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JV
Posted on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 07:34 pm:   

England beats Portugal, no problem. Maybe 2-0. (Sorry Luis.) Beckham pukes on cue.

Brazil finally meets a good defense and they lose to France, 2-1. Rinaldo jukes out his own fat with too complicated a move and his whole stomach area splatters the fans in the bleachers.

Germany wins the whole thing. But not in anything approaching "pretty".

JeffV
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 12:11 am:   

I would like to see that last prediction come true.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 06:18 am:   

I agree with Jeff, with only slight adjustments, maybe a 2-1 win for England and, in a frenzy of optimism, a thrilling 3-2 victory for France in what may be remembered as one of the greatest world cup games of all time!
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 07:23 am:   

Brazil....! and England.
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Forrest Aguirre
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 02:32 pm:   

Germany all the way after a World War-reminiscent routing of the French. Switzerland watches from the sidelines, and nobody really cares about Italy or Portugal.
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JV
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 08:31 pm:   

Actually, I now think the French look damn impressive.

JeffV
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ben peek
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 08:41 pm:   

i'm actually thinking it'll be the young fascists (germany) all the way. i don't think they're fascists, mind, but for some unknown reason i think it fits them :-)
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Luís
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 08:50 pm:   

Sure, Jeff, 2-0, no problem. :-) I'm sorry to see Brazil go, although I have to admit that the French improved substantially since the first round.

Luís
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 08:51 pm:   

Anybody but the facists....er, Germans.
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ben peek
Posted on Saturday, July 01, 2006 - 10:30 pm:   

it's just catchy, isn't it ;)
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neil w
Posted on Sunday, July 02, 2006 - 02:29 am:   

This is great - it's just so open. I think a Germany v France final looks on the cards but it could be any 2 from 4.

I thought France really deserved their win yesterday too.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 02, 2006 - 05:27 am:   

France totally outplayed Brazil. B looked as if they were entitlled to a goal and were waiting for God to provide it. If they can get up to that level again, they should beat Portugal. The way Zhidane's playing, I expect he'll push them to it.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Sunday, July 02, 2006 - 05:17 pm:   

I'm starting to think the Italians might just do it after all. Or maybe Germany. Or maybe France. Or maybe Portu... No, there's no way, surely, Portugal can win. Is there?

It's far too open!

But, hold on. Let's complain. There's not been enough goals in this world cup. It's a goal drought. We need more goals!
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 02, 2006 - 05:29 pm:   

With Italy-Germany, I'm sure there'll be a scoring explosion..... :-)
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neil williamson
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 01:28 am:   

You're right, Alastair - there's not been enough goals, dammit.

And I can't see it changing from here on in I'm afraid. Semi-finals are notoriously tight, edgy, nervous affairs.

But then again, this has also been a difficult tournament to predict, so...fingers crossed!
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JV
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 07:31 am:   

I like France to win at this point. They're willing to take chances and are playing with confidence.

jeffV
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Monday, July 03, 2006 - 01:08 pm:   

France's progress has been amazing when you think about how slow they were to start. They look very strong now. I really like this player Ribery they have. You feel like anything can happen when he's around.

I think you're right about the semis, Neil. They'll more than likely be tight. Still, there have been one or two exceptions over the years, so you never know. That semi between West Germany and France in Spain '82 comes to mind. One of the best games ever.
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neil williamson
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 01:39 am:   

We can but hope, Alistair. Although - great as that 82 semi was, I think we can do without a repeat of Harald Schumacher's assault on Patrick Battiston - surely one of the most incredible unpunished fouls in the history of the game.

Ribery is good though. Wasn't so impressed with him in the first couple of games (but that could go for all the French team), but he's really come on to it now, hasn't he?
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 03:23 am:   

Yes, Schumacher's assault on Battiston was unreal. And didn't Battiston end up with a couple of broken vertebrae in his neck as a result? It was brutal.

I wonder if Ribery's inclusion in the French squad is the reason why Giuly was left out. So it's maybe not such a strange move after all, leaving out Giuly. And they also left out another player of note, Mexes, who plays for Roma and has been quite superb this past year.
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neil williamson
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 03:42 am:   

Battiston yep, I think he did break a couple vertebrae, as well as being knocked unconscious and losing a couple of teeth.

The thing about France's selection policy is - if they have a successful tournament (and getting to the semi-finals at least is pretty successful), then they've chosen the right men for the job. If they win it, I bet even Giuly and Mexes will be cheering them on.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 04:54 am:   

Yes, they've done so well already that they've really justified their selection, no doubt. And France have a bit of a history of leaving out great talent, mainly because they have so much of it. There were a lot of people baffled when Eric Cantona was left out of the France squad some years ago, remember? but then it turned out they had Zidane playing in the same position!

What about tonight's game? Maybe we should engage in a bit of reverse vibe-ology. Let's predict a long and tedious 120 minutes of goalless football, followed by an incredibly undramatic penality shoot-out, with Italy going through because that's the kind of thing they do anyway. Surely it'll be the dullest affair in the whole of world cup history. Why even bother watching? :-)
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neil williamson
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 05:52 am:   

That's it - it's the Glasgow writer's circle tonight anyway, so I'll miss most of the normal time play. I may as well suggest we go to the pub just in time for the undramatic penalties. And talk loudly about science fiction all the way through them.
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 06:19 am:   

I think Italy is going to take more chances and has more team speed than Germany. I think they might even make Germany look a bit silly, frankly.

France will rout Portugal.

I don't know who to pick in France versus Italy.

JeffV
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 06:49 am:   

Umm. Don't worry Jeff, you won't need to since the Italian team will be watching the game from their living rooms :-)

Anyhow, we will find out in 5 hours and 12 mins.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 06:51 am:   

My above comment referred to the hypothetical game between France and Italy, if it wasn't clear.

I will back France over Germany though, for the final game.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 07:06 am:   

Jeff, didn't you say Germany all the way?

I'm picking Italy and France, FWIW.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 02:35 pm:   

Well, the only bright side is now I can whole-heartedly back France :-(
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 03:43 pm:   

I changed my mind!! LOL!

But I think France now.

Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 03:56 pm:   

Fair enough...Italy, with that D, is going to tough for either France or Portugal. What impressed me was hiw often the Italians were able to steal the ball cleanly from the Germans without tackling. Very skillful. They seemed to take it from Ballack at will.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 10:47 pm:   

The thing that bothers me about the Italians is how they always pretend to be hurt. It is part of their strategy.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2006 - 10:52 pm:   

I beginning to understand that acting is part of soccer. Portugal was ridiculous in the quarters. Ballack had some world class dives today. It's pretty damn ubiquitous...
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 12:20 am:   

Yes, but Italy is renown for it. They certainly did it more than Germany - at least much more theatrically.
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neil williamson
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 01:34 am:   

I think the diving and rolling and acting is *seen* as part of the acceptable culture of the game in some parts of the world, but not everywhere. Every now and then when an Italian player, say, joins a British team and tries the whole rolling about on the grass thing they're treated to a round of boos - by their own fans. We just don't like that sort of thing at all, and - call us naive - are much more likely to admire a player who battles on with a broken leg on the losing side, than someone who falls over when an opponent breathes at him the wrong way and secures us a winning penalty.

Generally speaking they learn to cut the silly stuff out of their game and play according to the culture of the country they're playing in. And sometimes that attitude sticks. Watching the Italian midfielder Gatusso, I think you can still tell that he spent his formative years playing in Scotland.

Back to the subject though - I was surprised at how open and flowing the game ways. There was no thought of playing it safe and hoping to luck out on the penalties. In fact the thought of penalties likely galvanised the Italians to score their excellent last minute goals. They have a terrible record from spot kicks.

France should do it tonight - but you never know!
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 06:56 am:   

Since this was supposed to be the year FIFA cracked down on "cheats" (meaning shirt pullers and cynical foulers) wouldn't it be amusing to see an Italy vs. Portugal final? As my wife's grandfather said of the Italians yesterday, "Some of these guys could get work on Broadway." That goes double for Portugal.

Great game yesterday regardless. Germany lost its legs, perhaps as a result of having gone to penalties against Argentina. I think they had the better opportunities over the first 90 minutes but flagged as the game went on. Most of the games in the latter stages have been real chess matches and even though they're not played at 100 mph, they've been fun to watch.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 07:10 am:   

Italy-Portugal would be a theater-goers dream.

That was a great game. And yes, Germany had the better chances, especially in the first half, but I always felt that Italy would win, that they were inherently the more dangerous team. I was very impressed with how they handled Ballack and, for the most part, Klose. But those OT periods were outstanding. More!
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 07:32 am:   

I went to a concert last night and missed the initial 90 minutes of the game. The concert was in a piazza in a fairly small town and, when it finished, everyone spilled out and went to another piazza where they were showing the game on a big screen. The extra-time just started when we arrived, so the timing was pretty good, but I wish I'd seen the whole game. The celebrations were great, though. Talk about theatrical!

This France v Portugal game certainly has France as favourites. But I don't know. Portugal are no push over. The might surprise us, though France do seem to have an aura of invincibility about them. I'm looking forward to a head to head between Figo and Zidane, two greats of the game battling it out for a last burst of glory.

Let's hope for more drama like last night.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 12:51 pm:   

This France-Portugal game is pretty good so far. Zidane and Ribery are great to watch. And Portugal are playing some great football but just seem to lack something up front.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 01:05 pm:   

This is a very good game.

Ranaldo seems to be on his own...
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 02:05 pm:   

I think we spoke too soon, Lucius. There seemed to be some kind of energy crisis occuring in that game where the players didn't have any. They all looked pretty tired in the second half. Then there were a lot of substitutions that seemed to disrupt the flow of it. But there were still one or two exciting moments, and the Portugese goalkeeper coming up for the corners at the end was fun.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - 07:02 pm:   

I agree. The air went out of the match in the second half. Let's hope the final is a great one.
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neil williamson
Posted on Thursday, July 06, 2006 - 01:28 am:   

I only saw the last 20 minutes or so (ironically I was out playing football), but I just couldn't quite Portugal scoring unless Barthez actually chucked the ball into his own net (which is not out of the question). The Portuguese just didn't have the cutting edge, and for that reason didn't deserve to be in the final.

France did just enough to get by. Maybe they were saving their old legs for the final?
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Thursday, July 06, 2006 - 02:20 am:   

Hey, Neil, Barthez almost DID throw the ball in his own net at one stage. Did you see it, how he fumbled a freekick and almost let Figo in to score? It was Portgual's best chance of the game.

I wonder about France, though. They certainly won't get away with playing like that against Italy. Maybe the fitness of Italy could be the undoing of France if they start to tire like that in the final. In fact, I'll put my head on the block and predict a win for Italy on that basis.
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ben peek
Posted on Thursday, July 06, 2006 - 03:45 am:   

i'm thinking it'll be italy as well. of course, everyone i support ends up losing, so...

:-)
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neil williamson
Posted on Thursday, July 06, 2006 - 04:07 am:   

I did see that fumble, Alistair. It was classic Barthez. If anyone every asked me to describe Fabian Barthez I'd say he's like Donald Pleasance doing a slapstick routine.

I've given up trying to predict matches in this tournament - but my gut is with Italy too. I think they're more incisive and Zidane and Henry will have to produce something very special to ge through that defence.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 06, 2006 - 04:48 am:   

"If anyone every asked me to describe Fabian Barthez I'd say he's like Donald Pleasance doing a slapstick routine."

:-)


Italy here, too...unless Zidane shucks off his chrysalis at halftime and emerges new and glistening to lead France to victory. Or unless they get some mad referee who starts handing out red cards for sins committed in a past life, or unless....Ah! Who knows?
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Thursday, July 06, 2006 - 10:09 am:   

I will stay with France.
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Carol Ceedan
Posted on Saturday, July 08, 2006 - 03:48 pm:   

ITALIA **o gole mio** LOL

I'm just an avid football fan, stumbled in here on a search, looking for something else, so forgive the intrusion :-) very interesting posts here, just passing through, happy weekend.

Cedan
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JV
Posted on Saturday, July 08, 2006 - 07:58 pm:   

I will stay with French as well.

Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 08, 2006 - 08:12 pm:   

I'm picking Italy, but rooting for France. How fucked is that. :-)
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 02:03 am:   

I'm picking France, but rooting for Italy.:-)
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neil w
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 03:07 am:   

I'm picking Italy and rooting for them. But I reserve the right to be fickle.

I just hope there's tons of goals in this one!
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 03:20 am:   

Goals aplenty would be great.


Looking at Italy, they've only conceded one goal (against the US!) in the entire tournament so far. And it was one of their own players who scored it! That's unreal.

But, when you look at France, you feel that there's no way they can fail to get a goal at some point.

All in all, there's a lot of scope for an exciting final.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 06:40 am:   

Well, Alastair, that's fucked, too. If only I could be as Neil.
;)
Seems like most goals in this tournamentt have have come late, so I'd expect a tense first half followed by...that's anyone's guess.

I'm thinking we'll have a hell of a game.
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JV
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 12:53 pm:   

Lucius:

My wife just said, "What the fuck happened to Lucius? Was he just following World Cup the last year? I want another couple of Shepard books to read?"

JeffV
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 12:59 pm:   

I had eye problems last year. Really knocked me back. We're working now. Got stuff coming out.

Go Blue...er, bleu!

Arr, Matey...:-)
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 01:01 pm:   

PS

....sorta depends on NS...
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JV
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 01:27 pm:   

Go bleu! Yeah, true, Lucius. We love your writing, so we get kinda squirrelly when you don't have like three books out every year.

Ya know--this is a great final. Both fighting. I think that whoever wins, France had the better of it.

I wish it'd go into triple-quadruple overtime. Hate for World Cup to be over... :-(

JeffV
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 01:31 pm:   

Zidane...serious fuck up.

Thanks, Jeff.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 01:51 pm:   

Yes, France was a better team, Italy won. Fuck.

I can only imagine what that guy said to Zidane to get him to do the head butt.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 01:55 pm:   

Still, there's no excuse. Now that's what he'll be remembered for.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 01:57 pm:   

Well, it was a shame, but I don't know that that is what he will be remembered for. This guy has been an incredible player for years. And, quite frankly, France would probably not have made it to the final game without him.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 02:13 pm:   

The last image we'll have of Zidane is him headbutting and basically blowing the world cup. True, he's a great, great player, but that image, in this sound-byte/image oriented world, will follow him all his days.
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 02:17 pm:   

Well, maybe he will change his mind and not retire. I think these games tend to be a bit nasty though.
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neil w
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 02:43 pm:   

Zidane = WTF?

I'm still astonished that that even happened. He just lost it. mind you I felt he was in a bit of a strange space early on with the way he took his penalty, but after that the Italina midfield really shut him down.

As for lasting effects on his story, I think it will be a small, bitter postscript, but people will remember him for being the great player he was. Maradonna had similar issues, I suppose.

Pleased Italy won, it would have been really weird if France had won after that.
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ben peek
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 07:24 pm:   

man, dude, what's with zidane? in a way i was glad he did it. made those final minutes of the game more interesting, since it was kinda nothing after that first half.

still. way to end on a sour note.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 07:35 pm:   

Neil, did Maradona ever lose it to that degree in a world cup?

Whatever, I hope they'll remenber the great player, but no doubt there'll be massive dissection of this in the French papers and TV for some time.

Yeah...sour note.
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trent hergenrader
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 09:42 pm:   

My initial and unconfirmed guess is that Materazzi made a racial remark. I can't think of anything else that could make somewhat lose it so quickly, and racism is all rage in European football lately.

Zidane also got red carded in WC 1998 for stomping on a Saudi Arabian player so this isn't entirely new.

Maradona kicked a Brazilian in the balls in WC 1982, venting his frustration of being marked out of the match. Maradona and sanity have never been close friends, though. 1986 was the only World Cup he really concentrated on football. In 1990 he focused on whining and in 1994 he focused on drugs.

Can you tell I'm not a Maradona fan?
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Brendan Connell
Posted on Sunday, July 09, 2006 - 11:05 pm:   

I agree Trent. That is what I was thinking. Italy is sort of notorious for that too.
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Dflewis
Posted on Monday, July 10, 2006 - 12:45 am:   

The Final stamped forever the intrinsic dark symbolism of the event for me. Ranging from Figo's headbutt, Rooney's kickback into balls, Zidane's insane or (more likely) gratuitous act last night (both clownish and vicious), playing a single match with many random matchballs (not one noumenon of a matchball for the players to devote their team spirit), the dreamlike dives - not of graceful dancers or birds but human bodies clumsily burying themselves into the Earth ball itself...

In contrast, I watched the BBC's goals of the tournament, one after the other in quick succession (including the beautiful ballet of the best goal of them all), and I was glad I had been part of it all, even as a spectator through the reality screens: yet another 'Big Brother'-like extravaganza of mixed emotions.
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neil williamson
Posted on Monday, July 10, 2006 - 01:45 am:   

Trent - that's it, there's just something of the genius/madman thing about those kind of players whose bodies do brilliant things without necessarily consulting their brains first. Sometimes they short circuit.

I have many great memories of Maradona - but the image that the TV folks tend to repeat is of him running to the camera after scoring against (I think) Greece in the USA World Cup, all-bullring sweat and mad-staring, coked-up eyes. It was frightning.

Same with Zidane - we're going to see that head-butt over and over again, but I'll always remember the flying volley he scored in the Champions League final at Hampden a few years ago.


All in all I thought it was a fascinating game. Great start, wonderfully cheeky penalty, but then Italy came back into it and were running the show by half time. Then it was France's turn and i though they had the winning of it until they began to tire. Going into extra time, it could have been anyone's game, but Zidane's "moment" handed the momentum, and the spirit, and the sense of justice to Italy - and you could see that in the way they took their penalties.
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neil williamson
Posted on Monday, July 10, 2006 - 01:46 am:   

Des - sorry, I don't see what you mean by "dark symbolism". I think that's giving too much import to gifted players just cracking under the pressure when things are going badly for them.
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Dflewis
Posted on Monday, July 10, 2006 - 03:03 am:   

Sorry, Neil, perhaps I should have put my post under the 'modern art' thread. The whole World cup struck me as a happening or art event.

Re Zidane's kiss, in particular, I think that is the essence of an art event or 'happening', whereby one cannot gauge the intentionalty, yet it is art (if one deems it a work of art - and this particular one was an art event for millions, I feel, in one go, rather than trooping for years by a urinal in a museum), and all great art, I feel, creates a lasting image in your mind together with (mixed) emotions that also last.
des
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neil williamson
Posted on Monday, July 10, 2006 - 05:50 am:   

I sort of know what you mean, Des. But I can't really parse football in that sense. For me football is football - it's not a visual spectacle, or even a montage of visual spectacles interspersed with boring bits - it's a giant narrative. Every game - whether it be world cup or junior league - builds on the story-so-far. Right from the formation of the game in the 19th century there have been fans to discuss each game in the pub and historians to place it in the context of the game's great story.

We've been talking about Zidane's great protaganism in the story of the game, both a hero and now a villain, with this latest, and last, incident adding a sourness to his contribution to the great text. Maradona too - has been a major character, and Pele, Garincha, Ronaldo, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Tony Schumacher and Patrick Battiston, and Archie Gemmel too :D It's truly a cast of thousands...

...I think I've stretched that metaphor quite far enough, but you get the general idea.

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