Zinedine Zidane...like a red card to a bull. You're supposed to head the ball, mate!
Congratulations to all Italian readers of the Dreaming Armadillo on last night’s epic victory in Berlin. Not a pretty match, but 24 years is a long time to wait and when you finally win a penalty shootout after going out to penalties on too many previous occasions the win must be all the sweeter.
The mood on the western side of the Alps will be somewhat different though. Mr Zidane, not exactly the most popular man in France will presumably be keeping his head down (no pun intended!) at the moment. In Italy he’ll be the butt (again no pun intended) of many jokes about losing one’s head. What a way to end one’s professional career. Had Zidane not been sent off he would almost certainly have taken one of the penalties in the final shoot-out. Given the man’s reputation for taking spot kicks with lethal accuracy it could be argued that he cost France the World Cup. There can be no doubt that the French captain was verbally provoked by Marco Materazzi, but a player of Zidane’s standing and maturity should surely be able to keep his cool and rise above such petty gamesmanship. Psychological tactics like those employed by Materazzi go on all the time and if a player rises to the bait then more fool him.
Questions will also be asked about the controversial decision by French coach Raymond Domenech to take off Thierry Henry towards the end when a penalty shoot-out looked increasingly likely
On the subject of the penalties now and didn’t Trezeguet’s miss look remarkably like the dubious goal scored by Geoff Hurst for England in the 1966 World Cup final. Had the Azerbaijan linesman from ’66 been officiating would France have won? I jest.
For now the moment belongs to Italy. In the wake of the scandal which has hit the Italian club scene so profoundly, this win was badly needed. For all the non-football fans out there, sick to death of all the media coverage, you must have been counting the days, waiting impatiently for the day when the World Cup would be all over for another 4 years. It is now.
Now, a third of the way through the most open Tour de France for years, who, I wonder will be wearing that coveted yellow jersey in Paris in just under a fortnight’s time?
Monday, July 10, 2006
Posted by CW at 9:53 AM