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Day: July 9, 2006

No Ifs Or Butts

Italy 1-1 France (Italy win 5-3 on Penalties) Oh, Zizou. What a stupid, stupid thing to do. Into extra-time, and staring down the barrel of a penalty shoot-out. Having already lost Vieira and Henry to substitutes, we can only speculate over what was going through his mind, and it’s fair to say that his moment of impetuous insanity cost France the World Cup. What the hell dic Materazzi say to him, though? It must have been the best insult ever. He has got form for losing his rag, though – he got himself sent off at France 98 for stamping. One would have expected him to have developed a little more maturity since then, though. Up until then, it looked like it was going to be his night. His early penalty, chipped nonchalantly off the underside of the crossbar as Buffon dived the other way, was yet further proof of his arrogant genius. There was no great debate over the fact Materazzi’s tackle was a foul – but the indication was certainly there that this was to be a night on which Materazzi would prove to be the central figure. His equalizer, a perfect header from a terrifc corner (the French struggled with Italian set-pieces throughout), was no less than he deserved. He had picked himself up, dusted himself down and was, for me, the man of the match....

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Gah!

I’ve run out of time! Italy. I’ve just got a feeling about them. Don’t know why.

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A Host Of Entertainment

Germany 3-1 Portugal At half-time last night, I rather thought that I had, as promised, jinxed proceedings. But then the Germans came out and played. As I said yesterday, I really enjoy the World Cup third place play-off match, and in the end we had a match to be proud of, as Germany overcame Portugal comfortably. Eventually. The first half was surprisingly pedestrian. Portugal continued to suffer from not being able to do anything once they got the ball near the opposition penalty area, whilst the Germans appeared strangely nervous. It was, frankly, a dull first-half. I couldn’t help but think this was the World Cup letting us down again… but then Jurgen Klinsmann had a word at half-time, and Germany came out for the second half looking, as they had done in several previous matches, like one of the best attacking teams in the world. I was delighted to see Bastian Schweinsteiger turn, briefly, into the best striker of a ball from twenty yards out. This is partly because is name translates as “Pig-riser”, but also because he has worked so damn hard during this World Cup. His efforts finally reaped some sort of reward. It was harsh, though, on the excellent Ricardo, who was beaten three times in the second half. Twice there was nothing he could really do about, and once he was fooled by a...

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