Based on what I’ve seen from the singing of the respective national anthems, the Italians seem to be coming out with a little more spirit. Gattuso, in particular, is on another level with his eyes closed like that–could be trouble for Zidane. It seems fewer of the French know the words. Zidane wasn’t singing at all–he seemed to be already playing the game in his head.
Ok, it’s time for kickoff…
2:00 Checking Henry’s pupils? The commentators have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
4:37 Henry’s back, good. Oh, hold the phone, a PK already!
6:30 Well, whadaya think? Looks like there was contact there, but that much? No matter now, Zidane shows he’s still got a few tricks left in his bag. A chip and it’s 1-0 Les Bleus.
13:3O That was a nice free kick, if not for the sterling defensive header, surely one of the three Italians would have finished it.
15:50 Nice run from Grosso, ugly finish, or was that a cross? Can’t tell.
18:30 That last comment was very prophetic HJ. Nice corner, poor marking and then the equalizer. The French back line is resembling a sieve. 1-1.
21:30 FIFA has possession at 70-30 Italy. France needs to take care of the ball better or there are going to be countless more good chances for Azzurri.
24:30 I was surprised to see Henry playing so deep, and then the spendid ball to Ribery. Nice recovery for the Italian defense.
27:19 Barthez with a save with his feet! But an Italian foul as well. Why was Barthez so far off his line when there was no chance of grabbing that? I’m telling you, he’s been shaky all tournament, and he may be the weak link for France.
32:00 Come on, what’s a few cleat marks on your foot? This is the World Cup final–get up! What’s that they’re pouring on there–Gatorade?
35:00 Oh my, the Azzurri are looking very dangerous forward. Barthez can’t carry them, the back line has got to shut them down soon or this will get ugly before it’s over. Meanwhile, Henry carries the hopes of Les Bleus on his back.
39:30 Zizou, where are you? Your country is calling!
44:45 Hey, doesn’t he get a “do-over” on that throw in? Oh, that’s right, that’s U6
Halftime: 1-1. Italy played better, several good chances and one nice finish. Zidane had a nice PK (JRB–Balboa is right, he did mean to hit the bar!), but has been neutralized otherwise. Henry and Ribery are working hard for France, but Azzurri’s defense is up to the task everytime. Can you believe they still haven’t given up a “real goal?”
France must step it up a bit. They look tired. They look, well, old. Azzurri are diving as usual, but have more teeth in their attack. I’m telling you, the national anthem was like a Rorshach test–Italy has come to play.
That was a nice “feel good” fluff piece by Jim Mckay. If Eyegal was here (she’s in Mexico on a mission trip) she would be hitting the Kleenex on that one. McKay is like a favorite uncle to me. I was watching live in ’72 when he said “They’re all gone.” I cried, and I got teary again when I watched “Munich.”
45:19 Henry’s taking on the whole back line. He’ll try to attack more, draw some attention, and maybe create some space for Zidane to operate.
50:00 Another dangerous foray by Henry. I don’t think Zidane meant to swing that one in that far. He’s looking a little like me in a Saturday AM pickup game.
52:00 Ah yes, signs of life from Les Bleus!
53:00 What? No PK? I’m sorry but if you called the first one, you’ve got to call that one! Oh well, karma perhaps?
54:43 Ok, the French had a ton of space to operate on that last foray and are starting to unlock the Italian backline. I smell a “real goal” coming soon.
58:30 Zizou, that’s called a give and go! I think he ran out of gas. I can relate.
59:40 Typing with one eye on the TV and one on the keyboard is hard. But I’m up to the task. I’m the Eyeguy.
61:30 Balboa is an imbecile. That wasn’t even close. The Italian was so far off, he had already pitched a pup tent and was roasting hot dogs back there. Come on, Balboa.
68:30 Italian mistake? That’s not much of a mistake in my book. There were still 5 Italians to 2 French. I’m sure they’ll take those kind of mistakes anyday.
70:00 Dangerous FK from Zidane, but Buffon more than capable coming off his line to punch it away. He’s younger and more athletic than Barthez and that may end up being the difference, especially if this goes to PKs.
74:40 Another Zidane free kick…the Italians hold fast again.
76:30 And now Pirlo…nice up and over the wall and just wide…
78:53 Both sides seem content to kick around for now…I don’t think you’re going to see the Italians taking chances and throwing numbers into the attack like they did v. Germany. They know they have the advantage in youth and fitness, and the longer this match goes on, the better their chances.
81:00 Zizou is down but not out! The “magic spray” works again. Vive le Zidane!
82:22 This center ref is all over the place with his calls. Zidane was diving early, but he’s getting whacked pretty hard out there now and no call.
84:00 Uh oh, Del Piero is coming in. Let’s see if those fresh thirtysomething legs will work their magic again.
87:00 France has carried the attack this half, but has nothing to show for it. Oh, another Italian dive and a call! This center ref sucks.
89:12 This one’s going to overtime. Hey, 30 more minutes of World Cup soccer works for me.
End of regulation and now we go to overtime. Italy looks a little tired, but they did at the end of regulation v. Germany too and look how they came out firing after that. France has had loads more room to operate this half and have been winning the 50/50s and second balls in the midfield. But have the “old boys” extended themselves to their limit? Will there be some gas left for 30 more minutes or are they running on fumes?
2:00 Alright, there’s some good touches from Zizou in the midfield. The Italians aren’t coming out with the vim and vigor which characterized their extra session v. Germany
4:30 Nice nutmeg, but the bearded one (Gattuso) makes a good stop.
8:00 Ouch. Ribery was open on the flank, but Henry couldn’t quite get it through. The Italians are playing for PKs.
9:00 Ouch again. Little Napoleon (Ribery) is just wide of the post. And now he’s out. He ran his heart out today–outstanding. As Michael Davies would say, he left his shorts, jock, socks and boots on the pitch–completely naked from the waist down.
13:07 Buffon saves the day! Incredible header from Zidane! Oh my, Zidane is alive and breathing after all! France knows that PKs will most likely not benefit them with Buffon on guard. Attack Les Bleus, attack!
End of first OT. Zidane is smiling–that’s a good thing. After a lackluster first half, France has carried the field–justice would be well served if they won. But soccer is a fickle mistress, sometimes dispensing justice, sometimes heartache. Balboa is still babbling on about that offsides goal for Italy. Hey wait a minute, he’s Italian! Figures.
17:00 Henry is done. It’s time for fresher legs to finish the job.
18:30 I can’t believe what I just saw. The center ref apparently didn’t see Zidane dish out that head butt to the chest of the Italian. He stomped a Saudi player in ’98 and was sent off. Oh, there it is–straight red. Ok, I know he deserved it, no doubt. But did any of the officials actually see the offense (or did they watch the monitor)? No matter, it’s done. What a shame on Zidane. I can’t believe he risked his legacy and his side’s chances in a World Cup final.
25:00 Despite the loss of Zidane, the French continue to press. Let’s see, if we go to PKs, Henry, Zidane and Ribery are all out. Is there anybody left who can beat Buffon?
27:00 I hope Barthez took his Geritol this morning.
End of Overtime. We’re going to PKs (rats!). This will be interesting. Italy is 0-3 in World Cup matches decided by PKs. France is without the services of Ribery, Henry and Zidane. Buffon had the edge athletically over Barthez. I predict it will be the present over the past, Buffoon over Barthez, Italy over France. But I hope I’m wrong.
France is the first to flinch. Buffon will save at least one and that is all it will take.
Barthez is just flopping. Pathetic.
Ok, good shooting by the French, but Grosso won’t miss.
There it is, Italy wins. With the single French miss off the crossbar, Buffon didn’t need a save. The French were dispirited without their captain, who went postal at the worst possible time, and Ribery and Henry. Interesting decision to take Ribery and Henry out when it looked very much like they were going to PKs. I bet the French press will have a field day with that one. Domenech will be crucified. Maybe he and Bruce should get together and compare notes.
Gattuso has his shorts off and is sliding around the pitch in his jock (shades of Brandi Chastain?). Maybe it’s an “Italian thing.” Whatever. Imagine what he’ll do later tonight after a few beers.
Has some sort of cosmic justice been served? Perhaps. I will give this some thought and let you know after resting my tired fingers.
Bono is singing “One” to a highlight reel, a la CBS’ Final Four “One Shining Moment.” Ah, that helps a little. I may have to watch that a few times.
Oh well, I guess it had to end sometime.