Recurring Decimals…..

Everything here is irrelevant

And then there were two….

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Well technically, there are still four – the losers from the semi-finals get to play another game on Saturday for the third position. But that game is as important as the position of the vice-president of the United States (well – maybe not now – but whatever).

Just in case anyone is wondering, I am talking about the FIFA World Cup 2006 – if you have been in a cave or living under a rock for the past month, now will be a good time to come out.

A month ago or even a couple of weeks ago, not many would have predicted this final: Argentina had the most balanced team, Brazil were the most talented, Germans were playing trumendously with home support. But it was the ageing French and the solid Italians who will get to fight it out this Sunday.

A France-Italy final can go either way – it could be a thrilling up and down contest or a dull defensive battle. Both teams have shown dual personalities through the tournament. Italy started off with a dashing attacking style against Ghana, then played out a boring, brawl-fest against USA and finally topped the group with a strong finish against the Czechs. Subsequently, they went back into a shell against Australia, escaping with a very questionable last-minute penalty. Since that much criticised game, however, they have displayed some dazzling football to beat Ukraine 3-0 with relative ease in the quarters and then Germany in a high-octane semi-final game. The heartening aspect of the game against Germany was that Lippi was not afraid of going all out for the win. Of course, their offense is comforted by the knowledge of having an almost impregnable defense (yet to concede a goal from the opponent) that can stop quick counter-attacks. Hopefully it will be this attacking Italian team that shows up for the final.

France meanwhile started badly – a continuation of their dismal form from the last World Cup. They barely scraped through the preliminary stage before finding some flashes of brilliance against Spain, and then put in a dominating second half performance against Brazil to secure the semi spot. Against Portugal they did not do much offensively. The penalty was justified even if Henry made it a tad dramatic. [Talking about drama, of course, brings to mind the Portugese team that seemed intent on ‘selling’ fouls  to the referee (the usual routine of dive – followed by an arm-raised and I-cant-believe-you-din’t-call-that incredulous look)  instead of concentrating on the task of scoring a goals.]. Again hoping that in the finals it is the French team that won against Spain and Brazil that shows up to play – with some dazzling moves by Zidane.

Apart from Zidane, I think the biggest gain for France in this World Cup has been the emergence of Ribery. This guy has speed, stamina and more than decent skills. Looking forward to much more action from him in Euro 2008.

Final note: my hope for the finals: Fra 3 Ita 2 (or perhaps 2-1) with the final goal coming in extra-time like the Euro 2000 finals. But I have a feeling it will be Italy 2-0.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

July 6, 2006 at 7:33 am

Posted in Soccer, Sports, World Cup

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