traditional aloo bhujia with four of the most craved international flavours – Wasabi, Peri Peri, Barbeque and Schezwan.

Tasty Treat’s range of Firangi Bhujia has increased the versatility of the traditional aloo bhujia. Many foodies are already trying out different ways to use it as a condiment to give their favourite dish an extra kick. Archana’s Kitchen recommends pairing the schezwan flavoured Firangi Bhujia with manchow soup to add some crunch. Kalyan Karmakar sprinkled the peri peri flavoured Firangi Bhujia over freshly made poha to give a unique taste to a regular breakfast item. Many others have picked a favourite amongst the four flavours, some admiring the smoky flavour of barbeque Firangi Bhujia and some enjoying the fiery taste of the peri peri flavour.

Be it the kick of wasabi in the crunch of bhujia, a bhujia sandwich with peri peri zing, maska pav spiced with schezwan bhujia or barbeque bhujia with a refreshing cold beverage - the new range of Firangi Bhujia manages to balance the novelty of exotic flavours with the familiarity of tradition. To try out Tasty Treat’s Firangi Bhujia, find a store near you.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Tasty Treat and not by the Scroll editorial team.