Sunday, July 09, 2006

Living by the sword: Forza Italia!

It took four tries, but Italy finally won a penalty shootout in the World Cup. And in 2006, Italy is king of the soccer world.

The Monk watched the full game today and from minutes 50-105, the French were better and from minutes 75-120 the Italians looked flat-out waxed (probably from the 120-minute match against Germany from Tuesday). From minutes 5-45, the Italians ruled. And when the match came down to penalties, the Italians were all class: they buried all five penalty kicks, twice beating French GK Fabian Barthez even though he had guessed the right way to dive.

So now, the good, bad and ugly of this Final.


More good -- Gianluigi Buffon showing that he is the class among 'keepers worldwide; the Italian penalty takers who put on a how-to demonstration; Thierry Henry, who caused trouble as long as he could play; Zinedine Zidane (for 108 minutes or so), who was the best player on the pitch; minimal floppery from the Italians, who are infamous for their flopathons.

The Bad: the two penalties for the French, one given, one not. The first one, given in the 5th minute, was a cheap flop; the second one, not given in the 47th minute, was a legitimate and clear foul. More bad -- the offsides call that wiped out the Italians' second goal (Toni, the erstwhile scorer, was onside when the ball was played forward); the Italians' back line in the last 1/6th of the match when the French had far too many opportunities to bang home the winner; the Italian attack for the last hour of the game; the horrid wide-open 25-yard shank by Ribery with just under a half hour in regulation = horrid finishing, really just US-quality stuff.

The Ugly: Zidane's head-butt that got him tossed out on a red card. That's just low-end stuff from a great player.

The Cup is over. The second-lowest scoring tournament in Cup history (behind only Italy 1990). Much dullness, but a hard-fought Final with a good result. Here's hoping South Africa 2010 will be more fun, with a better US performance, and more success for my paesani.

Forza Italia!

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