Champions League

No chance Zlatan will play Champions League group stage, says Jose Mourinho

The Manchester United manager does not expect to be able to call upon the Swedish striker until next year.

Jose Mourinho does not know when Zlatan Ibrahimovic will return to action, but he has ruled him out of Manchester United’s Champions League group games.

Ibrahimovic, 35, rejoined United on a one-season contract earlier this week, four months after undergoing career-saving knee ligament surgery.

But while the Swedish striker has been busy talking up his return on social media, Mourinho does not expect to be able to call upon him until next year.

“He will not be ready for the group phase of the Champion League,” said Mourinho, whose side face Benfica, Basel and CSKA Moscow in Group A. “I don’t think there is any chance of that. I’m not thinking Zlatan to play any part of the group phase. Hopefully he can play in the knockout phase, but for that we need to finish top two. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t even ask, speak about it or with the medical team about it.”

He added, “[Zlatan] will be an extra man for us in the second part of the season. When I say second part, we say January, after Christmas, when the transfer window re-opens, but I have no idea at all.”

Ibrahimovic, who scored 28 goals in his first Old Trafford campaign, had been linked with a move to Major League Soccer and Mourinho said his desire to rejoin United showed his ambition was fully intact.

“It shows two things for me: it shows me the dimension of the player and the club,” the United manager told reporters at the club’s training centre in Carrington, west of Manchester on Friday.

“The player, it would be very easy for him to say goodbye. He had success at Man United, goodbye. He doesn’t do that. He wants to follow his other dreams and play football at the highest level.”

He added, “And a club like Man United in my opinion has to show how big it is in details and this is a big detail of a player that gets injured with the Man United shirt, fighting for Man United. The club has to be there for him and I’m really happy with club and player.”

Champions League warning

Mourinho paid tribute to former United captain Wayne Rooney, who announced his retirement from the England team this week, and revealed he was in touch with the striker on the eve of his announcement.

“He told me the night before,” said Mourinho. “I am nobody to agree, don’t agree. I just listen to his reasons and I understand his reasons. He does it for Everton, for his family, so I have no complaints.

He added, “I just realise like many other people when he retires, you realise how many matches he played, goals he scored, the football he represents in this country. Many congratulations for his career with the [Three] Lions.”

Mourinho also reacted to Thursday’s Champions League draw and said United’s group would not be as easy as some pundits seem to think.

“My reaction is of somebody who played 120 matches in the Champions League and it’s a completely different reaction than the reactions I listen to,” he said. “I think when you think about qualifying, it’s better to have two top teams and two weak teams and let’s see if we can finish second or first, but we are qualified.”

He added, “In this kind of group, everyone can win, lose, draw, and we are going to share the points in between teams. You are not going to see a 4-0 or 5-0, a team with 13, 14, 16 points, another with zero or one. So I think it’s a dangerous group and if you go to the recent history of Man United, they lost to Basel [in 2011] and could not beat Benfica in two matches [in 2011]. I think also against CSKA Moscow the last time was 0-0 or 1-0 or something (a 1-0 win in November 2015).”

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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.