Finally the extravaganza that was the football world cup 06 is over….and the soccer widows can do whatever they want with their husbands now that they can be weaned away from beer and the antics of shorts clad young men on the pitch (hehe)…Frankly this edition of footballs biggest celebration failed to live up to expectaions, with dubious refereeing and big names failing to live up to their billing…who would have predicted an italy vs france final..With a poisonous cloud over the italian team cocncerning the biggest scandal in recent times to rock domestic football and as many as 13 (mayb 12 but 13 sounds more glamorous ) of their squad involved in investigations that might lead to the end of their careers, nobody was backing italy to climb out of that hole and progress out of the group stage let alone reach the final…And france, well they were being billed as the fallen giants, having failed to show the promiseof 98 and 2000 when they won the european cup in any of the qualifiers.Add to that a team that looked like it was going to fall of their legs at any moment and france did’nt make very pretty picture going in ot the world cup..
Well they both refused to give in and both teams put in inspired performances to leave what was behind them and prove that in football you cant predict anything..
circa the group stage when france were struggling to find goals and zidane was a shadow of his former self, and everyone (including yours truly was burying them into ignominy). The french found their rhythm only in the last game against togo and qualified into the group stage by the skin of their teeth. Inspiration came from ribery against the spanish when his spectacular solo goal lifted the entire team to perform and stalwarts like zidane and viera came to the party, both showing flashes of brilliance in their 3-1 win. But we still werent sure whther they could live up to the big samba boys in the quarters..and wallah. another majestic performance from zizo coupled with bad tactics from the brazilian coach (tell me what kind of crazy coot plays someone like ronaldinho in a deep defensive position? if you ask me he was one of the biggest reasons ronaldinho flopped in this wc) led france to a semi clash with portugal which they won (of course). By this time it looked like zizou would end his last wc match with his hands on the cup.. But history will have a different tale to tell, of one of the most majestic players of his time losing his cool and losing his country the cup …Why? france will ask of it’s favourite son. But the answer will forever remain shrouded in speculation and one of the greatest incidents in wc history..
But the champions were the azzuri. After being labelles cheats in their group game against the us for the use of questionable tactics, it is credit to their captain canavaro (my choice for the golden ball) that they rallied and produced one of the best performances of the cup by a team in the semi against germany to rob the host nation of a dream. youngster fabio grosso must have been in dreamland when he saw his delightfully curled shot go past lehman and into the top corner minutes before penalties aginst germany.. He for me was one of the stars of the team along with pirlo and gattuso whose engines never seemed to give out in the middle of the park. They can be sure he has a lot in store for them after this world cup…
And how can i miss buffon. The most expensive keeper in the world sure lived up to his billing. with a delectable performance throughout the cup, he has never put a foot wrong. and the icing was a spectacular stop from a zidane header in extra time that surely would have given france the cup..
There were too many heroes in the italian team, and the french were left high and dry by a moment of madness…Here’s to the azzuri!!!!