Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Final for the Ages

What a final! Two evenly matched teams gave the world a show, and perhaps the better team didn’t win (after all I am partial to France, my pre-World Cup pick to win the title) but the real winner was the game of Soccer/Football. After three consecutive sub par World Cup finals, this game lived up to the billing. The Azzurri claimed the title, but from my perspective France was the team of the World Cup using incredible depth and veteran leadership to overcome the odds and beat the overwhelming pre tournament favorite, Brazil, and the best team in group play, Spain.

Italy’s Marcello Lippi used all of the experience he gained coaching at the highest level of club football and led his nation to its first world title since Paulo Rossi’s great team in 1982. Italy got substantial contributions from everyone in their starting eleven and unlike England the Azzurri actually have players that can finish their chances.

I am disappointed that FIFA continues to use penalty kicks to determine the world champion. In a final, even if the majority of players are dead tired we should play until a golden goal is scored (after the 30 minute extra time is completed.) With tired players comes more space and ultimately more good scoring opportunities.

Since this match was a draw after full time I am going to award two men of the match, one for each side.

For Italy, the World Champions Fabio Cannavaro who shut down Thierry Henry and the France attack in the final third all night long.

For France, Florent Malouda was dangerous all game long on the left flank. He drew a penalty, almost drew a second penalty and created countless scoring chances for the French, only to have Cannavaro and Buffon rise to the occasion and send the game to penalty kicks.



Hat Trick Peter Crouch said...

I am sick and tired of the Italians diving and flopping all over the pitch. The referee was correct to send Zidane off but Italy should have had multiple yellow cards for diving. How many Italian players who had to be carried of the pitch showed up as injured in the post match report?

Italy is an unworthy champion. Personally I believe we (England) could have and would have beaten this Italy team that drew with a 9 man USA, needed the referee to beat Australia, got to play a unworthy Ukraine, and got run all over the pitch by a superior France side who was unlucky not to score 5 goals.

Hat Trick Peter Crouch said...

I agree that Malouda should have been the man of the match. He and Ribbery controlled the flanks for France and Thuram and Sagnol played large at the back.

Hat Trick Peter Crouch said...

France outshot Italy 16 to 5, but still did not get the victory. how fair is the shootout system?

Hat Trick Peter Crouch said...

France outshot Italy 16 to 5, but still did not get the victory. how fair is the shootout system?

The Three Lions said...

Itlay was not only outclassed on the pitch by France, they were outclassed off the pitch by the other 31 nations.

The Italian FA is run by thugs and corrupt managers. This match fixing scandal is serious and for bloody sake, over half the team and the manager were involved in it.

It is unfortunate such a side has won the biggest prize in the world. This is a bad example for all the outh of the world who play the lovely game.

Xavier said...

I completely agree that Italy was outplayed today by France, but they held their shape at the back very well and it is not the number of opportunities you get or the number of shots you take, but the number of goals you score.

France missed Patrick Vierra who went off injured badly on set pieces and in the run of play late in the 2nd half. His replacement was adequete but certainly no Vierra.

Tim L said...

Henry's poor finishing was evident again today. The two wide players Ribbery and Malouda created several chances that either he or Zidane couldn't finish in the box.

I do not like the style of the italian team and its players, constantly diving and whining. Despite this they are the champions.

A whiny Yank goes down said...

I agree with every lasy one of you.

Italy were utter garbage.

Zidane being sent off was rubbish because the referee waited to watch a televsion replay before issuing the red card. FIFA must determine if the referee acted improperly in this instance.

I have no love for France but were pulling for them versus the cheats from Italia, Berlusconi and company.

Tampa Cane said...

I am not a soccer fan and only on occasion even watch the World Cup.

Today's game however was just awesome until the let down of a penalty kick shootout to determine a world champion! What a total disgrace. Those of you who know more about soccer than me, can you explain to me why we have this shootout to determine a champion?

Hat Trick Peter Crouch said...

The whole system of PKs is idiotic. It began in the 1970s and needs to be abolished. It is no way to decide a champion.

Hernandez said...

PKs are no way to decide a title!

Good for italy but sad for france!

they should decide it on the field!

Hernandez said...

makalele had a poor showing for france today. i agree that malouda was outstanding and i believe that even though he did not score a goal, henry played well also. the kid ribbery was mia today. he made some nice runs but play was much too uneven coming from him. france could have used saha who was suspended. he would have made his penalty!

Rafael said...

A final worthy of high praise, but an ending that was a total dud and thud. I hate deciding any game on pks especially the World Cup finals!

Rafael said...

Henry scored 3 goals in the World Cup but seemed to fall short of expectations. Malouda was as kartik stated outstanding.

Del Piero once again gave Italy a huge lift when he entered the match. Luca Toni came very close to scoring a spectacular goal that would have made it 2-1 Italy. Bufoon was outstanding yet again and Italy's back line + keeper won them the trophy.

WeWillWin said...

I had heard so much about the #10 for Italy, Totti before the world cup. It's amazing Italy persevered and won it all considering their most hyped player proved to be a total joke during much of the month in Germany. Again today he was the first Azzurri player pulled by Lippi. If Lippi continues as national team coach, Totti's future with the national team is in doubt. Italy were clearly better with him off the pitch.

Sams Army said...

Italia's victory today verifies what I have been saying about the US team. While we got some bad breaks and were eliminated early we CAN BEAT ANYBODY IN THE WORLD! We beat Italy before the refs took over and we were the only team to get a draw versus Italy. I am so proud of our boys. Guys like Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley who were vilified on this website proved their metal in that game running hard at the Italians and taking the game to them even though the ref had sent off two of our key players.

2010 will be our time. Bruce and the boys have learned from this experience so the world better look out!

Rafael said...

Sams Army you are smoking some strong stuff!!!!!

Anonymous said...

the US did not even have a single shot on goal versus italy yet one person on this site keeps claiming they should have won the game. Insane!

SA, USA didn't have a shot on goal versus Italy! How can you claim they should have defeated the Azzurri??????????????

Check My Machine said...

We have a lot of talent right here in MLS. No excuse exists for the USA performance.

Federico said...

I'm glad to see such an enlightened discussion in the final was once again ruined by Sams Army.

My two cents are the France dominated play after half time but couldn't finish numerous chances because Italy were so well structured at the back. Zidane is one of the great footballers of our time and was the best player today until minute 110 when he did something totally inexplicable for a leader and a player of his high standing. Maybe it was fate. It just wasn't meant to be.

Henry, Ribbery, Vierra and Zidane all missing for the PK shootout. Yet France still made their kicks except for the unlucky miss from Trezeguet. France had so much depth and class but not enough finishing. Italy is a worthy champion, as would have been France.

Never Again said...

What will be the result of the match fixing scandal? Will Italy be disgraced inspite of winning this title?

Anonymous said...

Rumor is that the italy players will all be pardoned now that they have won the world cup. the italian FA Must however take action to avoid major FIFA sanctions

Anonymous said...

kartik whatever are your excuses going to be for your france team?

Zizou 06 said...

Good post Kartik. I agree with you on the men of the match. Malouda had an exceptional match. I think that his days at Lyon will be numbered. But, who knows, with the problems with Serie A, Ligue 1 might step up.

Again, I am partial to France, but I think they should have won. If we lost to Spain, Brazil or Portugal, I wouldn't have had a problem. But to lose to a team that tied a 9 player US team and had a crappy penalty called in stoppage time against Australia.

Yeah, they beat Germany with only a few minutes left, but they actually earned that win.

I have to say that this is the worse World Cup champion that we have had in years. They didn't deserve it.

I agree with Kartik on another point as well. I think the soccer fans were the winner. But only in this game. In the other games, I think the fans were the loser. Why? Because of all the cards in this WC. Fans were not able to watch the players play as physical as they usually would because of all of the cards.

Maybe this is why Italy won, because they dive so damn much!

Gator said...

Say what you will about the Italian team, but in the course of WC play they allowed no opponents a goal from the field -- just an own goal against the USA and a PK from France (and a questionable call, at that, although a later call was missed, in my opinion).

France played well, but in the end they didn't have Zindane, Henry, Vieira and Ribery on the field. These four players accounted for all of the goals scored by France in the WC.

Play of the game -- Buffon defecting Zindane's point-blank header in overtime.

I am not wild about shots from the penaly area deciding the WC champions, but neither do I want to see a bunch of zombies staggering around the pitch 50 or 60 minutes into overtime.

If we were to go to an extended overtime, then perhaps there should be additional substitutions allowed -- say an additional player at the beginning, and another after 30 minutes.

All that being said, the Italians have the crown for the next four years.

Now on to South Africa!

USA06 said...

A great game decided unfairly by PK's. This is akin to deciding the NBA Champion with a free-throw shooting contest - absurd.

Take a player off the pitch, allow more substitutions, play until there is a golden goal - anything would be better than the current method.

Like many, I found it hard to root for Italy. This from the Washington Post:

"According to statistics compiled from TV broadcasts through the semifinals by British company Information Builders, the Italians have committed the most dives with 32."

It is really frustrating as a fan because when they weren't playing for the ref's whistle, Italy showed some great skill and talent at all positions.

Since Sams Army thinks the FIFA rankings are the way teams should be judged, she will have to admit that USA is NOT one of the elite teams in the world when they drop out of the top 20 in the next ranking released.

Sams Army said...

The bottom line is that we tied Italy and they beat everyone else. We should remain in the top 10 in the new FIFA rankings espcially considering the Refs were responsible for screwing us.

Anonymous said...

Just like everyone else but you, I doubt FIFA will see it that way.

USA06 said...

From Grant Wahl's interview with Sunil Gulati the new president of the United States Soccer Federation: So now that Italy has made the final -- and the U.S. is the only team that has taken any points from the Italians -- you're not putting any positive spin on that?

Gulati: I think one goes crazy if he uses the analysis of We tied them, and they did this. Because in about two iterations you run into a large number of inconsistencies. And if not that, then silliness. So either way, it doesn't make sense.