Monday, July 10, 2006

Wrap Up From The Big Game

The World Cup is over. Kudos to Italy for winning it. With their fourth Cup they have reestablished themselves as a force in the game. It was a shame that the game was decided on penalty kicks but in extra time both teams started playing for a shootout. The only players on the field who were really going for it were the younger players like Ribery and Malouda. Once Domenech took off Ribery he conceded that the game would go to penalty kicks. Once it got to penalty kicks each team did extremely well. The fact that the only thing to separate the two sides was David Trezeguet missing a penalty kick underscores the point that there was very little difference between the sides. Zidane could have won it on a header, no not that one, that was saved by Buffon and Luca Toni could have won it with his header but he was well offsides once the ball was played. All in all it was a good tournament and I'm glad to see Italy on top because this is good for Italian soccer after the black eye they took from the match fixing scandal. They needed this more than any other team, I think.

And what of the headbutt heard around the world? Very unfortunate way to end a great career. I don't doubt that Zidane will be forgiven and his lasting memory will be his all around excellence on the field, but his last act on a football field will never be forgotten. He will be as synonymous with his great performance in '98 as his meltdown in 2006. Great players who live on the edge are always forgiven, however. The Eric Cantona kung fu kick in '95 comes to mind. Now Cantona is the jolly fat man on Nike commercials encouraging the world to "play beautiful." Diego Maradona had the hand of god and the cocaine suspension in '94 but most people remember him for his amazing goal in the 86 Cup where he beat no fewer than 8 defenders in scoring the greatest goal I've seen. The only question to be answered is 'what could have Materazzi have said?' My sources(I watch a little too much of Steven A. Smith) tell me that Materazzi said something very racist, still to be confirmed, and called Zidane an Arab terrorist. Given the general xenophobia against certain ethnicities that surrounds Italian football it wouldn't surprise me if this is proven true. Still, I am not sure if this would be enough provocation for a player of such status to lose it but as Chris Rock said about O.J. Simpson, 'i aint saying i woulda did it, but i understand.'

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