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Get your pitch fix with SI.com's writers in the World Cup Blog, a daily journal of World Cup commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
7/04/2006 07:44:00 AM

Clash of golden oldies

Luis Figo
At age 33, Portuguese captain Luis Figo has been highly effective for his team in both the performance and leadership departments.
Simon Bruty/SI

Posted by Mark Bechtel

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Looking at Wednesday's semifinal between France and Portugal, the first thing that comes to mind is: That would have been a great game six years ago.

In fact, it was a great game six years ago. In the semifinals of Euro 2000, France beat Portugal on a hotly contested PK in extra time (these were the days of the Golden Goal). It was a classic matchup: the reigning world champs taking on Portugal's "Golden Generation" at the peak of its powers.

Since then, though, the two sides haven't given us much: Both crashed out of the '02 World Cup in the group stage, Portugal after losses to the U.S. and South Korea, France without scoring a goal. Two years later, France was bounced from the European championships in the quarters, while Portugal snuck into the finals at home before losing to Greece.

Coming into Germany '06, the same label was hung by many on both squads: over the hill. But the two teams have offered a reminder that creaky bones, receding hairlines and less explosive moves aren't the only things that come with age: So does caginess.

The French especially have looked like -- pardon the cliché -- a team that knows how to win. They did just enough to qualify from a dull group (Switzerland should be barred from future tournaments on aesthetic grounds), then they flipped a switch and knocked out the most dangerous-looking team in the field, Spain, with a performance that seemingly came out of nowhere. Against Brazil, they simply had a better plan and more heart.

Portugal, on the other hand, has had a tournament that can best be described as bizarre. Apparently there's something about the boys in maroon that inspires players on opposing teams to fits of violence. Witness the bloodletting in the Netherlands matchup in the round of 16, and Wayne Rooney's attempt in the quarters to personally see to it that Ricardo Carvalho never has kids. (At this rate, one fears what Patrick Vieira might do; smuggling a truncheon onto the pitch in his sock doesn't seem like such a stretch.)

The upshot of all that madness is that we haven't really seen a quote-unquote normal game from Portugal in a big match, unless you consider a 9-on-9 finish or a performance without two of its best players against a 10-man England team to be normal. (The group stages weren't all that much more informative: The Selecção sleepwalked through a win over Angola before dispatching Iran without much trouble, and a 2-1 win over Mexico gave it the group.)

So it's tough to gauge Portugal's form right now, but it's hard to argue with the attacking talent on its roster: A squad that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco and an aging but effective Luis Figo is almost certain to create chances.

Almost certain. In its quarterfinal, France absolutely stymied Brazil. Defensive midfielders Vieira and Claude Makélélé settled in front of the back four and stifled an uncreative Brazil attack. Those two are certain to reprise their roles in the semis, making it hard to believe that offensive fireworks will fly -- especially given the fact that Portugal also likes to clog the midfield, with Maniche and Costinha playing in front of the back four.

In all likelihood, we're looking at a game that could be kind of boring at the start but opens up with the first goal -- especially if Portugal nets it and France has to push forward. (Both quarterfinals were slow affairs until something big happened: The France-Brazil game didn't get moving until France scored, and the England-Portugal game picked up when Rooney was sent off.)

So are we destined for a borefest? Not necessarily. There will be plenty of skilled players on the pitch who can single-handedly make something happen, as Zinedine Zidane did against Brazil. There’s the Stepover Kid, Ronaldo; Figo; and France's cheeky winger Franck Ribery. And once someone is on the board, it's hard to believe the game won't open up.

Les Bleus will also need Thierry Henry to do something. If he's playing up top by himself, he's going to have to be creative and -- most importantly -- he's going to have to take advantage of the chances he gets. This would be a fine time for Henry to ditch the "Can't Perform in Big Games" tag, and the guess here is he will: Portugal scores first (Maniche), Ribery answers and Henry provides the winner in extra time.


Posted: 8:07 AM   by Anonymous
I'm French and from Philly. I never expected "Les Bleus" to go that far. They barely made it to the WC, barely came out of their group and two weeks ago they were "old", "pityful", "pathetic" and suddenly you have half million people celebrating on the Champs Elysees, they are not old anymore but "experienced" and Zidane is the best soccer player that ever existed. I will just say that they have nothing to lose and especially Zidane. No pressure at all. Spain was tha game that put them back in track. Portugal will be a tough game because they are young and vicious. The ref is Mr. Larrionda (remember the 3 red cards during the US game?) and 6 French players already have a yellow card. I'm confident that Domenech will have a game plan to take the team to the final game. Him too was the worst coach two weeks ago. Pires just trashed it in a French newspaper for not taking him to Germany. What a lack of respect and patriotism. I see a 2-0 win and a final game against Germany, a team we can never beat !
Allez les Bleus !!!
Posted: 9:11 AM   by Anonymous
Agree with this analysis for the France - Portugal game. Only a very small detail: it will not be Henry 2-1 but Simao (from the bench) 1-2....
Posted: 9:39 AM   by Anonymous
I just want to let the all world to know that France will be the world champion. I would like to remind you "never underestimated the hard of the champ"
Thank you
Arlington Va
Posted: 9:47 AM   by Cátia-the Portuguese Girl
I am Portuguese and I think Portugal will win France. We may go 0-0, we may go 1-1, or probably go to penaltis, but we will absolutly win this game. And I guess we will play in the final against Germany and... we will win! :)

Our country absolutly LOVES football and we are living in pure state of optimism and believe. Our team is very motivated, they are very close to each other and they REALLY work as a team. Also, e have a great coach: Scolari. What a great leader! That's why Portugal deserve to win this World Cup.:))))
Posted: 10:06 AM   by Anonymous
I thought the same thing as Anne from Arlington--France's win against Brazil reminded me of Rudy Tomjanovich's quote after the Houston Rockets repeated.

To anonymous who said Simao will score off the bench: Simao loses the ball or falls down 4 out of 5 times he touches the ball.

To anonymous who said "Portugal will be a tough game because they are young and vicious": I guess everything's relative, huh?
Posted: 10:44 AM   by Anonymous
In my mind, France are firmly established as favorites in both this match and either the third place or final match as well, for the fact that they are the only team in the final four that has actually looked sharp in the knockout stages.

Germany dominated Sweden, but did so not by playing brilliantly but because Sweden gave one of the worst performances of the Cup; then the Germans played a dismal match against the Argentines. Italy has beaten perenial World Cup powers Australia and Ukraine... and been vulnerable in doing so. Portugal has played quality competition, but sucked the life out of the game against Holland by wasting a ridiculous amount of time (it also didn't help that Holland helped give the ref plenty of reason to not let either team get started) and then were outplayed by a ten man England side which created better chances. France, on the other hand, has looked scintillating in dispatching of Spain (essentially 3-0, the penalty was fairly dubious in my book) and dominating Brazil (1 shot on goal for the game for Brazil, and in the 93rd minute!).

Simply from a tactical standpoint, I think that the French have much more offensive talent than the Portuguese. Both teams favor a 4-2-3-1 formation, so that most likely won't make a difference. However, looking at individuals...

Henry vs. Pauleta: Both have been AWOL for long stretches in this tournament given the terrible service they've received, however, the Henry has scored three times while Pauleta has only tallied once. In addition to that, Henry is the more skilled player at the moment, having tied for the Premiership lead in goals this past season. Advantage: France

Malouda vs. C. Ronaldo: Malouda has been good, but has also been erratic with his play. Cristiano Ronaldo possesses a mess of talent, but is a little nicked up (courtesy of the Dutch). However, he played an excellent game against England, and rightfully converted his winning penalty. Advantage: Portugal

Zidane vs. Deco: Deco is rested after his suspension, and is certainly one of the best playmakers in the world. Zidane is not rested, but is certainly one of the best playmakers of all-time. Advantage: France

Ribery vs. Figo: Ribery has been France's best offensive player since the first game of the Cup. He has pace, skill, and a knack for making the right run at the right time. Figo has not played brilliantly, but seems to be doing just enough little things (read: flopping) to help his team survive and advance. This may seem like blasphemy, but... Advantage: France.

Vieira vs. Maniche: Vieira has played a pivotal role in the French attack, providing a safety outlet which the French can restart the build up while also simultaneously slowing down any counter-attacks. From what I've seen of Maniche this Cup, he likes to shoot the ball... a lot... and generally from distance. Advantage: France.

I think this game should come down to one moment of brilliance, either from Zidane, Ribery, Henry, or Deco. Judging by the playmakers, I'll take France 1-0.
Posted: 10:49 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal is good. actually very good! But the zidan and henry effect, you can`t beat that! plus the french have a wall at the back. Thuram, vieira, Gallas,.. . It would take talent and special effects to pass that wall.
Posted: 11:20 AM   by Anonymous
Actually the quote was "never underestimate the heart of a champion" which is what everybody has done the past 3 weeks with France but I guess now everyone is scared of the old warriors. "Allez Les Bleus"
Posted: 11:33 AM   by Fan de foot
I' m a frencm man from paris, France will beat Portugal and will play the final against Germany!!!!more informations on my blog adds coms if u want bye!!!
Posted: 11:41 AM   by Anonymous
Zidane has now woken up in this WC.
He is seriously switched on now.
I am serisously convinced that he is set to run the show, to retire in great style, delivering great results for his team.
I expect him and his team mates will do whatever it takes to play the Sunday game too and run the show in the Sunday match too.
Posted: 12:15 PM   by Anonymous
Don't count out the Portuguese. They have fought hard to get to this point, and unlike Spain or Brazil, will not come in overconfident.

Portugal has given up only one goal through 5 games (plus overtime vs. England). Ricardo Carvalho has played spectacular and should do a good job on Henry. Zidane has been great, but wasn't really pressured by the Brazilians. Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't 100% against England, he should be healthier and more explosive.

PORTUGAL 2 (C. Ronaldo, Deco)
FRANCE 1 (Henry)
Posted: 12:17 PM   by Anonymous
I honestly feel the french has an opportunity to make history. i see france taking it 2-1.
Posted: 1:49 PM   by Anonymous
You can always count on a sports conversation to include pointless statistics.

Portugal has only allowed one goal this world cup? And that is why they are gonna beat a France that beat Brazil and Spain?

Please. Portugal hasn't even played a real team yet (and no, Holland with 9 people and England down a man with no Rooney or Owens aren't real teams) and France has only allowed 2 goals this world cup (one of which was a penalty kick, so barely counts.)
Posted: 2:49 PM   by Anonymous
Portugal is totally unworthy of a world cup semi-final place having cheated their way there by diving, simulating, bribing referees and other acts of low deception.


France 6 Portugal 0

with 3 red cards and 8 yellow for the Portugese.
Posted: 3:08 PM   by Pieter
Unfortunately, boredom will dictate the majority of the game. Commentary during the Brazilian and French clash reflected the need for a goal and the same will be said for this semi-final game. Of course a goal will open up the field for both sides but scoring first may be more than an initial challenge or task. With the way France controlled the midfield in games with the Spanish and Brazilians, room for the Portuguese will be limited. The return of Deco to the Portugal side will limit Zizou’s effectiveness; so expect a defensive clash where both teams will use all measures at their respective disposal to ensure they don’t concede the first score. I am not saying the game will be boring but a wide open contest with an abundance of scoring opportunities seems to be far fetched.
France should advance on the shoulders of Henry or perhaps a late substitution involving Trezeguet. It is a shame that Ronaldo will have the opportunity to both showcase his undeniable skill and his unfortunately poor conduct.
Posted: 3:35 PM   by Anonymous

sorry guys buy I think that you are missing something. We have the best goalkeeper in the world, and best of all group team. I can't see so many efford in other teams. Frace is a great team, but now, we play in team. Zidane and Henry, will be a problem, but Portugal has more strengh than Frace.
Other missing fact is our coach... 4 times world champion... This is making all the diference. It did in 2004, and God... it will do now to.
Posted: 5:26 PM   by Anonymous
Also, to anonymous at 1:49, Holland played with 9 men for approximately the LAST 30 SECONDS OF THE GAME. And while England was missing players, SO WAS PORTUGAL. Last time I checked, England, Holland, and Mexico were all in the top 10--guess that doesn't qualify as real teams, huh?

I bet if I said France would win 5-0 you would call me a genious. But don't hold your breath tomorrow.
Posted: 5:55 PM   by bmunderground porkchop
1966-2006 ohh yeah its portugals time.This will be a repeat of 1994 but instead of brazil it will be portugal vs italy for the world cup finals. Theres something about portugal this year they are repeting euro 2004.. defeating giants such as england they would have defeated france in 2000 but the reason they dint dosent play anymore...nevertheless france vs portugal should be a good game, 3-1 odds penalty shots.....
Posted: 6:04 PM   by Anonymous
The Stepover Kid is going to dominate the French. Ronaldo For The WIN!!!!! It will be a good match.
Posted: 6:16 PM   by Anonymous
I say let the boys play and we will all see the outcome. France is playing well but Portugal has not come this far for nothing. I say watch out for the underdog.
Good luck to both France and Portugal. (It's not Germany that they have to watch out for!)
Posted: 6:27 PM   by Anonymous
I´m french from Lille and i´m realist: France is too scared to face Portugal team and we have a reason: If you look at the portuguese players you will see that they are less nervous and more motivated than france. One sign of that is when they play a match they are allways smilling and you feel a winner power that we don´t have (even if we win). France is too convinced about their status on World Cup (you can see it in our press interviews), but that´s not good and we will loose. Portuguese have now all brasilian´s and african´s black magic in their favor and I m felling allready that power.
Congratulations to Italy!
Posted: 6:45 PM   by Anonymous
ahem, Portugal played DOWN a man for much of the match vs. Holland and when Holland did get down to 9 men, Portugal were already down to 9 men. So you are incredibly incorrect, thus making your entire statement lack credibility.

Holland and England are two powerhouse teams. The victories over them were ugly, yes. In fact, Portugal barely squeeked by. But then gain, you never gain points for style.

Portugal's fierce character and determination will help them to "squeek by" once more.
Posted: 7:06 PM   by Anonymous
Portugal has a real opportunity to win because its players are fresher than the French oldies. Cristiano is a "desiquilibrator" , Deco is a "magician" aned, above all Ricardo, the goaler, is a "Berlin Wall". Do you remember anyone stoping three penalties (and from Lampard, Hargreaves and some 11th hour so called specialist?). The team does nopt ahve a spectacular football but then "the show is to win". Conclusion Portugal 2 - France 1
Posted: 7:12 PM   by Ricardo
To 10:44 A.M
Just a small call of attention for asmall detail in the nice (your)comparison between the players. Check where does Pauleta stand as a scorer in the french league and then compare with Henry (a great player by the way). A different issue: todays statements by Galla on the press conference regarding the Portuguese players were not exctaly elegant and gave the impression due to is uneaseness on th seat that he was passing a message. A message to influence the referee. If that is so it is a pityful thing to do. I must say that both the Portuguese press as well as the players (and coach) only had so far words of respect and admiration for the oponents. Everybody talks about fair play but apparently only applies to the others.
Posted: 7:16 PM   by Anonymous
Portugal is poised for a big performance. It is only a matter of time befor they explode.

Every one is for getting the x-factor. SCOLARI (Clearly the best coach in this cup).

France has impressed but their old legs are going to get the best of them.

Anonymous 149pm, What are you talking about Holand Was up a man most of the game and England put on its best preformace of the cup against Portugal.

My prediction: MANICHE 38' VIEIRA 81' TIAGO 101' Portugal Wins
Posted: 7:35 PM   by Anonymous
"We have the best goalkeeper in the world, and best of all group team. I can't see so many efford in other teams."

I will say this: the best goalkeeper in the world WILL play in the World Cup final... seeing as how he already clinched his spot with a brilliant effort today to shut out Germany. Ricardo is good, but he is not Buffon.

Speaking of goalkeeping, with a game that will be a midfield defensive war, I could see a mistake being the difference between the two teams. Fabien Barthez has been shaky at best thus far in this World Cup (as he always is, it seems), but a solid defense has borne most of the brunt of opposing attacks. However, I could see him making the crucial mistake to send the Portuguese through.

One other thought: if a game goes to penalties, I think that favors France. Yes, Ricardo put up an excellent performance in the shootout against England, but two Portuguese players MISSED THE GOAL COMPLETELY. The memory of that cannot be good for their psyche, and, seeing as how that's primarily what a penalty shootout is, I would expect similar results this time around. The major difference would be that France is nowhere near as incompetent taking penalties as England.
Posted: 7:35 PM   by JAP
I'm Portuguese and though France is definitely in its highest moment in a long time I still think the odds are 50-50. I personally think the talent is equal in both teams and it will be a very disputed match, but Portugal is now a cohesive team under the leadership of Felipão and I'm confident that we'll win. Felipão is great at bringing moral to the team and a nation, and I can't say how optimistic the country is.

At least I’m hopeful that we'll win, as if Portugal goes to the final my dad takes me to see the game in Berlin :) And besides, we never won, so let us have the Cup this year ;)
Posted: 7:48 PM   by NonSoccerFan
I must say that the Germany Italy game today was exciting. The players were allowed to play, that is the ref wasn't in their face for every contact made.

I stil don't understand the game but it seems more like a competitive game than I saw earlier.

Go figure.

I hope Portugal faces Italy in the finals.
Posted: 7:56 PM   by Anonymous
I am french and I would love for the FRANCE to win the world cup simply to close a lot of people's mouthes and of course because they deserve it!! I will be praying for france all day and every day before sunday!!
Posted: 8:19 PM   by Anonymous
I am absolutely French. You know what.... never underestimated French cause they are the winning team. Zizou is the best playmaker world ever have.
Posted: 8:20 PM   by Anonymous

Well, for sure some of the French press already anticipate France as new WC. But there is about 33% of chances they are right, which is much more higher than it was at the begining of the tournament (either looking at the team play or doing the math) ;-)

Actually, the whole Portugal - France match will al be about : Do France team want to win ?

If France play with same level as they did agains Brazil, Portugal will have to show us the best football they have ever played to be able to resist.

Let's see what will happen ...

Anyway, it should be a very good Football match !

Posted: 8:28 PM   by Anonymous
Portugal will win despite the usual french arrogance.
Posted: 8:43 PM   by Anonymous
I am french and I will be, of course, rooting for France. I think it will be a very exciting game, possibly one of the best games of this WC. That is, if the players play honest (no excessive diving, please, just enough to make us chuckle at your antics once in a while). Everything is possible but I hope France wins.
Posted: 9:08 PM   by Anonymous
Look for great defense on either side, but especially good goalkeeping by Ricardo. Going with Por over France 1-0.

Italy over Portugal 2-0 in the final.
Posted: 10:55 PM   by Anonymous
just like I said Italy would beat Germany, Portugal is going to win against France.
Final will be Italy x Portugal.

My feeling is that Portugal is going the be the champion. Scollari has a bright star. He took Brazil with all the problems and made of them the Champions of the World in 2002.

I bet he will do it again!
Posted: 11:12 PM   by Anonymous
Expecting a game played close to the vest, as you said, not wanting to give up the first goal (because that could be the only goal of the game).

Wishing for up the field and back down the field chances and EXCITEMENT! The game's too close for me to call.

A note: If Podolski were a few years older, he would have finished at least one of his chances today. Who will the finishers be Wednesday?
Posted: 11:16 PM   by Anonymous
The point isn't that Portugal COULDN"T beat a real team, but that they haven't yet.

Yes, Portugal had two players suspended against England, but that is nowhere near the damage that being down a man and having no Rooney/Beckham/Owen did to England... and England STILL outplayed them.

Winning on penalty kicks is not winning. It is tieing and being allowed to advance. It technically, under fifa rules, doesn't count as a win... and it probably shouldn't.

Portugal have gotten this far by diving and playing weak teams with the one exception of Holland, and that game was too absurd to indicate much. (Yes, Mexico and England are real teams in the context of the whoel world, but neighter were strong teams in terms of the world cup. Neither were ever a real contender.)

OTOH, France has beaten two real contenders. THey should be able to take Portugal and they deserve to: They are a better team on every level.

However, anything can happen in these low scoring, high card count games, so we will see. Maybe Portugal can dive their way through another round.
Posted: 12:14 AM   by Anonymous
Our country absolutly LOVES football and we are living in pure state of optimism and believe...That's why Portugal deserve to win this World Cup.:))))

I'm not sure I can believe this.

Portugal's team is a discgrace to football. They are diving drama queens and represent the biggest probelm in soccer today. They are far from being the only disgraceful team this world cup, Italy has done more than their share of diving and others as well, but anyone who truly loved football would HATE Portugal.

So I'd have to conclude that Portugese people do not love football per se, they just love the idea of winning something important like the world cup. That's fine. No different than many countries, but anyone who actually loves the game of football, not the drama of the world cup or the hairstyles of the players, but the real heart of the game, shoudl be insulted by Portugal's performance this world cup and should pray they get beaten by france.

If they advance, it is a smear on the face of soccer. An italy/portugal final would be an atrocity.
Posted: 12:19 AM   by Anonymous
Amazing...the Italians have a good flurry at the end of the game and all the accusations of diving and flopping disappear!

As per "anonymous" at 11:16pm... check your facts bud, France couldn't get a win against Swiss or Koreans in qualifying round though they did much better in knock-out round against the all-time international competition "chokers" (Spain) and a Brazil that seems to be more concerned about "Joga Bonito" as opposed "joga para ganhar" (play to win)...

I have no problem lauding ZiZou and "Les Bleus" but please give Portugal some credit for beating 3 FIFA Top-10 teams (Mexico #4, Netherlands #3, and England #10)... also they won 9 and drew 3 w/ no losses in the qualifier for the WC with a 35 GF and 5 GA...

But thanks for all that are already calling a Italy vs. France final...we like being the underdog!!!
Posted: 12:19 AM   by Anonymous
Fans from both teams seem to have forgotten one important thing. Neither team is worthy of this cup, untalented to say the least. Tactically effective yes, talented no WAY. Zidane is probably the only talented european in that continent, no jogo bonito because there aren't players to practice it. Let this cup be forgotten as fast as we can, if Italy and France make it to the finals then this is one of the cups we can wipe from soccer history. Another display of untalented floppers.
Posted: 12:30 AM   by Anonymous
The way the French play has been the best and most efficient in this World cup.The final will be France-Italy. with France as world champions.
Posted: 12:39 AM   by Anonymous
i see france going up 1-0 in extra time
the like s of zidane and henry will have a huge impact on the game. A few red and yellow cards i think will be awarded to the portugese
Posted: 12:40 AM   by Anonymous
Just hope Portugal beats France. Kind of look forward to a similar situation like Italy vs Germany, ie wait for the last 2 minutes to blow away those arrogant Frenchies...
But at the end Italy deserves the WC!!! Forza Azzurri!!!!
Posted: 12:59 AM   by Anonymous

As per "anonymous" at 11:16pm... check your facts bud, France couldn't get a win against Swiss or Koreans in qualifying round though they did much better in knock-out round against the all-time international competition "chokers" (Spain) and a Brazil that seems to be more concerned about "Joga Bonito" as opposed "joga para ganhar" (play to win)...

I have no problem lauding ZiZou and "Les Bleus" but please give Portugal some credit for beating 3 FIFA Top-10 teams (Mexico #4, Netherlands #3, and England #10)

Yes, France did fairly poorly early on (although they should have beaten Korea, as they scored two goals, but the ref missed one and didn't award it despite protest [video evidence confirmed it was a goal]) but their last two games have been excellent and Portgual's have been medicore.

Its fair to call spain a pepertual choker... but the same goes for Mexico, who are widely regarded as highly overrated. England was playing horribly by all accounts, even their own fans, and despite being down a man and missing their star players, they still outperformed Portugal on every level EXCEPT penalty kicks.

Portugal played a bizarre game against Holland and barely won.

They haven't impressed me at all.

OTOH, France dominated Brazil and though they only got one goal, they had far more opportunities and far more shots on goal than Brazil did (unlike Portugal against England) and they got three goals to Spain's one penalty kick goal.

So France has had two clear wins against two of the best teams (and fifa top teams) while Portugal has had two close games against two overrated teams and one draw but advancement with pnealty kicks against a medicore team.
Posted: 1:02 AM   by Anonymous
Amazing...the Italians have a good flurry at the end of the game and all the accusations of diving and flopping disappear!"

Not from me. Both Italy and Portugal have been a disgrace with their diving tactics this world cup.

I pray France beats portugal just to leave a solid and honest team in the final.
Posted: 1:18 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal do not deserve to be in the semi final, they cheated their way here and may well cheat their way into the final. Last time I checked Joga Bonita was portuguese, the players should lean something about it before disgracing soccer.
Posted: 1:23 AM   by Anonymous
First off, vive la France! The French team is old, but vastly experienced. I may be biased by blood, but France's performance has not surprised me in the least. I knew it would be a rough start, but I also knew that they would shine...eventually. With Germany out and Italy waiting, I think the Blue Boys are destined to raise the trophy for a second time. Portugal will faulter. Italy will cave. Aller les Bleus!
Posted: 1:47 AM   by Anonymous
When I read many of these comments I wonder if we are all watching the same World Cup.

First, the "diving" complaints. Frankly in every one of the French and Italian games at least one of their players has dived to kill a "breakaway" or to milk a penalty. In and of itself I see neither practice as a problem. They are functionally equivalent to "flopping" in an effort to draw a charge or trying to turn a pass into an ungainly shot to get free throws, or initiating contact before fading away in an effort to get an and one, or "haq a shaq." Part of the game, so get a grip already.

Nor can any non-biased observer have watched the Dutch/Portuguese game and concluded that Portugal was the dirtier side as the Dutch were instigating almost all of the conflict throughout the game. The American press loves the Dutch Total Football/Clock Work Orange legacy, yet was universally horrified by their behavior in that game. If their second biggest fans can come to that conclusion unblinkered by national loyalty that should tell the rest of y'all something.

So, with a neutral eye,

Coaching: Advantage Portugal. Scolari. Any questions?

Goalkeeping: Serious Advantage Portugal. Getting contact on 4-4 penalties is scary good. Ricardo is not prone to the mental errors that prey on his French counterpart.

Forward Attacking Play Slight advantage France. However if Portugal gets an early goal it could turn into a route.

Midfield If Zidane is on...FRANCE. if not Deco, Maniche and Figo are all playing better on average and it is a slight advantage to Portugal. Zidane's peak is unearthly though. I saw Pele as a child and he's the only comparison I have for someone who can take over a game like that.

Defense: Probably a push. Both teams have excellent defenses.

Bench: Portugal's has certainly gotten more play. That may not be a good thing though.

Stamina: Advantage France. Nine men, and then overtime and PK's. I'm thinking the Portuguese team is more likely to be tired than the French, particularly since the age difference isn't really that pronounced.

Certainly a draw is not out of the question.

Penalties: Whoever said that both of the 2 Portuguese players "missed the goal" is just wrong, and possibly blind. Roberto Baggio missed the goal. The first mistrike hit the post flush, what makes it amusing is the goalie dove the other way. The second was cleany saved by the English Goalie. Given Ricardo's performance you'd have to give the edge in a penalty shoot out to Portugal.

0-0 Portugal on PK's

3-0 Portugal

or 2-0 France

seem the most likely scenarios with whoever scores first winning, and piling on through timely counterattacks. I just figure Ricardo is good to stop one more than Barthez.
Posted: 1:48 AM   by Anonymous
The french will say I surrender and give up.The Portuguese will win because they are fighters.They play tough and the future is Portugal and Italy
Posted: 1:55 AM   by Anonymous
I am from Bangalore, India, Yes! France will make out a big difference in semis and even in finals against Italy.
Posted: 1:56 AM   by Blue Sky
I'm a Chinese from the eastern globe. I bet France team led by Zidane will win this game at last. Never underestimate "the heart of champion"!
Posted: 2:03 AM   by Anonymous
Germany displayed great potential in the world cup, we should not forget that they are a young team...Coach klinsmann did a fantastic job but germany also had a huge advantage of their home crowd. Overall germany keep it and klinsmann stay in deustchland, you might make them win in 2010. About portugal, hmmm this is one great team and I wouldnt be surprised if they win the world, yes if they win. I think everyone is not giving portugal the credit they deserved maybe because they dont have allstar famous players ...Zinidene might go home crying tommorow ..lol.
Posted: 2:09 AM   by Anonymous
I'm Chinese from Beijing. There are two football star in the French and Portugal. This is the last world cup for them. So, whatever the result is, enjoy the process and give the best backing to them. Good Luck!!!
Posted: 2:18 AM   by Anonymous
i love soccer..it is a great game and france deserved to be the world champion...
Posted: 2:18 AM   by Anonymous
I am French and I am sure that we will win that game. Portugal's "military" team will end the game with only 9 players and shootingstar Ribery will score two times. And in the final against Italy, Zidane, for its last game, will score the 1:0 inthe 88th minute. Allez la France!
Posted: 2:19 AM   by Anonymous
To "anonymous" who posted this garbage... "Posted: 2:49 PM by Anonymous
Portugal is totally unworthy of a world cup semi-final place having cheated their way there by diving, simulating, bribing referees and other acts of low deception.


France 6 Portugal 0

with 3 red cards and 8 yellow for the Portugese."

Ignorance is bliss... keep living in your dream world.. Portugal is a much better team and are playing well at the moment. Although France will be a tough test, Portugal will come out on top with a 2-1 win. I don't doubt that Henry will get his, but Ronaldo and Deco will score for Portugal. Maybe we will also see a Pauleta sighting to make it 3-1 just for you!!!!!!
Força Portugal!
Posted: 2:22 AM   by Anonymous
I am sick and tired of having on a daily basis hundreds of reports on the french team on TV. I hope Portugal beat the crap of this french soccer team tonight.
Posted: 3:03 AM   by Anonymous
Hi all!
I'm french, living in the south of France, nearby Italy, and, consequently, I would prefer to see obviously a France-Italy final because of all the atmosphere surrounding this event.
Outside of this, Portugal, for a few years, has a very competitive team and probably deserved the European title in 2004, while France, in the mean time, couldn't go very far in this competition due to their self-esteem...
I personnaly feared that they will keep the big head during this tournament, and it was so during the group stage. For France, everything is about mentality. If they are too confident, they will lose, for sure. If they keep their low profile, then, I can tell you that not one team can fairly beat them.
Concerning Portugal and their behavior, well, it is a tenacious team, and while the attitude of Ronaldo clinching at the bench might seem incorrect, he was just too stupid not to be discreet, because I can tell you that it could have been any player at his place thinking the same thing. Yet, it is true, and this world cup demonstrated once again, that Portugal can display a harsh game. I know well Costinha because he played for the team I love most, and, as a defender, he's a killer, in every sense! I hope the match will be ok, but I fear, if there is no goal at the end of the first half, a poor display of agressions and bad tackles, and french players can be very harsh too.
Anyway, I still think though that France has a better team, a better 'pack' that moves together and is very hard to stretch. One of the key will be 'fitness' but, in a semi-final, you give all your guts to go to the end. So, despite the technicity of players like Deco, Figo or Ronaldo, they will be outplayed by a group that got enough confidence to move on, but not too much, I hope, to underestimate the portuguese.
France 2 - Portugal 0
Allez les bleus ! Have a nice and fair game !
Posted: 3:31 AM   by Destro
les Blues are a great squad to watch and have the talent and the coaching to win it all. However, the Frechies are weak and will fold like their nation has through-out history...no soup for you either@!! EEEETALLIA, EEETALLIA!!
Posted: 3:38 AM   by Anonymous
easy there on the fifa rankings okay. this is the exact same rankings that said the czech were 2nd and the US were 5th. im neither portugese nor french, but i must say that portugal does not deserve to be in the semis. they are talented yes, but they are drama queens who whine about every little thing. rooney accidentally stepping on carvalho while being molested by 2 portugese defenders at the same time? ronaldo comes in and bitches. figo diving like he just lost an eye. (there goes almost all my respect for this "classy" player). sure, you can make the argument that portugal's done "enough" to win, but enough won't be good enough for a surging french team. and for the record, it should be an italy vs. germany, england vs. france semi-finals. i guess playing dirty beats playing honest. or maybe the only thing dirty is the grease in ronaldo's hair. ugh.

prediction: france 2 - 1

ribery 55', deco 70', trezeguet 85'.
Posted: 4:12 AM   by Anonymous
Good luck to both teams. However, I believe it's safe for the Italians to write off whoever wins this match.

Granted, anything can happen, I mean this is the world cup...

But i have a hard time believing either team has the equipment (including Zidan) to score a goal on Italy's Defence.
Posted: 4:14 AM   by Anonymous
Hi French friend! I'm afraid your final against Germany won't take place. Instead there will be Portugal-Italy...but I'd prefer France-Italy!!
Posted: 4:17 AM   by Anonymous
I live in France (but I'm Dutch). I'm sure France will win because they know what the word 'team-play' means and that will make the difference. I like players like Cristano Ronaldo beacause of his excellent technical skills but I think the lack of experience will be a disadvantage to him. My guess: 1-0 France wins.
Posted: 4:33 AM   by Anonymous
For the anonymous who commented on Simao's tendency to taste the pitch, you are simply referring to the most intelligent Portuguese player. Go back a few months to Anfield Rd to watch Liverpool being thrown out the Champions League by... Simao. Now you'll just have to wait a few weeks to see where Simao will land. He is certainly more effective than C. Ronaldo as the left winger without those ridiculous and selfish moves that make Ronaldo the only player in the entire squad that does not play for the team, but for himself and for his 'name'. I am a realistic Portuguese, who foresees a great final match in Berlin between Italy and France. Germany will probably beat Portugal in pk's for the 3rd place.
Posted: 4:42 AM   by Anonymous
I am from the island of Barbados in the West Indies and I am delighted with the way the World Cup is going. I support Italy and would prefer to face Portugal in the final. France is a dangerous team -- full of experience and desire and are lethal from set-pieces.
Portugal are brave brilliant and athletic, but prone to mistakes and over-enthusiasm at crucual stages.
I know the semi-final will be showdown of brain vs brawn, but I truly believe Portugal will get the narrow edge in what will be a close contest.
But whichever team wins won't be able to stop Italy from winnig its 4th World Cup.
Forza Italia!
Posted: 4:44 AM   by Anonymous
Posted: 4:45 AM   by Anonymous
This has been a World Cup of surprises,and I hope the surprises will continue until Portugal, surprise quarter-finalists, clinch the trophy.
It's absolutely incredible that Germany conceded two quick, cheap goals in the last two minutes of such a make or mar encounter.
First, it was Brazil. Now, Germany. Who knows, it may be the turn of France today.
Posted: 5:05 AM   by Anonymous
The reason why France will beat Portugal ? Experience, and that is something which is priceless !
Posted: 5:10 AM   by Elsa Dionísio
As a portuguese I was very sad yesterday when I saw a television new about Ricardo' family. The CNN reporters just recorded a traditional portuguese folklore scenes: music, horses, portuguese wine, food, etc. At the end the CNN reporter said: "here where the old/traditional meet the new/modern", and in this moment they filmed a high-way!!!!
Was this image you wanted to pass from the country?? A traditional country?? Fortunantly we still have something traditional, means we hyave history to be told, but it is nonsense to put the all country in the same register.
Well, once again that tremendous idea of superiority...
Posted: 5:13 AM   by Anonymous
I am writting from Nigeria, and I don't like how I've missed most of the matches due to ligt out.
Posted: 5:14 AM   by Anonymous
i think Portugal gonna win. it's probably firmed fact because France is not the best team anymore. they didn't win at the swiss game and Korea game. of course, Swiss and Korea are very good and strong team but Fance should win these game for prooving they are sill the best team but they couldn't. France is just lucky and their players are like a old PaPa!!. their play is so boring and not effective . in addition their team work is horrible. anyway!! Portugal gonna win since Portugal are not better than France but France has so many negative things to win.
Posted: 5:43 AM   by Anonymous
I can't stand Henri so I shouldn't root for France (love Zidane though) but the Portuguese are a bunch of diving chickens and I think France Italy will be a better final.
Posted: 5:47 AM   by Anonymous
None of these teams that are in the semi-finals really showed good soccer, especially France and Italy. That's a sort of anti-soccer that they play. Nothing to be proud of in any event. This World Cup is dominated by bad teams having easy roads to get to the finals (France, Italy, Brazil, Germany), and good teams having difficult roads to the finals. This is due to FIFA, naturally. So, in the end, bad teams are in the semi-finals, while the good teams killed off one-another in the early rounds. It's not that good a World Cup this time.
Posted: 5:58 AM   by Anonymous
Thanks for all the interesting comments.
May I just add that if Ghana was not cheated out of the WC by a biased Slovak referee, the Black Stars would certainly have caused a very very big stir!!! Such refereeing should not be allowed by FIFA.
Posted: 5:59 AM   by Anonymous
I'm Italian. I expect France will win the match. So, the final against Italy will be more exciting.
Posted: 6:01 AM   by Snitarol
Portugal will easily win 3-0 (Nuno Gomes, Simão and Miguel will score)
The french don't deserve to be at this stage, after playing so badly against Switzerland, Korea and Togo...

Scolari is the best coach in the world
Posted: 6:04 AM   by Anonymous
Anonymous 12:14 took the words out of my mouth!!

I'm a huge world cup fan and have been watching every single game but if Portugal goes through to final playing Italy I'm not even going to bother watching it. Portugal playing the final would be a disgrace for football. They're the biggest cheats and actors on the pitch and will do anything but play decent football to win.

It's embarrassing to watch them play and I feel sorry for people in Portugal that they are represented by players that are not capable of fair play whatsoever. They didn't not earn their place in the semis at all and everyone that knows a bit about football will agree on that.

If you take away all the diving, crying, complaining and acting you're left with a team that plays average football but that's far from being good. Shame on Portugal - an opinion that's widely spread across Europe since everyone's been watching them cheating their way through.
Posted: 6:22 AM   by Anonymous
The winner:

New Bedford, MA 2 France 1

I mean Portugal 2 France 1.
Posted: 6:24 AM   by Anonymous
I will resume what will happen in a single word...DECO!
Posted: 6:30 AM   by Anonymous
I wish French will win the World Cup^^
Posted: 6:38 AM   by Anonymous
Mmm nobody thought France would make it this far... but hey they did!

If it ever goes to penalties then chances are Portugal wins it with their super fast goalkeeper.

France should win this after their last performance but you never know... Portugal might look better on paper and Scolari is a damn good coach.

However there's something magic about this french team... I have a feeling zizou will retire with 2 stars on his shirt ;).

Whatever the outcome it will be a good football game!

Allez les bleus!
Allez les vieux!

ps Nobody should underestimate zizou, he is a born footballer, he is an eternal footballer - however one man doesn't always make a difference

pps Really happy Italia are in the final, they play beautiful football (apart for the diving). In my opinion they outclassed Germany on many occasions.
Posted: 6:43 AM   by Anonymous
Its clear from the performance of the french team that they will certainly win the WC.
Clearly France will beat Portugal 2:0 and end the final 1:0 (final goal from Henry)
Posted: 6:58 AM   by André
I think the french will play well, but Portugal will play better. France will score a goal but Portugal will score more. Zidane will be good but Deco is the best.
Please tell me, you arrogant french people: you say that Portugal hasn't had a serious match yet and that we only beated weak teams... What about those ties against Switzerland and South Korea? Are these the better teams? I think you will really play against Germany, as you wishd before... On saturday. Why didn't you believe in your team in the beginning of the world cup and now you believe? Just because you had the luck of winning 2 matches? Every single portuguese has been supporting Portugal since the beggining. We are one will you are 60 million. Just you wait.
Força Portugal!
Posted: 7:03 AM   by Anonymous
Bravo to France for taking it to this level. A real comeback team, I'm trying not to say they will win the world cup. I just hope Sarkozy sees the high quality of immigrants who will be doing France yet another great favor.

Posted: 7:19 AM   by Anonymous
Both Portugal and France are good teams.

The game should be good as long as they both play the ball. Portugal does a lot of simulations (Deco mainly). Gallas remarks during the interview were based on this (nobody was trying to influence anynody) it is a realistic comment.
Portugal does not really play as a team; the individuals are good but the best team will be the one playing together.
If the ref. is fair we will have a good match with France winning in the end - because they have strong technical individuals hungry to win and playing together as a team.
Posted: 7:25 AM   by Anonymous
for the anonymous 12:14AM
a person that say ,what u did ,its really a person that not love soccer and dont have respect for others. because of that portugal should win and be in the final with italy that made a great match. a person cant hate a country because of sports.
portugal 2 - o france
figos goal to show he can stil play football ande hte other is from cristiano ronaldo to shut the french
the french yeam its desgrace
Posted: 7:29 AM   by André - Portugal
As a portuguese, I really want revenge for the 84 and 2000 extra-times.
And today is the day, they won´t beat us a 3rd time on the semis.
A good sign, is that French team fears Portugal, just listen to theirs declarations yesterday.

I believe it will be a 3-0 win either way, it won´t be boring today
Posted: 7:43 AM   by Anonymous
Geez, how many times does Henry have to ''ditch his 'Can't perform in big games'' to used you own words. I thought he did after scoring a masterpiece in Ireland (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5r86ClXkOM)or his goal vs Real Madrid in the Champions League semi final (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EyySgpRGL8). and how many goals has he scored vs Man U or Chelsea? Arent those big games?? And oh by the way you mentioned the semi final at euro 2000. Well guess who saved France in that game? Nope not Zidane, yes Henry tied the game in the 2nd half. Had he not scored, France would have lost. Oh last weekend, didn't Henry score vs Brazil. I mean come on, saying Henry doesn't perform in big games is simply ridiculous.
Posted: 7:52 AM   by Anonymous
this world cup has much to do with history and i believe the french will do it 1-0. Zizou wil be the man of the match.
Posted: 7:52 AM   by Anonymous
From an European.

Portual History:"European Race"

'Age of Discovery': The discovery of Brazil was an episode in the creation of a Portuguese commercial empire which in less than a hundred years extended to four continents...Americas (north,south), Africa and Asia...

After World War II, Portugal began abandoning its colonies. The Portuguese overseas empire finally came to an end when Portugal handed Macau over to China in 1999.

"Age of Winnings".. Now, I think that Portugal will go for the Age of winnings. Starting with football.

Posted: 8:17 AM   by Anonymous
I believe that FIFA would prefer that Italy be the champions. With Larrionda as referee, that result becomes highly likely.

Expect a horribly officated game today, with numerous yellows on both sides. Larrionda will have undue influence on the result, and I expect to see France move on... but with three starters to miss the final due to accumulated yellows.

Italy will face a seriously depleted French squad in the final, and will have a fairly easy victory thanks to another Larrionda fiasco in the semi-final.
Posted: 8:22 AM   by Paulo
I am Portuguese, that is the onlçy reason that makes me believe we will win. I could go on for ever with technical analysis of both teams, but they seem equaly balanced to me. So, the only difference will come from the hearts of the players and millions of fans, for that I wish my country will be the next world champion. Força Portugal
Posted: 8:33 AM   by Anonymous
I believe that France will deffinitly win against Portugal. They easily beat Brazil and they will do the same for Portugal. That's it, that's all. No questions asked. France will win.
Posted: 8:34 AM   by Anonymous
I have been watching several Portugal games and I think they personalise anti football:
They try to cheat the referee all the time, ask the referee to show yellow cards, disrupt the game with all kinds of ways to intimidate the other side. No "lets make friends" or soccer joy whatsoever, whereas footbaal is such a beautiful game! Portugal should be ashamed!
Posted: 8:39 AM   by Anonymous
I'm also scure that French or Portugal team will win the final game against Germany, I see a 15-0.

Ciao-Ciao a tutti

If the French are arrogant, what are you ???
Posted: 8:51 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal is definitely looking to cash in with its "golden generation" assembled together probably for the last time. The French though are out to prove that they are better that the early exit in the previous World Cup was just a bad day at the office.
The Poprtuguese probably outgun France and especially with a more experienced coach in Scholari but Zidane looks like ke is on a mission. On the field, grit, flash and power goes with Portugal but strategy and implementation of that strategy goes with France.
France 1-0 with Zidane creating the goal.
Posted: 8:56 AM   by Anonymous
All real football lovers will support France tonight for the beauty of their game, the talent of Zidane and the glory of their last victories (Spain+Brazil).

France has an inspiring game and scores beautiful goals (like the volley kick against brazil)..while portuguese have shown nothing else than provocation and diving.

God bless "les bleus" and the beauty of football !!!
Posted: 9:02 AM   by Anonymous
Sorry, you "ALL" forgot something,PORTUGAL WINS THE WORLD CUP.
O Caneco é nosso.

Posted: 9:11 AM   by Anonymous
Let us be freaking honest about the portuguese. Everyone comments that they are rude, vicious as some idiot said, and arrogant, oh yes, they dive. Really open your stupid eyes and look at the games in the world cup. Were the portuguese the only ones that did that? And bribing referees, how dumb can you be by saying that? Grow up. Game is a game, and everyone, french, italians, portuguese, whatever will fake falls, try to get advantage over the adversary. Do me a favor, stop listening what the british and frenchg media says because seriously, they are trying to make portugal look bad because they lost or they are playing them. believe me, if england had gone through, the french would be talking about them now and vice versa as the germans did about the italians.
And on that game, italians played fair and better than the germans. So shut up with the stupid, nonsense comments and let the teams play the game.

No predictions on my side. All i ask is for a fair and balanced game and let the best team win.
Posted: 9:23 AM   by Anonymous
The french are done. Portugal will show them how to play football and take care of one or two players (Zidane and Henry). something Brazil ans Spain haven't done and paid the consequences for it.
The french goalie is shakey at the very least and Cristiano Ronaldo IS a phenomenon and given is only 21 we'll hear a lot about him in years to come.

If you're looking for talent in the final Italy-Portugal look no farther. Totti, Toni, Cannavaro, Ronaldo, Figo, Buffon and many others should be just enough for a good game.

For whoever thinks Italy got lucky in the last minute of overtime I suggest they review the game. If they don't think they need and want to underestimate Italy once again, that's better for us. Too bad Scolari and his team won't do that!
Posted: 9:36 AM   by Anonymous
It will be a amazing game, of that we can be certain, who will win that is the question. Althougt the French may seem to be the favorites the Portugueses will without a dought win the game today and will also beat Italy on Sunday. Go Portugal!!!
Posted: 9:37 AM   by Joe
I am looking forward to seeing Zidane play one more time but there are a host of players that could swing the match for either team.

Being an Italy fan, I have never liked either of these teams, or Germany for that matter, but all three have won me over with their heart and skill.

Germany played over their heads in the face of criticism at home, France has raised their game to a spectacular level and Portugal has arguably had the toughest path through the knockout rounds starting with having to face the Netherlands.

However it works out, it has been a great World Cup and I am looking forward to today's match and the final.
Posted: 9:51 AM   by Anonymous
"I see a 2-0 win and a final game against Germany, a team we can never beat!!!"
You've chose your oponent right, but the game you'll play, it will be the 3º and 4º Place!!!
Posted: 9:55 AM   by Anonymous
ITALY vs PORTUGAL - sorry France, you will have to wait another 4 years - see you in S.A,FORCA PORTUGAL,FORZA ITALIA
Posted: 9:58 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal has been playing about as consistently as possible for their type of game in the WC. France has not been consistent and there is the danger. With inconsistency you can be a hero (vs. Brasil) or potentially the typical French team of recent years. Zidane is a great and absolutely fantastic player but anyone who says he is the greatest who existed ever is nothing more than an ignorant Frenchman.
Posted: 9:59 AM   by Thomas
Zidane's game control, C.Ronaldo's scintillating runs, Henry breaking 1 offsides trap for 1-on-1 with the keeper, Deco's touch and vision, Ribery's speed and passion..

Based on current form, and not expectation (unlike the expected Brazil-England semis where both teams failed miserably).. these are the makings of a wonderful game!

Haters who think high scoring games are good football games will be disappointed, as it'll be a 1-0 win for the French, but nothing short of exciting with the talent and current form of both teams!
Posted: 9:59 AM   by Anonymous
France cannot win the finals
Posted: 10:04 AM   by Chibra
I said it before the the French beat Brazil, that if Brazil play the French team the way they played Ghana they will lose. I see a France - Italy finals. With France going all the way
Posted: 10:11 AM   by Anonymous
well , lets congradulate both teams first for making it to the semi finals.congrats france!!!!congrats portugal!!!!i say they both played really well, but i am cheering for france, but i dont mean that portugal is bad, they are really good too because they have a good coach and good players. but at the same time,france has really good players too, i mean Zinedane is really good and so is henry. but to tell the truth i would like france to win because i am a fan of thiers. i think in the game it will be always tied eccept for the tied shoot outs and i think thats where france will starts to rise and shine. but lets see the game and see who will win!!! good luck to both teams!!!!play good and goodluck!!!
Posted: 10:13 AM   by Italian
italy all the way
Posted: 10:15 AM   by Anonymous
Why the rip on Vieira, if I might ask anyone to reply to?
Posted: 10:19 AM   by Anonymous
I,m south african and strongly believe that the french team going to win the world cup.Reason: "les Bleus is peeking at the right time in the world cup, and I believe that we has yet to see the best of Thierry(va va voom)Henry. For the people around the world, thats what we call him in south africa
Posted: 10:21 AM   by Anonymous
Zidane is breathtaking. After all the talk prior to the world cup about how good Ronaldinho is, I haven't been more impressed with any single player in the WC then perhaps Italy's defender Cannavaro, who completely shut down two of the world's best strikers yesterday in Klose and Podolski. France beats Portugal 1-0 on a fantastic play by Zidane, and then we all get to see the final we want; Cannavaro and the amazing Gigi Buffon going against the last stand for Zidane and France.
Posted: 10:21 AM   by Anonymous
What a difference a change of scene makes. France wins in '98, makes an early exit in '02, and plays in the semi-finals in '04. The difference? European turf. Play Brazil vs. France anywhere but Europe and Brazil wins 8 out of 10. Thierry Henry vs. Ronaldinho? Give me a break! FIFA's clear but unstated preference for an all-European semi-final makes good theater on the continent but a disappointment elsewhere. Hardly the world's best in the final four.
Posted: 10:24 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal is dynamic, young, and skillsful soccer team. It is joyful to watch them play a wonderful soccer game. In constract, France is boring, old soccer team. France will play a boring game but they will be a winner at the end. Soccer is boring! The worst team is the winner.

I think it is time to renovation the rule of the game. How? See below:

1. Eliminate the offside rule? Why? Give the offenders more chance to score!

2. Stop the clock when there is a dead ball.

3. Review the play before the referee making decision. This will rule out most of the bad calls.

4. Add more referees. 10, 12 eyes are much better than 2 eyes.

5. Eliminate the substitution rules. How? When there is a dead ball, a team can replace 1 or 11 players as they want.

6. Give the team 2 30-second time-out every half for the team to regroup itself.

7. Be physical. Sports is about physical.

Washington D.C.
Posted: 10:25 AM   by Ana
Portuguese from Mass (SURPRISE!), and absolutely NOT watching the World Cup due to superstition. Getting scores from the blog or fellow fans. No matter what the score in this final matchup, Portugal will always be #1 in soccer!!
Posted: 10:27 AM   by Go France
France will win 2-0 Henry scores 1. France will win it all.
Posted: 10:30 AM   by Anonymous
maybe euro teams dont play like brazil with their fancy footwork but soccer is much more than that. For someone to say some teams don't deserve to win because they dont make highlight moves or nice little tricks is totally ignorant and biased.
Posted: 10:31 AM   by Go France
France will win 2-1. Henry will score both goals for the franch and ronaldo will score 1 for portugal. Go France!!!!!
Posted: 10:37 AM   by Anonymous
I see Portugal winning 2-0
Posted: 10:37 AM   by Anonymous
Vive la France ! I predict Les Bleus will beat Portugal 3-0 , roll over the Italians and take the title... as they should !
Posted: 10:40 AM   by Anonymous
I dont agree with yoour analisys regarding the portuguese team. Back in 2000, they had a bad defense line and defensive midfield. Now they have one of the best defences and even the midfield and wings are much better.
Posted: 10:41 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal will probably loose against France, but that
again, alot of people said Germany would demolish Italy, so who knows whats gonna happen. I was hoping for a Germany vs. Brazil final, but, it didnt happen. I hope Its gonna be Italy vs. France for the final, that would be fun to watch.
Posted: 10:55 AM   by Anonymous
Scolari will appoint a Zidane's stopper, and creative midfilders will lead Portugal to Berlin.
Posted: 10:58 AM   by Anonymous
Don't forget that Portugal v. France wil be presided over by Jorge Larrionda- the notoriously incompetent Uruguayan referee who never saw a red card he didn't like. This game could easily be ruined for either side by a frivolous red or second yellow thatturns an otherwise epic match into a one-sided travesty.

I'm a devoated fan of the Azzuri, but I would be dissapointed to see the Italians win their 4th World Cup by defeating a Portugese or French team that had been sabotaged by poor officiating.

Here's to hoping the players decide this game and not the referee!
Posted: 11:01 AM   by Anonymous
I love getting on here and seeing all of the arguments about who's team is better. Cold hard facts everybody, France is a better team. They are here to play the game. Not try and cry out for penalties for getting schooled by the "old legs" of the French. Zidane IS the best forward the world has ever seen besides Cisse. All of the other teams that have faced the French have been very fortunate that he was not able to play. Having said that, because of his absence I believe the French are doing quite well. They may be old enough to father half of the Portuguese team, but they are seasoned vetrans of the sport. Their defense is unparalleled, having Thuram, Vieira, and Gallas and with the striking capabilities of Henry, Zidane, and Ribery this should prove to be an all out victory for the French. Ricardo will be no match for the French opposition. Boring game? I think not. Start to finish I see an exciting game and a win for the French. Bottom line: it takes more than a Keeper, a Coach, and Crying to be a champ.
Posted: 11:04 AM   by Anonymous
Good luck to both teams!
Posted: 11:10 AM   by Anonymous
I'm a Ghanaian.
I am more interested in the finals for which Italy has qualified already beating host nation Germany 2-0 at the last minute of the second half of the extra time. my bet is that France will go on to the finals and then beat Italy to take this years world cup.

i'll give anything to watch the French deal a blow at the Italians
Posted: 11:15 AM   by Anonymous
Where is Trezequet? Did he already get relegated to Serie C before Juventus? I only saw him once this tornament. It may not be a bad time to put him up front with Henry, for what it's worth he's not as bad as his lack of time on the pitch might imply.
Posted: 11:18 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal 15 - France Zero

With 14 goals from the players and one from the Referee that is also for Portugal :)
Posted: 11:19 AM   by Anonymous
Zidane is a great player but compared to Figo...who was the only galactico in real during all the time he spend in madrid. Zidane is a great player, one of the bests, but Figo is more regular...you will see the diference.

"but anyone who truly loved football would HATE Portugal."

Please...go see who scored the most goals in the qualification round for the WC. See who played the best football in euro2000 and how we were sent home, check why we didn't go to the WC98, who was the best team in euro2004, in WC66 again...who played "jogo bonito". And we never won anything.
So sorry if this time we are playing with weapons other played against us!
Want to see football? go see portugal 7 - Russia 1...a year ago I think.
Posted: 11:23 AM   by Anonymous
Ehm, to all the Portuguese/French mates selling the bear's (Italy) skin before having killed it, may I remind you the words I read here a few days ago:
"Posted: 5:54 PM by Anonymous
Germany is the best team in this tournament. And there`s nobody who can stop them. Italy plays a very boring and somtimes a terrible football. They
have no chance agains germany. The germans have more power and they`re faster. And the unbeliveable german fans are screaming 120 minutes. You´ll
see it..... At the end the germans win, ever...."

beware :)
Posted: 11:23 AM   by Anonymous
One thing that keeps coming up in the blog is that Portugal won by diving. Diving and other trickery is part of the game, for the ones that are soccer challenged. The problem, I believe, is that the so called experts never expected Portugal to go this far and so what they are doing now is blaming and downgrading them. I don't care how ugly games are, the fact is that Portugal beat Mexico, Netherlands, England so to me that counts for something. People need to understand and analyze the game not simply come up with excuses about, no Rooney, no Bechham etc. You don't get to this point by faking, you convert goals when opportunities arise. France has not played their best football, but all of a sudden, wow they beat Brasil and they are now a powerhouse. The fact is any team can win this competition, what happen to Greece Euro 04 champs, they did not even show up.I like France but I predict Portugal will win. "Vive la France", "Viva Portugal"
Posted: 11:26 AM   by Anonymous
Today, it will be a great game! Portugal will beat France... I am sure of it.. And will be the world champion.

Voçês conseguem rapazes. Força Portugal!!!
Posted: 11:30 AM   by Anonymous
Good luck to Port and France.

I'll be pulling for Portugal as I've always been a Figo fan.
Posted: 11:32 AM   by Anonymous
Congratulations Italia.
Good luck to Portugal today, I know we can do it.
Posted: 11:39 AM   by Anonymous
Scolari will lead Portugal to victory.
Posted: 11:42 AM   by Anonymous
This has been a World Cup of the underdogs it seems. I'm an American, and have watched nearly every game I can. When it comes to skill, Portugal is a littler dirtier, and I believe for this reason they will take the game. France is too old, and they don't seem to have the heart they used to to win this thing.

It will be Italy v. Portugal in the final, and that is a game that will be hard to predict.
Posted: 11:42 AM   by Anonymous
I have always been an American that followed sports in this country. I have watched the World Cup matches and I can see the beauty and skill that the players demonstrate. It is my impression that Americans do not appreciate the true athletic skills and ability that these teams possess.
Posted: 11:45 AM   by Anonymous
Allez les bleus !!!
Rendez vous en finale avec l'Italie...

L'équipe du portugal est trop violente, et trop de joueurs simulent...

J'espère juste qu'ils ne casseront pas Zidane et Henry !!

Superflux ;-) (french guy from paris)
Allez les bleus !!!
Posted: 11:48 AM   by Anonymous
It seems to me that everyone who is perdicting France to beat Portugal are the same ones that said Germany would win against Italy.

VIVA PORTUGAL!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 11:48 AM   by Anonymous
as an avid soccer watcher and player for all my life.. I love the game. And on the regular leagues during the year I enjoy seeing what real soccer is. I do not think it is fair to rag on the Portuguese players when most of them are on foreign leagues and are amazing players. So what would make their skill any less just because they happen to be playing for their country and not for others? Figo is good no matter where he plays... so is Ronaldo and Pauletta and Deco and Tiago and Simao... the list goes on... so why are people saying that Portugal doesn't deserve to be going this far. We aren't living in 1966 or playing with the same team. Portugal has talented players who are fighting to show that... the love of the game is still there.
Posted: 11:53 AM   by Anonymous
I'm sick of hearing all these people talking about how Zidane is the best player in the game now, or ever for that matter. Yes, he is, for the most part, a solid player whom any coach would be glad to have on his team. Just because he had one great game against Brazil dosn't make him "the geratest". In the game today players like Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, and even though young, Lionel Messi, bring to the game a level of playing that I havn't seen since Deigo Maradona.
Posted: 11:56 AM   by Anonymous
Anybody but France!
Posted: 12:06 PM   by Anonymous
France will win Portugal and they will win Italy. Let's traumatize all Europe. Again...
Posted: 12:08 PM   by J-Bone
I'm thinking this will be a Portugal VS Italy final. Portugal has a way of causing a lot of drama and problems for opposing teams by frustrating them with their antics. The same goes for Italy, they frustrated the crap out of the Germans. I think the French will come in on a high note after knocking out the Brazilians (Which they have earned to) but maybe not on the right note. This will be a game of counter-attacking and I think we can count on Zidane causing problems, but I don't think he will be the factor in this. Maniche should come out flying and hopefully put one in the back of the net late in the first around the 42'. My guess is a 2-1 win over the French. Hopefully this streak of good play has come to an end for France.
Posted: 12:11 PM   by Ramon
The French seem to be building as the tournament progresses. If that remains the case then we can expect them to triumph against a gritty Portugal team and play Italy in the final. I am not convinced though that Zidane can repeat his magic of the previous game (I sincerely hope he can as his biggest supporter). Age implies longer recovery time. If however the French and Henri can beat the offside trap I see France 3 Portugal 1. Allez les Bleus!
Posted: 12:14 PM   by Anonymous
The French are the most disgusting people on the planet!!! As much as I want Portugal to beat them, I hope the French play Italy, my favorite country! And I pray that the Italians BEAT those arrogant French once and for all...let them know the Italians ARE BETTER than the French, not only in sports, but in everything they do!!!!VIVA ITALIA
Posted: 12:25 PM   by Anonymous
french are wrong, they will not be playing Germany in WC..they are scared as they are to fight the war....they will be watching Port & Ital for WC with Portugal on top.
Posted: 12:27 PM   by Greg
Greetings to Portuguese and French fans. Being Hellenas (Greek) I would like to be playing both teams in the final (can you imagine Greece playing Portugal in a semi or final?). Sorry to bring back memories. Next World Cup I guess... I predict OT and Portuguese win in PKs. Sorry French folks. Only one gets to play the azzuri...
Posted: 12:27 PM   by jimstam
Pires trashed Domenech and I'll net he roots for Portugal as he is of Protuguese decent as are a hundred thousand Parisians.
Posted: 12:28 PM   by Anonymous
I hope France win tonight and go onto to win the tournament, as a neutral (I'm English) at the start of the tournament I thought France had little chance of making an impact, bearing in mind the average season that both Zidane and Vieira had. But both these guys have really rolled back the years, with Vieira showing the form that he displayed at Arsenal, and Zidane using his cunning and guile in attack. I think Thierry Henry needs to show more, he scored a fine goal against Brazil, but we haven't seen the same Henry that single handedly in the past has destroyed the likes or Real Madrid, Inter, Manchester United and Roma. I believe if he brings his A game then he is simply unstoppable. Franck Ribery could also be crucial, he had a slow start but over the last two games has really played well, and there seems to be a real fire about him. My only real worry is France picking up yellow cards in the Portugal game, and losing key players for the final, otherwise I hope they go all the way.

A football fan!
Posted: 12:30 PM   by Anonymous
The Portughese are still in shock after loosing their opening game at home in 2004 and also the Championship game also at home to Greece. They lost to Greece twice at home. This was only two yrs ago.
I like their players, and I now give them the advantage primarily because of a fresh Deco and Costinha who should give Zizou a hard time.
By the way, who was their coach when they lost those two big games in their home soil to Greece in 2004?
Posted: 12:36 PM   by Anonymous
Portugal lost their Opening AND Championship game at Home to Greece in 2004. This was only two yrs ago!
I give them the advantage vs France primarily because of a fresh Deco and Costinha who should give Zizou a hard time in dispersing high efficiency balls.
By the way, who was their coach when they lost those two home games to Greece in Euro 2004?
Hi, I'm a catholic Indian with Portuguese roots, spent most of my childhood in an Arab country, playing soccer day and night. Now I'm in the US, married to an American with French/Morrocan/Irish roots. Needless to say, I really dont have a favorite here between FRA vs. PRT. Portugal has not had any great games coming out of the group. That game again England was pretty dead even. France on the other hand, a team that was kinda fading outta the list of football elites, has redeemed itself with those phenomenal victories over Spain and Brazil. As long as Zidane is on the field, i predict France to take the cup home again. Although he's getting old and little slow, he is certainly got the moves, and definitely the team playmaker.
Posted: 12:39 PM   by Anonymous
I'm Portuguese and proud to be.. a BIG THANKS TO THE TEAM of "zesalois" that are making they countrymen proud regarless of the whole thing finishes.

Of course since the french are better at everything our team is goind as the underdogs I wish them well even compeeting against the "french who are the best at everything".

Knowing the portuguese culinary tradition and how humble its people are, it would be a good idea for the portuguese to supply the teams lunch by bring in the "sardines" for the bbq and let the french bring their best wine ..... and let them drink until they are all drunk .. afterwards have the game with this strategy the portugas would have a chance of winning against the "blue cocks" of france.

May the team that better plays win.. not always the case.

If I dont came back with more strategies its becaus we did not win .. but it was a hell of a party while it lasted.

ZeSalois thanks for the memories and how proud you made us feel ...


Ps bejinhos pras meninas !!!
Posted: 12:40 PM   by Anonymous
I KNOW THAT french is good but i think portugal is better! Italy is going to get kicked out by portugal!! like common how much do u really think Italy players payed the ref!
Can we get some respect for Italy already. They are going to take the Cup home with them. It innevitable.
Posted: 12:42 PM   by Anonymous
I'm sick of Portugal's theatrics. Allez France!!! Vai France!!! Go France!!!
Posted: 12:45 PM   by Anonymous
"Portugal is totally unworthy of a world cup semi-final place having cheated their way there by diving, simulating, bribing referees and other acts of low deception."

LMAO, great description, of ITALY, duh!!!! Portugal is in the semi simply by beating all their opponents no matter how difficult they may or may not have been. Italy is the team of poor actors, divers and whiners not Portugal.
Posted: 12:45 PM   by Anonymous
The French must bring their "best game" to beat Portugal. It's time for Henry to show up and perform like he does for Arsenal. If not, Ribery will have to carry the load (again) for France. Deco is the wild card...if he brings his playmaking skills, look out France.
Posted: 12:48 PM   by Anonymous
I think the French will win. That is, if they don't fall victim of Portugal's dirty tricks that killed Holland and England.

I'm sure Portuguese players will do it again: irritating, diving, injury faking acting, pusuading referees, etc, etc. If the French can't control themselves, they are likely to become yet another victim.

I hope France will send the Portuguese home, as I expect the final between Italy and France will be exciting. If Portugal is in the final, I doublt it will turn out to be another ugly match.
Posted: 12:50 PM   by Anonymous
Italy will beat France in the finals, 3-0
Posted: 12:51 PM   by Anonymous
Let's make the french cry.
Posted: 12:51 PM   by Anonymous
I am a french from New York. I like french fries from mcdonalds.
go port chops!
Posted: 12:53 PM   by Anonymous
I think the French will win. That is, if they don't fall victim of Portugal's dirty tricks that killed Holland and England.

I'm sure Portuguese players will do it again: irritating, diving, injury faking acting, pusuading referees, etc, etc. If the French can't control themselves, they are likely to become yet another victim.

I hope France will send the Portuguese home, as I expect the final between Italy and France will be exciting. If Portugal is in the final, I doublt it will turn out to be another ugly match.
Posted: 12:55 PM   by Anonymous
I think this match will be like France-Spain , portugal will scores first and france will goal by 2 or 3. Good luck !

Allez les bleus ! :O )
Posted: 1:12 PM   by balinha™
Well i'm a football fan to say the least and i'm just shocked by the atrocities some people say...
First i'll talk about the fact that it seems that portugal is a "diving" and lets say "false" team... well as far as i can remember Italy only made it by the so called "poor poor" Aussie team because of a "dive" and an unbelievable call from the ref.
Then the comparism by players... although i don't agree with all of them i can admit them to be true, that being said football is a team sport and the fact that the portuguese mid-field is the same that took portugal to the euro 2004 final and FC Porto to winning the Champions League have got to count for something.
I don't really think either team has a great goalkeeper, although i admit Ricardo was great in the penalties against England the truth is he isn't that good a goalie.
I would say a tough game and i would maybe go for the underdogs because i believe they want it more... Portugal to go all the way.
Posted: 1:13 PM   by Anonymous
Vive La France!
but may the best team win!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 1:22 PM   by Anonymous
I've watched all games in this 06 world cup and would like to make the following comments: I think the ultimate winners are those who displayed both talent and chemistry. As examples, take Germany where talent was just superb but chemistry between players was horrible. Italy on the other hand displayed very talented players with excellent chemistry or team work. France, has the most talented players of all (each player is an elite in Europe's most pretigeous clubs). They started very slow and progressed very fast toward the end because players atarted to have good chemistry between them. If you consider these two attributes for each of France and Portugal, it becomes easy to predict a winner!!
Posted: 1:33 PM   by Anonymous
I'm french and I'm proud of my Team, they shown to the world a good face of the french. They never underestimated the other team and they aren't arrogante like I have seen in a previous comments.
I would say the best team will win, I hope that will be the French team but I'm sure that will be very difficult this match will really a fight !!
"Allés les bleus !!!!"
Posted: 1:40 PM   by Anonymous
Just to let people kno...it's Italy in the finals not Germany. (to all those people saying their team [either france or portugal] will play germany in the final) It's italy in the finals soo far!!!!!
Posted: 8:16 PM   by george
why not choose the best divers in the tournament? it would be far more creative and it would add theatre to a very theatrical world cup! besides more games have been decided on diving than fair play ( what a corrupted concept ) for the final you wouldnt need a referee but a panel of judges to give points for the best "simulation". yes italy vs france is looming as a classic -- classic theatre.