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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Beautiful Game 

Well, yeah it turned pretty ugly in the end.

How is that fifa can have the sides championing fair play and regular anti-racist messages when in the final we get a guy slam his head into an opponent allegedly on the back of some dodgy sledging and then he gets red carded, to go with an earlier tournament suspension and he winds up winning the player of the tournament award.

What a fucken joke. And the message to all the kids out there is..... ???

I thought the final was bloody good until being ruined in the last quarter of extra time by the French, and possibly Materazzi. They shouldn't have taken off Ribery or Henry and Zidane should have kept his head on his shoulders and not tried to implant it in an opponents chest.

France were the better team over the 120 minutes but soccer is one of those sports where dominance does not always translate into victory. And in the end I have to say that Italy were worthy victors (despite wishing they would fall over and die earlier in the tournament). They could have capitulated against the French attack but they held them out and showed balls of steel when it counted. Given they have a shit arse record with penalties it's only fair they should win one of them.

But how's this for the worst write up of a match you've ever seen:
Soccer: Cynical Italians blight World Cup final

1.00pm Monday July 10, 2006
By Mike Collett
BERLIN - The most schizophrenic soccer World Cup tournament in history ended with its snarling cynical side triumphant after Italy's penalty shootout victory over France today.

This tournament will now be remembered for the second worst final in history, littered by the phony grimaces of pain and anguish on the faces of players as they dived for fouls and feigned one injury after another. [what the?! That's the least I've seen an italian team dive and play act in my life. And the second worst final ever? The commentators were saying it was the best final since 1986 and it's certainly better than the last 4 non-events I have seen].

The smiling, laughing fans who created a party atmosphere that transformed Germany over the last month deserved better than to see the competition settled by a shootout that followed a final in which only one team - France - attempted to play anything approaching decent football [well if you ignore Italy's goal, the clearance they forced France to make off the line, the header onto the cross bar and the disallowed goal for a marginal offside then yeah... whatever].
The fact that Zinedine Zidane, playing the last match of his career, was sent off nine minutes from the end of extra time for what appeared to be extreme provocation from Italian defender Marco Materazzi underlines Italy's approach to the game [yeah, just completely ignore what he did and pin the whole lot on the Italian, these guys sledge constantly, Zidane must have heard plenty before].

They served notice of their intent in the first minute when Thierry Henry was clattered to the ground by Italian skipper Fabio Cannavaro [no, it was an innoucuous challenge where Henry was equally at fault and didn't absorb much contact at all]. He needed an ice-pack and smelling salts before he could continue [whoopdy shit].
Italian players rolled on the ground, feigned injury [this is soccer right? if you don't like it then get a job at fifa, it ain't an isolated occurence], passed balls 60 metres back [they did that once] to goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and saved their best performances for when they were dancing around the stadium with the World Cup trophy in their hands.

Buffon was at the centre of the game's most controversial incident when he ran some 40 metres to bitterly protest to a linesman about the off-the-ball incident involving Zidane and Materazzi, ironically the two goalscorers [fuck, wouldn't any decent player who had seen the incident? Gee it's so rare to see a soccer player running over to remonstrate with an official, somebody cut Buffon's hands off as punishment].
TV replays showed Zidane, with a thunderous look on his face, approach Materazzi and butt him powerfully in the chest.

Materazzi had been lying prone on the pitch for some time before Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo took any action and showed Zidane the red card [and?].

It was a record-extending 28th red card of the tournament, and the fact it marked Zidane's last ever act as a player was poignantly sad in the extreme [cry me a river].

The night had started in total contrast for Zidane and France when he chipped home a seventh-minute penalty off the crossbar to give France the lead.

It was only the second goal Italy had conceded in the competition, and meant that Zidane joined Pele, Vava and Geoff Hurst as only the fourth man to have scored three goals in the final of the World Cup following his two headers when France won the title in 1998.

Ironically he was denied a second goal just seven minutes before being sent off when Buffon made an outstanding save from a superbly executed header. It would be far better to remember that as his last contribution to his side than his dismissal.

Although they took an early lead, France never took a firm grip on the game and Italy pulled level after 19 minutes when Materazzi scored with a powerful header, but apart from a Luca Toni header that hit the bar after 36 minutes, Italy never created another chance in the opening half.

France, meanwhile, continually came forward in search of another goal although Henry and Franck Ribery were continually frustrated by the Italian defence.

Only the 1990 World Cup final has been as bad a spectacle, ironically when West Germany won in the Italian capital.

Italy reserved their worst display of the finals for the German capital and somehow emerged victorious on a night the French will want to quickly forget ["somehow"?].

Substitute David Trezeguet, who scored the golden goal winner when France beat Italy in the final of Euro 2000, was left forlorn after blasting his penalty against Buffon's bar.

Italy ended the night as world champions for the fourth time and the victory will do much to appease the anguish being felt back home before judgements in the Serie A match-fixing scandal are expected later this week.

Italians will long celebrate this success and its players will be accorded hero status for the rest of their lives.

The rest of the world will be forgiven for taking rather a different view of things. [nah, mate, just you and a few other people with heads up arses]


Warriors still going good. That's 6 good performances in a row even if they did win just 4 of them.

A win over the Eels this Saturday night and the bye points will see them move back into an extreme outside chance of the playoffs. They can really only afford one more loss for the rest of the year though because teams 6, 7 and 8 are all on 20 points and teams 9, 10 and 11 are on 18 points. At least three of those teams will surely win at least 4 or 5 of their remaining 7/8 matches.

Problem for the Warriors is that they can beat the Eels and over take them, get the bye points and then beat the Panthers and possibly overtake them, beat the Sharks, beat the Cowboys, but then it all turns to shit.

They have the Storm away (a near guaranteed loss as the Storm could well be needing that game to wrap up the minor premiership), the Roosters at home which they should win but then the Broncos away.

We could go close which is probably all we can ask for but the next two games will dictate whether it's a decent season or a crap one. Remember, despite our recent run of good form and the fact we were docked 4 points, we still have lost more games than we have won this year. Nothing to russell crowe about.

"That's the least I've seen an italian team dive and play act in my life." I agree ... by Italian standards, they were paragons of virtue, upholding the spirit of the game. They're still bad, but the French and the Portugese were also more than a little prone to amateur theatrics.

It is kinda funny to pick on the Italians for this, though if I was head-butted in the chest in the WC final, I'd be sure to fall hard and stay down too.

So yeah, whatever, a dollar each way then.

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