Champions League

Gonzalo Higuain powers Juventus to a 2-0 win over Monaco in Champions League semis

Italian champions outclassed the French side in the first-leg semi-final at the Stade Louis II.

Two-goal hero Gonzalo Higuain urged his Juventus teammates to keep their feet on the ground after a brilliant 2-0 win in Monaco on Wednesday that left them on the brink of the Champions League final.

Argentine striker Higuain was set up by Dani Alves to open the scoring in the 29th minute and then converted an Alves cross just before the hour as Juve claimed a seemingly decisive victory in the semi-final first leg at the Stade Louis II.

The Italian champions have the final in Cardiff on June 3 in their sights, with a showdown against holders Real Madrid, Higuain’s former side, looking probable.

“The dream we have been pursuing since August has been to get to Cardiff and we are just one step away,” said Higuain, who was applauded off by the home support in Monaco.

He now has 31 goals this season following his 90 million-euro ($98 million) transfer from Napoli, helping Juve close on a potential treble.

Higuain, who ended a seven-game run without scoring in the Champions League knockout stages, added: “We have not won anything yet, so we mustn’t get carried away. I always kept calm. I knew everyone had faith in me and that hard work is always rewarded in the end.”

Juventus were immense in all areas against a Monaco side who have lit up Europe this season with their brand of attacking football.

Buffon still going strong

The hosts found the Juve defence to be impermeable, with Gianluigi Buffon majestic as ever in goal.

The 39-year-old, making his 149th European appearance, denied Kylian Mbappe and Radamel Falcao in the first half and produced a stunning fingertip stop from Valere Germain late on.

Juventus, who welcome Monaco to Turin for the second leg next Tuesday, have now gone over 10 hours without conceding in the Champions League and Buffon has kept clean sheets in all five matches in the knockout rounds.

“In every game I want to show that I deserve to play at this level despite my age. I work hard every day for this. The day I quit, I want people to be sad about it,” remarked Buffon, twice a beaten finalist in the Champions League. “We had the right approach. They are a fearsome team and the only way to beat them was playing the way we did.”

Buffon also praised coach Massimiliano Allegri for his decision to bring Andrea Barzagli into a three-man defence, thwarting Monaco’s attack and allowing Dani Alves to wreak havoc down the right.

“Gigi showed that he is still a great goalkeeper. He always does it in big games, and Higuain scored two lovely goals. But to get results everyone needs to work hard. You need to make sacrifices and track back and he did that too,” said Allegri.

Juventus could wrap up a record sixth consecutive Serie A title this weekend, when they face city rivals Torino, while Lazio await in the Italian Cup final.

To put their performance in the principality into context, Monaco had won their previous 13 home games and scored in 41 consecutive matches at the Stade Louis II since November 2015.

“They were more clinical than us — with two or three chances they scored and we couldn’t put any of ours away. Buffon made some incredible saves,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim.

He missed marauding Benjamin Mendy at left-back and now Monaco must attempt to become just the third team ever to overturn a home first-leg deficit in the Champions League.

“It is difficult but we need to keep believing. The best thing is to believe it is possible, even if we only have a five percent chance.”

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.