international football

Super Cup: Barcelona look to prove that they can be deadly even without Neymar

There’ as Barcelona and Real Madrid ready themselves for the Spanish Super Cup

Barcelona host Real Madrid in the Spanish football season’s opening act in the Super Cup, first leg on Sunday (20:00 GMT) needing to dispel doubts they have fallen further behind their rivals following Neymar’s departure.

The Brazilian’s world record €222 million euro (Rs 1681 crore) move to Paris Saint-Germain just days before the start of the campaign deprives a Barca side that missed out to Madrid for the Spanish title for the first time in five years last season one of their most dangerous weapons.

Barca’s immediate attempts to find a replacement in Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund have so far fallen short.

New Barca coach Ernesto Valverde therefore has a tactical conundrum on his Camp Nou bow to fill the void alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez up front.

And influential defender Gerard Pique admitted Barca must compensate for Neymar’s absence collectively rather than looking for a saviour in the transfer market.

“More than replacing him, we have to make ourselves stronger. There isn’t a replacement for Neymar in the market,” said Pique, who also recognised on Saturday his desperate attempts at talking Neymar out of moving had failed.

Pique is hoping Barca will be motivated by the pain of missing out to Madrid for the biggest titles last season as Real also became the first side to retain the Champions League.

“When your rivals win more than you, you have to turn the situation around,” added Pique.

“History shows we have known how to do that, but history also shows you can’t always win.”

Recent clashes between the two do favour Barca. The last time the sides met in competitive action back in April the Catalans emerged victorious at the Santiago Bernabeu even without the then suspended Neymar as Messi won an incredible encounter 3-2 with the last kick of the game.

Barca also edged last month’s Miami friendly between the two in Neymar’s last game for Barca 3-2.

“The friendly game during the tour is a reference point,” said Valverde. “But it is different now there is a title at stake.”

Gerard Deulofeu scored and provided two assists in just 45 minutes in Neymar’s role as Barca completed their pre-season preparations by sweeping aside Chapecoense 5-0 on Monday.

However, Valverde also has the option to strengthen Barca’s midfield by sacrificing a forward to add Sergi Roberto to the normal midfield three of Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta.

Ronaldo ‘ready’ to return

Madrid’s relentless winning streak under Zinedine Zidane continued in midweek as Los Blancos beat Manchester United 2-1 to win the UEFA Super Cup 2-1.

Casemiro and Isco were on target as Madrid’s midfield dazzled in Skopje, Macedonia, but Zidane will be forced into at least one change from the side that started in midweek as Luka Modric is suspended.

Mateo Kovacic is the favourite to replace his Croatian teammate in midfield.

However, Modric’s absence increases Cristiano Ronaldo’s chances of returning to the Madrid starting XI after making just a brief cameo appearance as a substitute against his former club in Macedonia.

Ronaldo only returned to training with his teammates last weekend on their return from a tour of the USA having been given an extended break following Portugal’s participation in the Confederations Cup and a court appearance in Madrid over allegations of tax evasion.

“He had his holiday and has been with us only five or six days, but physically he worked very hard during his holidays and he is ready,” said Zidane.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), 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. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

Play

During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. 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.