Thursday, July 06, 2006

World Cup Semi-finals

Germany 0-2 Italy
Deutschland, Deutschland über...uh, nobody, actually.

I decided to cheer for Germany after England got knocked out (I'm half German, so it's allowed), and of course that was the kiss of death, as they promptly went down to Italy. Maybe I should have been rooting for Portugal instead.

Still, despite my chosen team losing, it was a great game. And if only the Germans hadn't been collectively possessed by the spirit of Frank Lampard, they might have won. Or, you know, if they had managed not to self-destruct so spectacularly in the last minute of extra time. On the other side you had the evil genius of the Italians, who knew they only needed one goal to win it, and didn't seem that bothered about going to extra time because they figured they'd knick one sooner or later. That second goal was an uncharacteristic extravagance, though -- shouldn't they have been saving it for the final?

  • Best player: Fabio Cannavaro, aka the reason the Italian defense is so good. Probably the best player of the tournament so far. (And he doesn't look so bad in his underwear either. I'm just saying.)

  • Best illustration of the fact that goalkeepers are nuts: Jens Lehmann coming way out to collect a stray ball, clocking Fabio Grosso in the process, and then looking down at him disdainfully as the physio came on, all, "Get this riff-raff out of my penalty area."

  • Best dive: Michael Ballack. One of the Italians waved his arm vaguely near Ballack's face, he went down quicker than one of those prostitutes they imported for the tournament, and the ref wisely ignored the whole thing.

  • Best pout: Ballack again. (If he stuck his lip out any further, he'd trip over it. I thought the Germans were supposed to be too Teutonic-ly stoic to pout like that.)

France 1-0 Diving Wankers Portugal
Silly me, somehow I had the idea that the semi-final games were supposed to be exciting. Not this one -- especially not once Zidane had scored. (I'd actually nodded off at that point, but I woke up when the commentators started yelling about a penalty.) After that, it was like France figured Portugal wasn't ever going to put together a proper attack, so they could spend the rest of the game just playing around in midfield, coddling Zizou through to the final and occasionally giving the ball to Ribery to run at the Portuguese defence, just to give the kid something to do.

Portugal's response to all this? Luis Felipe Scolari, master tactician that he is, decided that the best thing to do when you really need a goal is to take off your one and only striker. (Somewhere in Sweden, Sven-Goran Eriksson is thinking, "Damn, I wish I'd thought of that one!") And yeah, it worked about as well as you'd expect. Luckily I'd had a lot of caffeine at half-time so I could stay conscious for the rest of the game.

  • Best player: Despite the commentators practically fellating Zizou, I'm going to give it to a defender again, in this case Lilian Thuram. If you've got Eric Abidal in your back line, you've got to be good. Runner-up was Cristiano Ronaldo, who was actually Portugal's most dangerous attacker when he managed to stay vertical.

  • Best illustration of the fact that goalkeepers are nuts: Fabien Barthez punching a free kick straight up in the air and then flailing around helplessly as Figo headed it over the bar. Actually, Fabien Barthez, period.

  • Best dive: Thierry Henry, taking time out from his busy schedule of being caught offside and shrugging Gallic-ly in order to fall down in the 18-yard box. (Yeah, ok, it was a foul, but he still made a meal of it.) Ronaldo tried hard, but he forgot that it helps if the other player actually touches you.

  • Best pout: Poor widdle Ronniecakes takes this one. Who else, really?

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