Monday, July 10, 2006

Forza Italia! Viva la Azzurri!

I had the kids for much of the final, so I can't say I saw every moment of the match. That said:

The five worst moments of the World Cup 2006 final:

¶ When I learned that Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa would be calling it. I'm sorry (and while I praised Robert Weintraub's article in Slate on the U.S. team, I disagree with him on this score): for a tournament of this magnitude, there shouldn't have to be a learning curve. Thankfully, I was watching the match at our local, the Celtic Knot, in Evanston, IL, where most of their inanities were drowned out by the crowd.

¶ Thierry Henry's substitution -- for his initial head injury, less than a minute into the match? Or a leg injury? Dunno. But a loss for France and World Cup fans alike.

¶ Francesco Totti's substitution. Ditto (except for the bit about the French fans.)

¶ Without a doubt, Zinedine Zidane's sending off, for head-butting (sort-of) Marco Materazzi. (1) You knew France was going to be in tough shape once their captain was sent off. (2) It's a shame to see ZiZou leave his last match for retirement under such circumstances, especially as . . . (3) To my knowledge, he was responding to Materazzi having called him "a filthy Arab" (so much for the World Cup theme of "A time to make friends. . . say no to racism"). I certainly hope to learn that that was not the case.

¶ That the match went to penalties. Call me crazy, but (again, in a match of this magnitude), I want to see the players fighting it out for a Golden Goal, until they're bleeding and crawling on the field, and the medics are coming out with defibrillators.

The five best moments of the World Cup 2006 final:

¶ Overheard at the Knot, (most evidently) from a French fan: "You remember when England invaded the Falklands?" "Yeah." "Well, Italy surrendered just in case."

That's why you go to your local (even when you've got a wide-screen TV the size of Cook County. . .)

¶ My husband stuffed the raffle box. . . (Shhhhhhh)

¶ Again, overheard: "If that had been an England player giving a head-butt, Materazzi would be lying bloodied on the pitch. If yer going to head-butt, finish 'em off."

¶ That spectacular Zidane-Buffon exchange: brilliant midair header by Zidane, breathtaking save by (Italian goalie) Buffon. Truly a clash of the Titans that should go down for the ages, if Zidane's sending off doesn't (sadly) eclipse it.

¶ That the match went to penalties. I knew that if France couldn't win during regular play, we would see a master class in goaltending from the phenomenal Gianluigi Buffon (I said as much in my post on the quarters, going so far as to say then that they would be indomitable). Give Buffon the Golden Ball.

For now, though, the entire Italian team is caressing the World Cup*. I look forward to the analyses . . . after all, it can't be over, not yet!

* In my original post, I called the trophy "Jules Rimet." A keen reader corrected me: the trophy has not been so called since the 1970 tournament, won by Brazil. Brazil was permanently awarded the trophy then, for being the first national team to win the tournament three times. Sadly, the trophy was stolen and melted down by thieves (in 1966, after England won, the cup was lost and found by a dog named 'Pickles' [!]). Just as well, then, that Jules rests in peace and the FIFA World Cup Trophy remains unscathed.


Anonymous said...

'Jules Rimet' is the old trophy that Brazil won & kept (& lost to theft) in 1970. The new one is not called 'Jules Rimet'.

Euonymous said...

Ha, I was kinda being cheeky (again), but I did not know this!! How interesting.

Ten years ago there was a song released in England by the Lightning Seeds, and had the lyrics "Three lions on a shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming, thirty years of hurt, never stopped my dreaming . . . " Must let Baddiel and Skinner know, eh?

Euonymous said...

What do they call the new one? Fred?