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7/04/2006 07:27:00 PM
Italy's perfect setup
Andrea Pirlo skillfully assisted on the first of Italy's two goals late in overtime.
Posted by Grant Wahl
DORTMUND, Germany -- Thank you, Andrea Pirlo.
Thank you for saving us from another drab, scoreless march to penalty kicks. Thank you for giving the World Cup an offensive spark that (except for a few moments of genius from Zinédine Zidane) has been sorely missing since the second round.
Thank you for making Tuesday night's semifinal here a night to remember, even for the neutral fans who were aching to see something, anything resembling entertaining soccer.
Granted, it took you 119 minutes to make your mark, but when you did it was a thing of beauty. Receiving the ball at your foot after a cleared Italian corner kick, you could have done the normal thing and just fired a harmless shot into a clogged penalty box.
But you didn't. Instead, you turned and paused, luring German defender Christoph Metzelder into a trap. As soon as Metzelder advanced, you dropped a delicate little pass on the ground to teammate Fabio Grosso (whom Metzelder had just left open), and Grosso one-timed a curling pinpoint blast just inside Jens Lehmann's left post.
Subtle. Sublime. Perfect.
And deserved. Grosso's celebration -- a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, head-shaking burst of joy -- called to mind Marco Tardelli's now-classic display following his goal in Italy's 1982 World Cup final victory against the Germans. (Remember the intro to ABC's Wide World of Sports?)
And while there will be cynics who say that Italy's path to the 2006 World Cup final has been a friendly one -- knockout-round games against Australia, Ukraine and Germany (instead of penalty-kick victim Argentina, which had played the Cup's best soccer) -- that would be missing the point.
The fact is, Italy won Group E, the most difficult group of the tournament. The fact is, Italy has not allowed a goal scored by another team in six games. (Only the United States has found the back of Italy's net, and that was an own-goal by Cristian Zaccardo.) The fact is, Italy has demonstrated a remarkable ability to overcome off-the-field adversity, from an ongoing scandal investigation in Serie A to the apparent suicide attempt of former national-teamer Gianluca Pessotto.
All the Azzurri did tonight was hand Germany its first loss ever in the lion's den of Dortmund, the first blemish in a 15-game run that stretched back to 1935. Talk about historic.
While we're at it, let's raise a glass (of Lowenbrau) to Germany, which played a freer brand of soccer under coach Jürgen Klinsmann than we're used to seeing from the Mannschaft. In my mind, this German team deserves far more praise than the robotic unit that reached the 2002 final. Not only was the Germans' brand of soccer better, but they revealed a playfulness in the host country that was refreshing to experience first-hand. As Klinsmann himself said after the game, "It showed a whole new German face to the world."
You have to like Italy's chances in the final, whether the opponent is Portugal or France. The Azzurri's defense, led by the imperturbable Fabio Cannavaro, has been remarkable, and no goalkeeper has made more saves in this World Cup than Gigi Buffon (23).
Is it time for Italy to add a fourth star to its jersey? Chime in with your take below.
I agree with most of what Mr. Wahl said, but I disagree with the statement that Italy would have to be considered favorites against either France or Portugal. Given how the game was played today, which has been similar to how other Italian games have progressed, France would seem to have a leg up on Italy in my book, and here's why.
Throughout the game today, Italy's defense sagged back to the 18, which allowed plenty of room for Germany's midfield to operate in the middle of the Italian half of the pitch. Italy did the same thing against Ukraine, which was the other game with this formation. Now, normally a 4-5-1 is used to clog the other team's attack, basically a 4-2-3-1, if you will, with 2 players designed to wreak havoc on opposing midfielders bringing up the ball. For France, these two players are Vieira and Makelele; for Italy, they are supposedly Pirlo and Gattuso.
However, Pirlo and Gattuso, while doing an admirable job chasing, did little to combat Ballack, Kehl, and Borowski as they sallied into the area in front of the Italians' box. And I feel very confident that if the Italians do the same against France, one Zinedine Zidane will use that space to unlock the riddle that has been the Italian defense. The Germans created numerous chances from this area without Ballack playing a brilliant game. Zizou is better with the ball than Ballack, and could easily create 5 or more chances either for himself or for Ribery, Malouda, Henry, Vieira... whomever. If that happens, I guarantee that the French finish at least a couple; despite the brilliant play of Cannavaro and Buffon (and Grosso and Zambrotta as well), they can still be beaten if the other team is given enough time.
The only soccer scandal investigation in Italy should be centered around the Italian Defense. Now they are even scoring goals. These guys are almost criminal and once you work your tail off and get by the captains you get to shot at the Don of the Defense-Buffon. Italy takes the cup.
One other thing to note, and this may affect my previous comment (about giving too much space to Zizou)... Daniele De Rossi will be back in his normal defensive midfield role for Italy, fully rested after serving his suspension. Ditto for Nesta who should be back (finally) after recovering from that nagging groin injury. With the two of them playing, Italy's defense becomes that much more formidable... if that's possible.
Thank you Germany, the match tonite was one of the best i've ever seen so far in my life (i'm pretty young :). The match tonite was as intense as a FINAL, i'll never forget it, it's already part of history. Thanx to the german team, to have been playing so wonderfully.
Finally Italy won, deserving it. Germany played a good match, but experience a technical skills made the difference. Reading many things on many sites, in different languages... Id like to win this match with a late PK with a dive in the box. But our players have been warned to behave as an example for all the teams in this WC due to the scandal at home. And this is what all saw on the pitch: Italians behave as an example, not diving, not playing dirty nor phisically nor insulting the refs for their decisions. In this WC ive seen players getting yellow cards for dives & unsportsmanship behaviour, but no one italian. Still Italy won nothing, but for all of us this is a great result:the final. I would like to thank O Rei, Pele, talking about us from the first game with great consideration. I would like to thank Maradona, the greatest, for all the words he spent helping our crowd believing in our players. I would like to thank latins (except Spaniards - French) defending us from accuses of diving, cheating, robbing etc etc. Shame on Beckenbauer for his words about this match "Italy has been lucky". Cheers to all of them (many, many nations) who insulted us for gameplay and accuses of cheating... Italy is in final, the only thing that counts
Talked a few friends out here in Califoria to give up a little of their July 4 and get their FIRST taste of world-caliber play. Could not have been a better intro...no armchair coaching here, just a hugely enjoyable match and looking for an Italy-France final
Italy deserved this win - PERIOD!! All the critics, haters, and non-believers have just been converted. In the end justice prevailed and the result was fitting. It would of been a shame to see this classic game end in a penalty shootout. Forza Italia! One more win and the cup is ours - where it truly belongs!!
Congrats to Italy for reaching the final...I hope to see a France-Italy final because I do not think Portugal is good enough to be in the world cup final solely on the merits of its fooballing abilities. The French will be extremely tough to beat in the final. Not considering the penalty goal from Spain they have only conceded one goal in the tounament. They have Zizou, Henry, Ribery, Viera, Thuram not to mention other experienced players. France will crack open Italy's defence with 2 goals. I do not see the Italians matching the French speed and accurate passing. France will win its second World Cup and Zidane will go out with a bang!
I too agree with Mr. Wahl for most (except that Italy was NOT in the toughest group - Group C was the toughest at this WC - and I do not mean paper seeding). Good game and refreshing refereeing. The game was well balanced although Italy had better chances and deserved the win.
For tomorrow: I can only hope that it is going to be as sweet with few/no cards. Contrasting styles and may the best team win (although I prefer Portugal -:).
Italy v. Portugal or France will be one of those classic offense vs. defense struggles. At this level I go with defense, and that means Thuram and Co. Zizou and Henry 2-0 in the semi-final; France 1-0 in the final. Italy is a well-balanced team but Zizou will be the difference in the final. Vive la France!
Germany played like a team that didn't want to lose. They had the ball in Italy's kitchen through most of the game but seemed unwilling to shoot. As odd as it is to criticize a team for playing unselfishly, they squandered quite a few scoring opportunities because they were making an extra pass when they should have been trying to score. When they went into overtime they were too tired. Their normally surgically precise passing went way off the mark.
It seemed an Italian player was rolling around on the ground every 30 seconds. It's a shame that a team whose strategy is based on flopping should win.
Re-seeding after the group stage is absolutely essential to the continued credibility of the World Cup. Argentina's grueling match with Mexico undoubtedly played a role in their loss to Germany, just as that match greatly affected the outcome of this contest against Italy. Meanwhile the Italians essentially had bye weeks against a plucky but overmatched Australian side and a Ukrainian team that was undoubtedly one of the worst to make the quarters in recent memory. Every four years we see teams that advance only because of poor quality opponents, while other titanic clashes in the early rounds rob the finals of true quality.
Once again, the only words I can think to sum up this match - BORING. After suffering through England's painfully boring style of play, I had hoped the Italians would be out as well. I think after watching Mexico v. Argentina, England v. Portugal, Italy v. Germany, it is obvious why soccer will never catch on in the US. Thank you France for providing an actually exciting match for a change! The only thing good about this match is the Italian side finally stopped their constant diving and theatrics and actually played the game. I can clearly understand why this game is now relegated to ESPN vs. a wider distribution channel. What I can not fathom though, is how no one in the broadcast booth told Marcelo Balboa to move the mic away from his mouth the last 20 minutes of the match. Boring soccer is bad enough, but listening to heavy breathing from Marcelo is unbearable...agh! I pity any woman that has ever dated this guy. The powers that be in FIFA better hope for France to win or Portugal v. Italy will draw a 0% share of the US market - losing badly to "Paint Drying" on ESPN2 and "Watching the Grass Grow" on Fox Sports.
Italy were worthy winners. Love them or hate them, you have to admire their ability to hold a buoyant German team scoreless in the seething cauldron that is Westfalenstadion. The two superbly taken goals were much appreciated by those of us who didn't want to see another game decided by a penalty shootout.
Spot on Analysis Grant, The Azzuri earned a much deserved trip to the finals. Lets all raise a glass to the spectacular football played by Germany in this tournament and raise another to hoing Portugal falls to Les Bleus tomorrow. I cant think of a better send off For Zizou and Del Piero than playing in an instant classic World Cup Final.
as a german fan i'm very sad about the outcome of this match. i would have loved to see my team playing at home in the finals of this great world cup. but i have to admit that the italian team surprised me in a positive way. they didn't play the unattractive, defensive catenaccio-style of football that i and many others had expected. they played offensively and often took the initative, wich is normally not the typical italian style at all. that payed off in the end. both teams were fighting hard and both deserved to win but destiny was on italy's side today. if the azurri would have won the game like the way they did against australia i would be bitter now but this way it's ok! this loss won't prevent me from enjoying the rest of the wc. it's such a great time! by the way i think juergen klinsmann is a genius. i hope he keeps on coaching our team! i am so proud of them for what they achieved. watch out for the ec 2008 and the wc 2010!!! greetz from germany
Having been a Dutch fan since '74, the explosive touch the Azzuri displays on offence & defence will reward them with the final win. Although the Ports and/or French will give them a game, my predicition will be 3 nil in the final! Viva Italia!!!
Congratulations, Germany- your bravery and style in this World Cup are what the beautiful game is all about. Unfortunately, it wasn't the beautiful game that won the day, but rather, the ugly game, the game spawned of the "vincere o morire" attitude, prevalent for so long in the Italian game: Defend at any cost, fake injury where possible, injure your opponent when the referee isn't looking, and try to win 1x0 as often as possible. Such a pity. I certainly pray that Portugal or France, whoever it may be who go on to the final, have what it takes to slay this ugly "Azurra" beast.
Without any doubt,Italy has stepped up to the plate and did what they supposed to do.This game was the World Cup Final for all intents and purposes,just the same,Italy should not take France or Portugal lightly.Back in 1982,the four semi-finalists composed of European teams,Italy was one of them and they won.History may repeat itself this coming Sunday.
Congrats Italy, they deserve to win today. but whole game was boring except last two minutes. both teams thought first about defence than offence. most of the elimination games of the World Cup were scoreless or decieded by one goal (even tonight second goal were due to first one). May be football need new rules to make it more interesting to watch. do not think I am new to this game, i still like to play football, but World Cup is boring.
To the writer of comments two and four: If Zidane plays as well as he did against Brazil, he might have a chance to score a goal or set one up for a teammate. But just remember this: It was a French side that was eight years younger (Zizou, Vieira, Henry, etc.) that Italy held to a scorless draw in France '98. And, in my estimation, the Italian side in that Cup was far less talented (at least on the offensive) than this one is.
Personally, I'm glad for the sake of my Italian wife that Italy won, and I'll be rooting for gli Azzurri in what should be a thrilling final regardless of who they play
We are spaghetti eaters, pizza makers, girlfriends stealers and we also know how to play football! After 1 week of spaghetti and pizza boicot from the germans we could now suggest them to finally have theirs well deserved "bratwurst"!
Great article. On another note for some of the nay sayers re: "Boring Italian soccer style", if you call 11 goals for (only team with as many is the same team they just defeated, Germany) so far to only 1 allowed (by a fluke own goal no less) boring style, I am willing to be so called "bored" winning, than excited losing!
In response to the guy who wrote at 9:37 that this match was boring: You don't know soccer, sir. The first half of the game was riveting, with each team having chances and pushing the limits. The second half was a bit more tame, but with the score 0-0 the extra periods were exciting as one goal would win the match.
I have been one who has written in this space about the Italians and their diving. I was overjoyed today to see that they played like men. They took their hits and got up and kept going. (Both teams were helped by the referee who refused to call fouls a lot of the tumbles, so they PLAYED SOCCER!) I said in an earlier post that I would give Italy its due if they stayed on their feet, and here it is: Well done. You have proved yourselves to be a quality team. You hit the post and crossbar in overtime, and your keeper blocked a point-blank shot before you won it. Wonderful game!
In the final, I'm thinking France will appear. Too much physical talent for Portugal, and quite possibly too much for Italy.
Again, to the 9:37 poster, I'm sure there'll be billiards or bowling or fishing on some channel, so watch that? It's OK if you don't love or appreciate soccer, but to put down a game of such quality shows you are lost when it comes to knowing this game.
Brilliant Germany but a more brilliant Italy playing solidly in front of 60,000 german fans. First half dominated by Italy in midfield - squantered a few occasions at the end well deserved victoy Giuseppe
Very intense but boring game... Let's hope that France & Portugal play to WIN and not to avoid a loss like Italians and Germans today. Pathetic! You're done Klinsmann, back to California and the US Team. Let's pray to avoid an Italy-Portugal next Sunday. Come on "les Bleus", one more to go before crushing "la Squaddra Azzura" which is now a team of D2 and D3 players.... ;)
Italy had a lot of players out of shape at the beginning of the cup and still has a lot of problems. But experience, a good coach, and humility lead us to the finals, while arrogance and bad coaches led to the premature exit of Spain, Brazil, and Argentine (who was probably the best team). BTW why nobody complains that France (4-5-1!!!) played defensively against Brazil??? And also why do Americans talk so much about England who played--as usual-- the worst soccer of all the cup? The fact that they speak the same language is not sufficient to use them as role models!!
I think France will win tomorrow and then France will lose to Italy in penalty kicks.
Berlin will be the end of the streak.
Why? I think Italy today did not a good job near the Germany goal box. They kept missing it. Italy needs to review the France defeat of Brazil tape. See how ZZ took the Ronaldo apart, piece by piece.This is what will happen next Sun. in Berlin.
To someguy: I know that Italy held France to a scoreless draw in 1998, and in front of the hostile fans no less. I just saw gaping holes in the Italian defensive midfield created by too much sagging and by Totti trying to stay higher up. I hope it does not, but I think it could come back to haunt the Italians, particularly because they have not shown any other discernible defensive weaknesses thus far (excepting Zaccardo, of course).
Basically, I'm just trying to temper Italian enthusiasm. There still is one game left, against a team that is fully capable of beating the Azzurri on any given day. Will they do it on that certain given day? I hope not, but we shall see.
What I liked about Italia was how (at least late in the game) their passing was crisp and right on. They seemed like they were running their plays and knew where their passes were intended. No disrespect to Germany, but they looked a little more frantic and individual. To my eyes Italia seemed to be quite in control.
As a German fan, I'm obviously a bit sad. But there's still a lot of positive things to take away from this World Cup. We had a young team who played their hearts out, we showed more attacking, more attractive soccer than Germany is traditionally known for, and I think we presented ourselves well and entertained many people as the team of the host nation. If you had told me a few weeks ago that we would steamroll through the group stage, beat Argentina, and go into the semi-finals, I wouldn't have been too unhappy. Although I always knew that the "experts" who wrote us off entirely were wrong, as usual.
Congratulations to Italy, they were simply the better team on the day. I'm not going to sit here and point fingers or spin conspiracy theories, because obviously we are not Argentinians, and we lose with grace. I could do without some of the "bratwurst" comments here, but I guess it is to be expected - when someone is already down, the temptation must be great to give him another kick. So, to the Italian fans: take it eady. Don't listen to what a faction of the German press called you, that is just the usual journalist nonsense. Most Germans love Italy and the Italian people, actually. Congratulations on your win.
Whoever said the Italians don't play dirty, um, do I need to show of the clip against the U.S. with Brian McBride? Anyways, France can't score, so Portugal 2-nil. Italy, being dominant the whole Cup, routs Portugal 3-nil. Go Italia!
Destiny. In the finals every 12 years since 1970. They have met every challenge and continue to get stronger. They will get DeRossi and Nesta back and add to an already potent defense. Buffon is amazing. Every game a different player comes up big. It is not about shutting down a key player on this team. the Azzuri are on a mission and will not stop Sunday after a World Cup victory. Italian Soccer needs a world cup victory.
Just to note that some people actually felt the game was boring and that Italy was a totally lucky and defensive side. I totally disagree... it was one hell of a heart pounding match! especially in extra time! And this Italian team is one of the best I've seen (apart from Del Piero who I think should never have been selected). Even if the Italians lose in the final, I salute them for their approach to the game... soccer is not just about attacking my friends... its about a balance between attack and defence. I think all four countries in the Semis prove this! Forza Italia!
Italy deserved to win this match but they have played crap thrughout the turnament and they palyed cup debutants in their previous games... and lets not forget that they played a beat and tired germany after that hard fought duel against argentina. we'll see how italy will play in the final now that they have played a strong team and 2h duel.
Italy will win if another team fails to do so. Both France and Portugal are, in my mind, more likely to produce a special performance worthy of the championship. But if they aspire to that level and fail, Italy will be there to pick up the pieces ... and the glory!
I am Sri Lankan and I did not have any favourits before the World Cup started but I think Germany finally got their well deserved DEFEAT! They wouldn't have got even to the semi finals if not for the unbelivable incompetancy or perhaps favouratism of the referee in their match against Argentina. Congratulations Italy!Wish you all the very best for the finals!
To all the "experts" who thought this was a boring game...wake up! Or better yet, don't bore the rest of us with your "boring" comments. You were watching two powerhouses who know how to play this game, and who are extremely strong defensively. These players make few mistakes and the one or two that happen will usually result in a goal (see the first goal). So no, it was not boring at all. It was heart stopping at times, it was cover your face with your hands, it was amazement at how well the defences set to deny opportunities, it was just suberb play by two great teams. But boring? No way. Guy from Canada who just wanted to watch great soccer - and did!
Salute Italia! From an untrained eye, here is my observation: The Italian players are more agile...shorter, lighter, quicker. They had more heart. They had a 57% ball possession with a ton of attemps so it was just a matter of time before they scored. Improved defense too! It was a tough hit for the Germans. What a game.
Italy showed not only skill in this game, but class as well. The way that this team caries and composes itself should set an example, not only to soccer players, but people around the world in general.
I predicted Italy to win 2-0, but Holy Mother of God did Germany have me on the edge of my seat! I thought for sure Deutchland was going to win in penalty shots, given the Italian's questionable record in the pk realm.
Good game though. I am sure that Germany exposed some wrinkles in the Italian Defence... However, I believe this to be a good thing, as they will be ironed out by sunday. That's one thing about this Team that I love. Just when you Think they are all defence, they score incredible goals unassisted by corners or free kicks.
Whoever faces Italy in the final will probably once again fall into the trap of believing that they have this team figured out.
Clash of the Titans... Two teams allowed to play free sans blatant fouls. In the end, time expired, nil-to-nil. In the wanning minutes of the second overtime period, reality nearly turned to penalty kicks--and all of the sudden one of the teams exibits a weak spot. The other team exploited the weakness--TWICE in a mere minute. Game over. Italy vs. Germany this time around. This recipe is good for any match on any given day.
I don't want to enter in the discussion about why France should win as someone did. I really don't care because they had their World Cup at home, they were very lucky against Italy in the final of the European championship in 2000 and they have a great Zinadine ... but France has to defeat Portugal first while Italy is already in the final, growing tactically day by day by day by day as it is in the Italian tradition in the World Cup (if they get the rid of the initial matches without problems they can reach the final saying something important).
So thank you for this article and thank you Italy for this night to remember. You defeated one of the strongest team in the world at home, during their World Cup in a taboo stadium like Dortmund. As an Italian moved to the U.S. four years ago and living in New York, the 4th of July starting today will be remembered as an Italian national holiday as well.
good, intense game. italy was a tad better overall, but germany played a good game. they will be strong in 2010. feel bad for them. it would have been nice to win a world cup in their own country. i know he feeling when italy lost Italia 1990. an Italian from california.
Are people really that superstitious? I mean, this thing about never losing in Dortmund...come on. There is supposed to be some mumbo-jumbo mojo there or something? The stadium did not, and could not help today. They lost for the following reasons...
Germany did not play their best against Italy...or was it that they simply could not penetrate Italy's defense? I suspect some of each, if that is possible.
The Germans seemed tired. Especially Ballack, who was not his usual creative self. They missed Frings. Still, I thought it was going to a shoot-out, with a couple of minutes to go in over time. But although I wanted Germany to win, I am not surprised that Italy won. I cannot deny that Italy outplayed them (look at possession time, shots on goal, saves, etc.). Italy deserved to win.
Now let's hope for a victory by France over Portugal (that should not be too difficult), and then one over Italy in the final!
And is it just me or are any others thinking that it will be tough for the Germans to win the game for third place regardless of who they play, since it is a mere four days from now?
This is the difference between an Italian and a French in soccer.
We wait, hope and judge any match in a humble way. They are 100% sure they win without analyzing the evolution of each game.
For the moment I'm not thinking at the final in which France is not there yet, but just enjoying the magic night in which the Azzurri won a superb and correct match with an extraordinary German team in one of the best organized World cups in the history. We won in their land, during their World Cup in a Taboo stadium like Dortmund.
The Final is too far for the moment, but today the 4th of July becomes and Italian National Holiday as well.
Congrats for both Germany and Italy for playing beautiful game. I'm running out of words. One of the most dramatic matches I've seen in football. Italy is a bit better than Germany side. Nevertheless Der Mannschaft shows characters and willpower to win not only this match, but the whole world cup. Too bad they're up against superb Italy side with once in generation players like Cannavaro, Buffon, Pirlo, and Zambrotta. I really hope Italy will face France in the final. It'll be a PAYBACK time for Euro 2000, with the new Albertini (Pirlo) and the next Maldini (Grosso). Once again, let's hear it FORZA AZZURRI !!!
To all the people who say that Gernmany attacked more but Italy was lucky and/or stole the game I just say: check the scoreboard!!! Italy hade the same number of shots, but more accurate shots, 3 times as many corner kicks and less saves!! It also hit two posts if you remember!!! Italy played 4-4-2, then 4-3-3, and then 4-3-4 (strange defensive playing!!). The fact is that Italy has the best defense in the world period! The other teams do not score that is it. Italy almost suppressed Germany forwards (Klose: 5 games 5 goals, before Italy) with just one yellow card (one less than the "attacking" Germans!!).
I realize playing defense in soccer isn't as exciting as for example, playing as a DB in football. No interceptions, game-changing forced fumbles and so on. However, i do believe there's a famous saying that is still valid even for the soccer world cup. "DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIP" so .. enough saying italy just defend and nothing else. Defenind is an art as much as scoring a goal.
Boring - you must be joking. This game was pulsating. I'm a neutral supporter and was on the edge of my seat for the whole game.
Not too much diving to speak of either so not sure what some people are whinin about. Sidenote about diving: why not tell the players that all games will be video reviewed afterwards and if a player is found to have dived then he is automatically red carded for the following game. This will put a stop to that nonsense.
Even better would be to setup a booth with a 3 referee panel who will watch the game live. These refs will be in contact with the ref on the pitch....so if someone dives or an intentional foul which is not called - and all 3 refs immediately agree then they can message the main ref on the pitch....this should not slow the game at all - in fact it should speed it up.
But ... WC2006 will not be won by the Italians! As per their last two games, they will try to entrench themselves and 'hope' for a lapse in concentration and/or fatigue to set-in to snatch a win. They did this to humble a very strong and far more entertaining Dutch side in the '98 world cup.
The Italian's best chance to win will be if the Portugese wins against the French. The only way for Portugal to win is to play a hard game and shutting down Zizou. This may give Portugal victory but it will also leave them depleted of good and fit players. To have a a good chance to win WC2006, Portugal must win the semis with Figo, Deco, C.Ronaldo, Pauleta and Carvalho still playable for the finals.
The French are a far more intelligent, skillful and (vastly) experienced side. The final will bring out the best of Henry &Co. Their only weakness is fitness as the players are older. To win, they have to score (at least 2 goals) within the 90mins and Zizou is capable of creating the chance for this.
They have the depth, skill and experience. France will be WC2006 winners!
Thinking about boring what about American football and especially baseball which really have hard time to wake up people worldwide with a huge enthusiam in the streets. I think Americans like soccer (actually football, your football is American rugby - the boring version of the real one) and I think that if they are smart enough they can have a great team in the future and make a lot of money out of it ... if people like 9:37 understand that soccer is much more fun before, during and after the match and much more money generator than any other sport. FORZA AZZURRI, GRAZIE
I lived in Italy for many years and got caught up the passion for european football. The fans are exciting and inclusive and truly love the sport. However I really must say I have a hard time watching the World Cup. The diving and faking involved with World Cup is exasperating. I find it disgusting the disregard for fairplay and decency are appalling. The rules are bent to the point of hilarity. No team is more celebrated in their fakery than the Italians.
I watch grown men flail and clutch limbs in utter agony to leap to their feet within seconds. The sport is a joke that I do not get. I understand that I am in the minority in this opinion. But I have watched my last Cup, and find it unbearable to watch a team get rewarded for their indiscretion. My greatest disappointment in this is to watch the reactions of others when I mention this. I get a universal shrug and some pithy comment about how it is part of the game. Well I want no part of it and I don't want my kids to part of it.
As an Australian I find it a little sad that Italy has gotten this far after being outplayed by my countrymen in their round of 16 match only to have the referee hand them the game with a horrible call when there was at best 30 seconds left on the clock until extra time.
Australia were indeed plucky but far from outmatched as one of the previous posters has claimed. Grant Wahl himself predicted an upset by Australia and even without perhaps our best player (Harry Kewell) we still outplayed Italy who are now 1 win from winning the world cup.
Hopefully come the next world cup the aussies will be taken more seriously and not be at the mercy of the questionable officiating that has been the norm for this world cup.
Hi, just one thing about people from the US saying this match was boring or more general, soccer is boring. As a german fan of soccer and american football, I have to ask: Why does everyone enjoys american football matches where none of the teams is moving the ball. Calling it great defensive battles and statement like "defense wins championchips" are made. But if defensive superb soccer teams are playing each other, nothing spectactular happens and no goals are shot, the playing-style of the teams is boring and they are not deserving to win.
Concerning this semifinal: Italy was the one spark more professional and coll when it comes to directing a last-minute goal in a thrilling game. Congratulations! It will be thrilling match again when both teams will meet at the EM. Watch out for a little bit older (but still young) and improved german team (maybe to take a revenge)....
This was a superbly played game by both sides and Italy deserved the victory. The goals were simply sensational plays by the azzurri and Germany should leave knowing that they exceeded everyone's expectations...
You have to give a lot of credit to the players and lippi for being able to look past all the crap going on in Italy and focus in on the world cup.
The referee in this game was the best i have seen...he gave cards only on deliberate plays and really allowed the game to flow. I hope he is in charge of the final...
I see Italy winning it all simply because it is firing on all cylinders...Defensively, they are nearly impossible to score on...Offensively they are clicking at the right time (what about that move by lippi to leave totti and del piero as two strikers)...and buffon is a beast..
Onward to Berlin... (and I pray my dear AC Milan don't get demoted)
Not a boring game at all. Just cuz the english national team sucks collectively... sounds more like envy... just like the ignorance and stereo typing in your coment to a Lowen Brau glass of beer. And while we're at it how bout a " Weiener Schnitzel" and sour-kraut.
Beautiful game? Hardly. This was a pretty boring match with Italy basically sitting back on defense and finally getting some excitement after 118 minutes of a mundane sport. As posted, there is a reason why even WNBA basketball gets shown on the US national networks and soccer is on ESPN. I think the show that took its place today was "Days of Our Lives" or some such soap opera. Frankly, I think my time would have been better spent watching that. I realize soccer is very popular around the world, but if Italy vs. Germany was the sport at its finest, kiss the US market good-bye. As a matter of fact, watching the US vs. Italy is pretty eye opening now that Italy is going to the finals - the US was the only team thus far that Italy could not beat and 99% of Americans have zero respect for the American squad as athletes. I know the Europeans probably don't believe it, but the US kids that go into soccer are the ones that could not play the 4 major US sports - our best soccer player is maybe the 10,000th best athlete in the US so the team the US fielded was not the biggest, fastest, strongest, most athletic team possible - it was a team of Big 4 rejects. Despite this, they held the possible WC champion to a 1:1 tie. Maybe I will catch a German league or Premier league game on TV once in awhile, but the WC is nothing worth getting excited over.
This game was ridiculously exciting! My heart was beating faster than normal for the entire 30 minutes of extra time.
Both goals were beautiful, and completely unselfish. Most people in Pirlo's or Gilardino's positions would have taken a shot themselves, but both unselfishly passed the ball to someone in a better position. What plays!
Italy outclassed Germany with their skill and flow, but Germany should be given much credit for their spirited, determined play. They certainly have a big future.
I'm really happy that Italy has finally proven critics wrong with a very enjoyable, legitimate win that isn't marred by allegations of diving or favorable referee decisions.
And yes, most fail to realize that Lippi's genius move was to put the experienced Del Piero on in extra time. His injection into play changed things dramatically (although to the casual viewer, it probably wasn't noticeable).
Experience really does help when things get very tense and people can choke. Look at the remaining teams... they're among the oldest of the 32.
my compliments to the italian squad: fantastic defense, very creative offensive specially at the end of the game. i was also very pleased that the team did very little acting with the exception of master chief diver materazzi. i think the weakest link of the italian team is the midfield, the germans were consistently getting thru on the center where if not for cannavaro they would be right doomed.
Italy struggled in the first round, but they are now appeared to be the contender to hoist the World Cup trophy. On the other hand, Germany had the 12-man on their team through out the whole tournament + lucks were on their side the whole way. They proved the the critics all around the world wrong that they would advance one game or two games futher than everyone predited. Well, one extra game might be good enough to have a good seed for the next World Cup in South Africa but not this one. This is a deja-vu of the 1990 World Cup where the host (Italy) played for 3rd place while Germany played for the trophy and they won it all. Who knows! Maybe France will take home the trophy 2 of 3 World Cup the way Argentina did in '78 and '86. Stay tune! : )
I will not add more to the adulation for my dear Azzurris...most of what people say now are well overdue (whiners should have given them due credit a long time ago!) and besides, they are NOT the champions yet. Until then, if and when the Italians lift the Jules Rimet trophy, they are still not the best football team in he planet. And the real Azzurri fan will not be contented for now.
Anyway the best thing from Grant Wahl's article is his comment on how Klinsmann single-handedly bring out a different face for Germany/German football. I never thought I was going to ever say this but I was actually quite sad that the "beautiful" (wait, am I sick or what?!) Germans have to lose in a game where they have every right to win. Oh well, not that I did not expect the Azzurris to win given their historic dominance over the Mannschaft but Wahl nailed it when he said that the 2006 German team deserved more praise for losing the semis than their robotic counterparts who made it to the finals of 2002 and the years past.
To the German fans, here's to a team that may have achieved more in losing than most of the winning German squads of yore!
A couple of words on diving-flopping. It seems most of people crying about it have never played the game. Pure dive without contact is rather rare thing, and pure dive aworded is even less frequent. 95% of cases are rather flopping after dubious contact. Non-flopping after light foul gives advantage to the foul-comitter: you still keep ball for a while, but as you have lost your balance, your rhythm, you gonna lose next challenge. Player hardly has time to ponder "was this contact a foul?". Benefit of doubt is given to foul. Thats why refs issue yellow card only for pure dives, not for any flop after challenge they not call. Flopping when hard-tackled is a safety measure too, otherwise one risks a serious injury.
Writhing is the same story. Playing with acute pain you are disadvantaged: your reflexes are retarded, your vision is narrow. To come to terms with pain one needs some time. To get this time player has to show his pain to ref and other players. Yes, this is used for time-wasting sometimes. And stretcher is brought in just to avoid time-wasting, not because someone really thinks player is unable to walk.
Like many other sports, football, especially at world cup level, is not only entertainment but transmits to billions of people a certain state of spirit and with every game makes a statement re a certain culture, style, sportsmanship, fairness and way of living in general. Coaches, players, referees, fans, press, federations, all contribute. From this point of view I believe all sport fans should have supported, in addition to their national teams, both Brazil and Italy. Unfortunately Brazil is out but, like last night, I’m convinced Italy will demonstrate what class means and win the final.
Great article. i agree with everything you said. the first 90 minutes were a bore, but the overtime periods were brilliant football, the two sides attacking each other the entire time, not sitting back and playing for the tie. The funny thing is i was yelling at pirlo to shoot it when he recieved the ball at the top of the 18. however, he obviously is hte professional as he played a perfect pass to get the game winner with a perfect finish. I hope France wins tomororw as we will see a magical final if these two footballing goliaths meet!
Klinsmann's coaching was superb and his team played spendidly. No team was more exciting to watch or more respected by their opponents.
The young team impressed everyone with high quality soccer and good sportsmanship.
And what a pleasure it was to watch the German people let loose of 60 years of guilt and self-restraint to wave flags and celebrate with a healthy amount of national pride and patriotism. Their enthusiasm was contagious.
Finally, congratulations to Italy for elevating your entire game today! We knew your defense would prove solid again, but it was your offensive play and sportsmanship that gained you respect and admiration today. Continue on with your great work and you'll win your forth World Cup! Bravo!
Brazil!!!! playing with a whole lot of show they learn in Brazil. In europe they learn to score. Ronaldo, ronaldhino, Kaka etc... all star players, put them all on the same field and they compete with their own teammates not against the other team. a big problem in the Brazilian national team. Germany-Italy 0-2 Italy deserved to win, they were the better team and they did put more hearth in the game. And Germany...allready champs because of their behavior. A country with a black history. A world championship soccer for the first time without hooligans screwing things up for everybody.
1) Kudos to ref: game under control with only a few cards. Kudos to players, who showed class too often lacking.
2) Sure, nice pass by Pirlo, Grant, but all goes for naught if not for the sublime curl of a shot by Grosso--THAT was the real moment.
3) Klose again impresses me far more than Podolski, whose one-footedness is not the stuff of great strikers. He has pace and a wicked turn-and-shoot, but I don't see greatness there. Klose impressed every game.
4) Cannavaro and Buffon were excellent, as always, but how about Zambrotta, the most understated and apparently underrated player in the cup. The guys holds down whatever flank he's asked to, gets forward with great efficiency, and hits a wicked shot. If he's not in the final 11 of the All-Cup team, than there's an injustice.
5) Ballack simply didn't have it today. This was fortunately cancelled out by the non-entity that was Totti. Both were kept on for the possibility of penalties.
6) Kudos to Kehl, who played very well in the absence of Frings.
7) France/Portugal. Well, I'll be willing on the old guys, who at their best are better than Portugal. Portugal hasn't really played a particularly gratifying game to watch yet (though the Mexico match was pretty good.)
8) Would you really want DiRossi ahead of Gattuso? Gattuso has done everything that one would want from the defensive midfield, steadying Italy after DiRossi's exit against the US, without stupid fouls (see DiRossi's nasty studs up tackle against Essien in the Ghana match, in addition to the obvious elbow without even trying for the ball against McBride.)
9) On the whole, an absolutely riveting game. Much enjoyed.
The commenter at 12:58 has it nailed: review for diving and red-card the fakers for the next game. Obviously there are some instances that will be too hard to unravel (how hard was Figo actually hit by Bouhlarouz), but absolutely some of the nonsense could be stopped. That is the single best thing that could happen to the game.
I agree with you most of your analysis here Mr. Wahl, but you have overlooked one key element here: Lippi demonstrated courage and skills by strengthening the Italian offense before overtime started. That was a great move, one that made the difference.
It seems that coaches who have the guts to play offensive at critical parts of the game are on the winning side (France in the quarter finals, Italy in the semi) while conservative coaches (Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands) were kicked out at an earlier stage than necessary.
For every soccer fan on this planet it was great to see that such an important game can be decided by such awesome goals. Also good to see the game was not influenced by the referee or theatrics of both teams.
What a match! A perfect example of two great teams probing each other's weaknesses, searching for the right moment to strike. Both squads were very tentative initially, but as the game wore on the intensity kept growing and growing until something eventually gave in.
This game was always going to require one piece of sublime skill and vision to turn it and fortunately Andrea Pirlo was there to provide.
I think Italy had the best of the game for the most part but it really could have gone either way and the Germans really played an outstanding match. Podolski will be thinking about that missed header for years to come... oh well, Im sure he will have another chance to make ammends in 2010.
Germany lost because of its impeccable penalty shootout record (and Italy's dismal one) in the world and euro championships. Germans were expecting to come through with the penalties, and were looking for a draw, and that proved disastrous.
After having spent more than four decades in Germany and never having heard anybody call the nationalteam simply "die mannschaft", like the italian "squadra azzura" or the french "equipe tricolore", I wonder where this so-called synonym ever came from. As for the game I am glad the better team has won. To me it just seemed that at the end of extra time the german team just wanted to reach the shootout once again, and even Klinsmann admitted later that they had resorted to that plan.
What a match -- this helps me get over the heartbreak of watching England (who never looked like WC winners I realize) lose again on pk's. and with Nesta back, anything is possible. would be great to have brave litte Portugal vs. Italy. This American fan would love either deserving and unfairly criticized team - both of whom suffered wrenching defeats in the finals of the last 2 Euro CHampnionships - to win. Bravissimo. Italia.
the party is out. in germany, wednesday morning, there is no single flag left. it seems that the short wave of national euphoric is blown away with the two late goals from italy and who cares!? its just soccer.
Germany play a beautiful game?? Are you talking about another Germany's team? I've watched the WC since 86 and never have I watched the Germany national team play what I would call "beautiful football". Efficient yes...powerful yes...robust yes...but never beautiful. Please!
Italy has changed thier mentality, 3 substitutions and not one a defensive sub. And the only games they played totaly defensive has been when they were a man down. They have played with heart and everyone has left thier ego at home, accepted thier role and just played.I have never seen Italy play this free flowing, loose and not constantly throwing long balls, but rather play great ground ball.
What a terrible article. To call that match 'drab' demonstrates a staggering lack of football knowledge - and a lack of a fan's enthusiasm for the game - conforming to every stereotype of American sports commentators (the kind of stereotypes that are rarely lived up to these days, fortunately). Not to mention the fact that Grosso's celebration did not simply 'call to mind' Tardelli's display - it was a deliberate tribute.
It was a good game and italy deserved to win, but why wait until the 2nd period of extra time to finally play some offense ! I felt during the whole game that italy just needed to push a bit more, and as soon as they did it, they hit the post, the bar, and scored two nice goals. Please Mr Lippi, if we beat Portugal and play the final, do just the same against us. Leave Del Piero, Iaquinta, Inzaghi, etc.. on the bench.
to the 9:37 post: Baseball isn´t boring??? 20 minutes of action in a 3 hour game? the NFL is full of drug addicts, murderers, and rapists playing a game that maybe has a total of 15 minutes of real action and 60 minutes of commercials. The NBA is the only American league that is truly exciting. The best athletes in the world are soccer players - and that´s a no brainer. I thought soccer was boring too until I moved to Europe 6 six years ago (I´m American) and have been learning the game ever since. Now, I don´t think there is a more interesting team sport in all the world.
Boring? Come on, it was the most entertaining game I've seen during this WC. Ok,no goals, but fantastic attacking play from both teams ...but in the final seconds, a flash of brilliance from Pirlo and roso (beautiful curl)and a split second laps of concentration by the german defense (which played good to that point), made the difference. Both teams had their opportunities before, and it could have gone other way.
Anyway, it shows that Germany is still a young team, while Italy is so matureand gifted. And that from me, a die hard German Fan sincethe age of 7:)
I hope Klinsi will stay, and develop the team(and the Bundesliga)further. Watch out for Germany in 2008 - 2010! Because, right now, they are actually overachieving and riding the wave of enthusiasm.
first of all - congratulations to Italy. You guys were the little bit better than the german team and you deserved to win. It was a great fight of two great football nations and in the end the little bit better team won. I dont have to say that I am really sad about the german loss but that is what sports is all about. Unfortunatly one has to lose.
I am from Berlin and I have to say that the last couple of weeks were really special. I hope that the world and all football fans enjoyed the World Cup as much as we did here in Berlin. Everybody from all over the world celebrated together and had a good time. I have to thank everybody who came to Berlin, to the fan mile and to the stadium for creating an atmosphere that was simply breathtaking. I hope that everybody saw that Germany really is a nice country and I also hope that the english, french, swedish, americans and everybody else being part of World Cup had a great time wether they visited germany or just watched it in front of the TV. Thanks!!!!!!!
Italy - I keep my fingers crossed for you in the final. Lets get the Cup to Italy now that Germany is out. I love PIZZA :)
Come to Berlin and celebrate the last game in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
One final though about a big display of character and sportmansship by the Germans though : 1. They didn't whine about Frings banning by FIFA although it was a embarrasing decision - very debatable at best. Germany just swallow the bullet and focused on their job! Such professionality is a rarity...
2. After a hard fight and still losing, they accept their loss and said that Italy was simply better that night. Not even ONE word looking for excuses or goats to blame! England, Argentina could learn more from Germany than just penalties... :p
Final word about penalty shooting: Of course it is bitter to lose by penalties, but for all of you hating it: DO YOU HAVE ANY BETTER ALTERNATIVES?Golden Goal and Silver Goal has failed.
Anyway, I still think it is pretty fair though. If after 120 minutes both teams are at a draw, than they can be regarded as equals. Than, those with the best nerves will come trough. So, what is unfair about penalties, except the fact that England just cannot find a way to win it?And then, I didn't hear any englisch complains after Liverpool beated AC Milan on penalties ...
I just hope France's going to beat Portugal today so we'll have a change of a somewhat dignified final.
Just imagine Italy playing Portugal - there would be no game whatsoever. All they'd do is dive, act and complain about the referee all the way through the game. It'd be a disgrace to have the 2 top cheating teams "playing" the final.
I have read a lot of comments on the site about how Italy has weaknesses Well welcome to the real world, all teams have weaknesses. This was one of the best games I have ever seen and as an Italian I would have felt proud of my nation’s team win or louse. The fact that we overcome with style is fantastic. And if you can beat the home nation in front of there home crowd you deserve to win the cup. France and Portugal I know you watched the game, don’t fear each other it’s us you should be thinking about…….
Zidan is great of that there is no doubt, You even have some va va vum that hangs out in your crowd, But Of one thing you can be sure, The Azzurri will fight, and kick you’re A*S for sure. Forza Azzurri
This was a great, great game. Two talented and well-organized teams, both doing everything in their power to win the game. It was intense. Italy seemed to sway the rythym of the game in their favor, they rarely looked out-of-sorts despite the raucus crowd, and in the end they deserved to win with two fine, fine goals. Grosso's goal has got to be the best of the tournament considering the circumstances.
Germany, the team and the country, earned honor, respect, and admiration. Sorry to see them go out, but they met a better team last night.
Who is obstinate itself to denigrate the Italian square does not understand the soccer' game. Sweat, hard work, power therefore yesterday we have had with justice the Germany. Now I hope that it touches oldest French. “Forza Azzurri” Ita-Fra= 3-1
Point 1: If you thought this game was boring, you are clueless. If I had a dime for everytime I sat back and declared to my friends "this defense is amazing," I could have afforded to buy all the Italian supporters drinks last night at the bar. How can you say that watching Cannavaro come out of nowwhere to block a ball is not exciting soccer?
Point 2: Last night made me proud to be an Italian. We did not dive, we did not play dirty, we did not whine. We went out and played like men and won the game. All of the Italian-haters need to watch the game again if they think otherwise.
Point 3: I would just like to express my condolences to all the German fans. I know how hard it is to lose (After all, I am Italian). In all cases, you comported yourselves with amazing dignity and were an excellent host nation. I also complement the people on this blog who have not attacked the Italians after the game but have given them their due. You show what great sports the Germans are.
Point 4: Mr. Tactical of posts 2 and 4. Have you forgotten that the Italian defense is incredible? No-one has been able to break it. I trust Cannavaro´s 6 good games over Zidanes past 2. And like another poster said, have you forgotten Portugal?
Point 5: I am a pessamist. Being born after 1982, I am accustomed to the Azzurri losing. That being said: right now, they are the best team in the world. They deserve to win in the final. Viva la Italia!
I am blessed to be living at this moment of history. I know what to tell my grand children. The story of Dortmund, the story of a football match, the story of a WC semis. Germany vs Italy. A story to live. For ever.
Although in the second half Italy seems to have given quite a bit of space to the Germans, in the end they seem to be the better team-scoring two goals when many thought that the most they could do was one. Congratulations!
Italy did a wonderful job by winning the match against Germans. Germans were taking great benefit from the home crowd and helpful refrees. Most of the German Players were making full use of playing at the home grounds by rough tackling in all its matches. Once again, WELL DONE to Italy for leaving Germans behind.
Italy won by not playing in its own traditional - 'italian', dare I say it - way. They held the ball most of the time,they applied pressure whenever possible on the german defense, they ended the game with four offensive-minded players on the pitch at the same time (great move by Lippi, who simply outcoached Klinsmann). And guess who had fresh legs at the end....Gilardino, Iaquinta, del Piero,the three subs. Italy showed poise, character, and a resolve: what the heck, you may say they looked like ...Germans - with a better defense. Next time, better respect the Azzurri, and remember - never put italians in a hole. When they're cornered, they scratch their way out. Maybe it wont'be enough against France(who should prevail over Portugal) - a veteran and physical team - but I'm sure the Azzurri will give'em all they've got in the tank - and then some. We remember Trezeguet...
Yes, Italy is a technically gifted team and was deserving of the win. Their defense is as fabulous as their egos are huge. Swallowing every ounce of pride I have, I tip my hat to them for their achievements thus far. Even while I don't think the penalty against Australia was deserved, they were the better side there as well.
Why, oh why. then must such artists play such unattractive ball? Seriously, is the secret to their defensive mastery in the practical abandonment of offensive possession? I can see the difference in the individual skill levels, and the Azzuri exemplify great first-touch ball. As a brand of team play, however, give me the Argentinian divers any day.
In a US soccer fan perspective, a good soccer game should end up 15-12, otherwise it would be boring. Soccer is different from baseball, dear americans: the game is a 90 minutes representation of life, a mixture of courage, fantasy, self sacrifice, team work, that in the end takes to victory. This is what you see in the game, not only the scores. Italy vs Germany was an incredible, historycal match from my point of view. In the German hell of Westfalenstadion, Italians kept cool, gifted to football history two pieces of art and showed that they don't need to dive to win. They only have to be afraid of themselves... An italian fan from Milan
To all of you who still critisize us after yesterday game: have not learned your lesson? We (ITALY) are the best team, we play the best football, we WILL bring home the cup. Got it ? I hope for ITALY-france final, 2 times they have robbed us (1998 on penalties and 2000 european cup on golden goal with less than a minute to go in the game) It's vendetta time. FORZA ITALIA !!!!!!!!!!!!
Italy possessed the ball longer, committed fewer fouls, had more shots on goal, including a post and a crossbar. Those who say Italy was on the ropes most of the match were obviously not watching, or are blinded by their bias.
In the end the better team won. Congratulations to Italy.
Congrats Italy You played like professionals and acted accordinally. Goals were long in comming but preserverance prevailed. Thank you Italy and thank you Germany for giving us the most entertainning soccer of this world cup. May the final be also as memorable.
Italy won. Plain and simple. I am huge Germany fan and am heartbroken but Italy won. There were some calls that were questionable, like every game, but it happens. The game is over and the Germans lost. It's crushing but it's the the truth... Until 2010. Wir fahrne nach Cape Town.
Rarely, if ever, do you see one-two dagger like that to crush a team in such a stunning fashion in a pivotal semifinal match in a World Cup. With about a minute to go, when the tiring Germans were already thinking of who would be shooting penalty kicks, Pirlo sublimely passes a ball to Grosso, who turns it into a curving, left-footed goal for the ages. And to add insult to misery, Del Piero takes a no-look pass from Gilardino and chips it in the net in a counterattacking run to stun Germany and leave the nation aghast. Alas, the indomitable, defense-crazed, catennacio-minded Azzurri unleashed a furious, last-gasp offensive to prevent their fate from being left to the fickle follies of penalties.
I hope everybody continues to discount Portugal and call them divers, cheaters, whatever...
This team can play and has not even hit on all cylinders yet. France will get a taste tonight, when Deco returns. People seem to forget that Deco is one of top 20 players in the world, and is a fantastic controlling force in the midfield.
The English media's jealousy of all things Portugal (probably stemming from their hatred for Jose Mourinho) has colored everyone's perception of Portugal and their quality, and that is a real shame. I hope Portugal shows the world today the type of good futbol they are capable of.
Where were all these Italian fans a few weeks ago??!!
I've been waiting for the Azurri to take it all ever since Baggio missed that penalty kick in the '94 World Cup.
To anyone who thinks Italy had an easy road to the Finals, well lets not forget that Brazil also had an "easy" road in, and France was really the first quality team they had to face, and what happened? Of course, Italy beat the Czech Republic, so there's your talented upper level team right there, but yes, Germany was the true test to see just how good the Azurri are this year, and they proved they are among the best in the world!
To the poster at 7:58. Your analysis would be solid without taking into account the return of Nesta.
If you watch the game you will see Cannavaro staying back and not challenging the wing as he does with Nesta in the game. This caused Gattuso to cover the wing in his stead.
With Nesta in the game Gattuso will return to his harrying roll and that space outside the box will not be so wide open. Bear in mind it didn't open up that wide until OT when Pirlo/Gattuso were exhausted and 4 forwards Iaquinta/ Gilardino/ Totti/ Del Piero were in.
Will the clueless Yanks who are trying to cover the World Cup, with their laughable low understanding of the beautilful game, please STOP chirping on about how Group E was the hardest group. Anyone who knows anything about football knows that Group C was by far the hardest group. Just because the US came last doesn't mean the group was hard. It wasn't
Why no one noticed that german didn't give back the ball twice after two italian players accidents??! Is this "fair play"? Germany deserved to loose only for this... and for their arrogance before the match! However, Italy was clearly superior and destroyed the stereotype of being only defensive... Why a lot of you didn't noticed that???
One thing to point out to Germany's credit: one of thier midfielder's was suspended for the game due to Argentina's spat after that game.
Not once have I heard or seen a post by a German giving that as an excuse. OK I don't read German but it is still nice to believe that for once a side is losing with class in this WC of divers and cheater.
I can only hope that the rest of this country realized what a great game soccer can be when played at the highest level. As my wife said during the game, these are the most incredible athletes and she's not a soccer fan by any means.
The goal, a thing of beauty. Germany should be proud, they gave the best team in the world a great run. Grazia Fabio Grasso, Andrea Pirlo, Gigi Buffon, Francesco Totti........ FORZA ITALIA!
I enjoyed the game very much. Both teams played with a lot of effort. The near misses are exciting too. To the detractors who said the game was boring, soccer was not meant to be high scoring in every contest. Its more of a tactical game and that is why each goal has more meaning. To the people who have the final already mapped out and who will win, Italy will probably use a different strategy against France than they did against Germany, since it is a different opponent. France has had a great run, but they can't be looking past Portugal or they will be playing in the consolation game. Don't underestimate Portugal's chances. I know its a cliche, but that is why they play the game. Brazil, although a really good team, did not play up to their potential. Henry was left unmarked on that free kick. I doubt the Italian defenders would play that sloppily. Maybe that is why Roberto Carlos is retiring from international competition. oops.
Italy plays world class footboll this world cup. Gattuso for president. At last an italian player playing real footboll instead of acting out. And why play Totti when you have Del Piero??? Crazy I say but that shows the dept of the italian team. /Fredrik, Sweden
Italy definitely deserve kudos for this win. I havent been a fan of their games at all this tournament till this game. They played it clean and effectively, no diving no acting, was great. Was heck of a game. I only wish Ballack was more of a force in this game, he sat back opposed to his offensive midfield role, thats the only thing that lacked in the german game, but they shouldn't be sad at all, the goal that put them away was no mistake it was just a pure genious pass to a perfect placed shot. Kudos to Italy ...and thanks to the germans for good football
I've seen a number of posts that called low-scoring soccer games boring. There was nothing boring about the 119 scoreless minutes last night! Often a near-miss (like Italy hitting the post and then the crossbar within 60 seconds) is much more exciting than six goals scored by Argentina over Serbia. That's the beauty of the game and until that sinks in with the general public in the US the game doesn't stand a chance to be one of the major sports in this country.
Congrats to a great ITALIAN team....what a performance!!!...Well done LIPPI on a game that had strategy and skill with great discipline...It was truly one of the best games that I have seen the AZURRI play....Fantastic job PIRLO and CANAVARRO...JUST A FANTASTIC team all around.
According to Mr. Wahl Andrea Pirlo is a great player, as Gattuso and Grosso, but I have seen three amazing player: Gianluca Zambrotta, Fabio Cannavaro e Gigi Buffon are the better defensive (and not only) player of the WC. Germany is a good team and I believe that in the future they will win something. Now there's Italy and it's wonderful.
I am an Italian and therefore I could be partial. I think this was a great game and, at the end, it probably was 51% Italy and 49% Germany, very close. One think I like about Italy is that they scored 11 goals with 10 different players. No other team comes close to that (5 germans and portuguese scored goals, 4 french). That means Italy has many more weapons and poses a lot of questions for opposing defences. Another thing is that Italy is excelling without his most famous player at the same level. Ballack had a so-so game yesterday and Germany was without some brillance. Italy will have a fair chance in teh Final, weather with France or Portugal.
A wonderful match and one of the most exciting finishes I can remember in World Cup play!! I only tuned in at halftime but I guess that was enough. The Italian defense is rock solid and I think based on that they have a great chance to hoist the trophy on Sunday.
i highly dislike diving and faked injuries but as for a portugal - italy final being all diving, i dont think so. i mean if you look at hwo france got their goal on spain and their history you will see they are divers as well. i mean henry didnt even get touched and he went down pretending he got hit in the face which lead to zidane doin his thing with a free kick. also ribery besides being very unsightly in that i cant look directly at him because he has a sideshow look to him kicked carlos when he was down, just like a frenchman would, a shady move if there ever was one. i look forward to portugal dismantaling the french chickens, thats their logo btw, and then my team the azzurri battling my lil brothers team and his favorite player portugal and figo. and yes figo does dive as well, not my fav, my lil bros.
It's definitely gratifying to have been the ONLY country to have gotten a point from the Italians AND the only country to have scored on them, and I'm not referring to the own goal (though McBride would have scored it anyway due to his positioning, had it not been knocked in by the Italian player) but rather Damarcus Beasley's shot that the referee, capriciously called offsides on, despite the fact that Brian McBride moved his foot and himself and took himself out of the play. Probably should have been called a goal but that's FIFA for you. LOL
I'm cheering for Portugal all the way, mainly because of the infamous Italian dive versus Australia.
Still I'd rather have seen Italy in the final than Germany. Congrats to the Italian team either way. Good luck! Now we just need Portugal to win so we can have a fun final!
Italy has proven to be one of the best teams in the world in this cup. For those who say they have only given up a fluke goal, you must not have watched the US v Italy game. Italy is lucky to have achieved a tie in that game. Undoubtedly, they would have won handedly if they brought the game they played against Germany to that match. But, the US outplayed and should have won vs Italy. Now, go win the cup from les blues!
Does anybody remember that Italy was against 65.000 German??? Germany is a good team so Italy did a great match: in the final minutes Italians were with 4 forewards (Totti, Del Piero, Iaquinta, Gilardino) tryin' to win the game while Germany was just defending. They won, the whole Italy won. Forza Azzurri!!!
To anyone that expects Zidane to dominate the game, if France are to reach a final against Italy (that is a very big IF, as Portugal will be especially hard for them to beat):
Examine, if you will the Euro 2004 final. France led by a more youthful Zidane had a very difficult time breaking down the Italian defense. Zidane was marked so tightly that he had to come back to the French half of the field just to recieve the ball. He then did little damage. If it weren't for a fluke injury time goal by Wiltord, Italy would have been crowned Champs.
Looking forward to a great France-Portugal semi and a great final, no matter who plays.
Soccer fans should appreciate the quality of play so far. My only disappointment was that Itally did not meet Argentina.
Italy should win it all. Unbeatable defense, Germany had only 2 shots on goal from their superb strikers and Buffon stopped them, while Italy pressed most of the game to win it. Italy found the balance between Defense and Attack while France seems to only be able to use their midfield exceptionally well.
The Italians have faced an immeasurable amount of scrutiny as I have stated in previous blogs on this forum. Their internal strength has been terribly significant in their success over the course of this tournament and the debacle at home has clearly been a catalyst in the bonding of the team. The defense has been characteristically the greatest strength of Italian futbol and this year indicates that little to nothing has changed. Cannavaro has been sublime, especially when considering his original partner Nesta has struggled to recover from injury and Materazzi, while significant to Inter, was not considered an integral member of this national side. Timely goal scoring and goaltending has thrust the Italian team into the final. Goals from unlikely contributing members like Zambrotta who is probably the most underrated player in the entire competition (this guy does it all) and elderly statesman Del Piero, give Marcello Lippi a plethora of options. Buffon is the worlds’ best, hands down, be it at the domestic or international level. So to go against them now would probably be a poor decision. It is infuriating to continue to pour over comments insinuating Group E was the most difficult of groups in the World Cup. I appreciate that the writers of SI, an internationally renowned and celebrated publication, are trying to console the US public over a mediocre (at best) result, but the ‘Azzuri’ advancing to the final does not indicate the strength of the group, only the strength of the Italian side. Many, if not all of the groups, were strong and usually only one of four teams could be considered ‘easy’ opponents. Consider: Group E: Italy, Ghana, Czech Republic, US Or Group C: Argentina, Netherlands, Ivory Coast, Serbia Montenegro These two groups are equally difficult, but when entering the contest, I would assume that the majority of those following the sport closely would rather tried their hand at Group E rather than C. US writers and fans please concede the following: (a) the US team failed to meet expectations (b) whatever excuses you conjure up will not allow the team to redeem themselves until four years from now. (c) accept your fate.
To the people that say that football (soccer if you wish) needs different rules to make it more entertaining to watch and that this world cup is boring with few goals in tha last rounds: Football is not about entertaining the audience, that's the beauty of it, it is primarly a sport, not a show. Entertainment, go to the movies. It's a sport that doesn't care if fans think is good to watch or that the ratings are low (sure, it affects it, but it won't change so someone could sell more advertisements or be entertained). And it IS THE WORLD CUP, every team is good just to reach it, and to get to de quarter or semifinals, don't expect much scoring because ALL the ones that made it are GOOD. Every player in it's position is good, sometimes even great, so it's not boring to watch equally matched teams and players fight it all out for just one goal, one mistake in 90+ minutes of time.
I'm a neutral fan but yesterday's semifinal was really exciting, along with Brazil-France and Argentina-Mexico, the best match of the tournament. And in all 3 of those games, a stroke of genius decided the outcome an all 6 deserved the win. A stroke of genius that lasts seconds decides a game that last 120 minutes, and in each minute the possibility that one is performed, now that is not boring at all, its tense, nerve cracking and intese. The goal by Maxi Rodriguez that beat Mexico (whom I don't understand why no one here considers them a great team, that match was amazing and like spain, it always fields a good team who underachieves) was the best of the tournament so far, along with Brosso's goal yesterday. Both happened in overtime in deadlocked matches. That's as far as i can imagine from boring.
Congrats to Italy, they deserved the win. And also Congrats to germany, they lost with grace and with their heads up playing like no one would think they would play. hope to have a good game in france - portugal.
To bad the best squad are out, but argentines, you deserved to lose, just stare at the bench at the end of the match :Saviola, Messi, Aimar, Riquelme, Crespo, what were you thinking? i'm still amazed by that, germany lost giving their best with their best and fighting like possesed, you practilly said that you didn't care, you gave that game cowardly, you had the best squad. It just saddens me when all that talent is put to waste just "because".
The brazilian team was too arrogant, the players played for themseleves and wasn't never a team.
Ditto. You said it right thank you for a beautiful game of soccer. If Italy plays in the final like they played the Germans, Italy will rout France or Portugal. Remember, this is for the France and Zidane's fans, just look how France played during the tournament. They barely made it to the second round. Then, they played teams that were not really at par with the great European and South American teams. Brazil, looked like they were on Ambien; Brazil played horrible and so they did throughout the tournament. They were not impressive and lacked creativity. France, played very well against Brazil, but remember that Brazil did not challenge France and/or Barthez. Zidane is a classy great player, but he is not the Zidane of 1998 nor is the team. Barthez is very sloppy and France's defense is no comparison to italy's defense. France's offense is no comparison to Italy's strikers.
Italy will beat France or Portugal because they have the best team in the tournament and best defense.
boring??? if you're use to watching NBA, NFL and MLB and are entertained only by constant scoring and collisions, then OK it was boring, but to say that just means you do not like soccer. so say you dont like soccer, but dont say this game was boring. it was exhilirating. even the german fans found excitment in their heartbreak. and i think german fans are the classiest around. they were high fiving us italian fans and congragulating us after the game.
you truly realize how loud these stadiums are when someone scores and the noise level does not even change because it was so high to begin with!!
Sad day for us germans! Consider the whole tournament: the germans played way more attractive football than the italians did (Just think how they cheated there way over Australia ;) But this is football, and because of stories like this it is the most popular sport of the world!
1) German strikers cannot shoot. Podolski had open space and he was always off target passing or shooting! He really needed no defenders guarding him... he took care of himself.
2) Buffon and Cannavaro are the heart of this Italian team. Cannvarro looked as if he can guard three strikers by himself. Buffon fears nothing.
3) Italian midfield sucked, period. Totti was a no-show again. This cannot happen in front of Zidan/France. The French are full of experience... it'll be a one-sided show if the Italians leave the middle of the field so helpless.
4) The Germans are not as good as they think they are. Sorry German fans, but once you open the play up and you get out of your own box (unlike you did for 120 minutes against Argentina) you cannot compete! Your strength is by playing "safety-first" tactics. You underestimated the Italian offense and sent more men forward. When you ran out of gas (chocked) the Italians were all over you.
4) Balack is a big whiner and he is no "great" player. He might be a leader, but he is not a playmaker. His antics during the game were stupid to say the least.
not only good defense wins championships; Italy combined its great players to over power Germany which played with a big heart but was not enough to beat the italians. Podoslki had a clear chance to score and failed; you cannot waste those opportunities against the world's best defense; Italy did not let go the chance of scoring at the very end, something the germans could not do. congratulations for both teams; this was a great game. In my opinion, an advanced final; the winner of this match will be the champion..... ITALY
Congratulations to Italy, WONDERFUL game. And this is why I am a devout German fan, because this has been the first game of the WC that the losing team has accepted the loss without players and fans whining like children.
Cheers to the Germans for remaining the classiest team in the world. Cheers to Italy for playing the "total futbol" that Holland thought they could play. Good luck Italians, classic game.
i think this italian team deserved to win this match, because they played better than the germanys. the germans never deserved to reach this match (they should have lost against argentina) they are the ones who play boring soccer , they lack talent and skills . (they couldn't make opened shots )
italy played really great (specially pirlo in the midfield ), i would like Totti to play better in midfield if they want to beat france. good luck italy
Italy played better and deserved to win. Still, both Italy and France are boring teams. Italy can't score and France even worse.
I think Italy will win the title and show the world that France is nothing less than a lucky and coward side!
The good side is that Brazil is still the best. They just played one bad game and had the wrong coach. Parreira's time is past. His formation and tactics were good in 94 and it did not change until today!!
Bravo Italia, I am thrilled that we may actually have a great "finale" between two countries that adore and challenge this extroardinary sport. I hope they both show off their skill and sportsmanship with grace and dignity.
A colleague of mine at work--with an Italian last name--said he was happy the Italians won but it was too bad most of the game was so boring. To him the overtime, with more wide-open play, and especially the goals, were exciting. I wish he could have watched it with me so I could have tried to explain how high the level of soccer was, how many storylines there were, how absurdly good a central defender Cannavaro is despite being 5'9", how much Germany missed Frings, etc. etc. At a certain point we American soccer fans have to stop worrying about other Americans "getting" it, and just be thankful that we understand enough to appreciate the beauty and poetry and complexity of the game.
FORZA..........AZZURI.....Sunday will be a great game my choice is Italy.It will be sad to see Zizou leave the game as well as Buffon.Good luck to both teams and lets hope the refs dont decide or ruin the game.I feel bad for Portugal losing by a penatly shot was the killer blow, but thats the way it goes....Ciao........Anthony
I'd hate to burst the proverbial happiness bubble here but France I have to say, is the last squad you'd like for Italy to face. They can bring problems for the defense and their midfield is overall better than the Azzurris. Lippi had better do his homework right and not underestimate the French. I do think it's Italy's cup to loose.
On that note, go Italia! You have been sullied and mistreated by both media and fans alike. Finish the job on Sunday and give us the most memorable finale we've all been waiting for!
for those that don't understand... it's the beautiful game because no matter where you travel around the world, you will find it being played. I have travelled to five of the seven continents and seen soccer in all of them...the remaining two are south american ( i hear rumours that the game is taking off down there) and antartica.
As for WC06, it seems fitting that these two teams should meet in the final of a WC that will always be remembered for the disgraceful refereeing.
There are two styles of football in the world. the fastgame that is physical and positive, and the slow game that is defensive, and full of diving and cheating. the problem we will always have is when to teams from the different styles play, one will be penalised for there style.
Les Bleau to win as only a few af there players dive and at least they are not trying to fix matches like the disgraceful italians
Italy-Germany match was a thing of beauty. I am American woman married to an Italian and he taught the beauty of the game. That is takes physical stamina and intelligence not just brawn. The German team were great losers and as far as I am concerned the true final was this game. Of course, I hope Italy brings home the cup as they have proven they are a "team" not a group of prima donnas like Brazil.
I think it was a hell of a game for most of the game they went back and forth. I can't believe some people didn't find it exciting. I think Italy deserved to win and i THINK THE WILL WIN AGAINST AN AGING FRENCH TEAM BUT WHO EVER WINS IT WILL BE A TOUGH GAME
Fast and physical is positive and doesn't involved cheating and diving? How so? Can you elaborate on that? And how is it that a defensive game is suddenly full of cheating and diving?? You're obviously not happy with the Italian win so just say it outright and not make stupid comments that don't make sense.
Absolutely brilliant!! Forza Italia!! Despite the controversy, criticism and heartache, the italian team have shown that determination, mental strength and the bond that each and every player have is enough to see them through. Italy will definitely win the world. They have a point to prove and will!! Never give up and if you truly believe you will achieve.
As a good host Germany had to let the Italians win. Did you see how they again and again went to the floor weeping and holding parts of their body that never were touched? (I wonder what they would do against really tough playing teams like England, Sweden or Scotland?) I think our team simply was afraid, that if the Italians wouldn't win, they would commit collective suicide. And that wouldn't have been good for such a nice, friendly and peaceful tournament. Besides that, I think Italy should be a nominee for Best Actors. Who could beat them in this field?
Forza Azzurri...they played woderfully as did the germans but the Italians are playing as good of soccer that i'v seen them play in recent years...this team is miles ahead of the 2002 squad that was ousted by N. Korea...if the defense plays like they have been playing, with Nesta hopefully comming back...they are the outright favorites to win
Besides that, I think Italy should be a nominee for Best Actors. Who could beat them in this field?
Jealous much, are we? ;-) To simply put away the Italians' win as a gift by the gracious host is downright ridiculous. As much as you hate the Azzurri's for their tendency to play act, this match had minimal OSCAR acting involved.
A great and balanced game, which Italy in the end deserved to win. What a shame that so many people talk nonsense. To me it seems quite a few Germans (not all, perhaps not even the majority, still enough to be easily noticed) have problems coming to terms with their own shortcomings. Admittedly, this isn't easy to do, but some people should at least try rather than resorting to pitiful, childish behaviours. Losing is crappy, but it happens, and often with a reason.
To be fair, it's about time Italy started winning these close games instead of going into shoot-outs and losing. After, the 2002 nightmare with the ref disgracing one of the best football teams and their then coach Giovanni Trappatoni under using his offensive firepower, it is great to see them have success. Their play merits where they are both offensive and defensive. The only blemish is a tie with the USA, in which they scored in their own net!!! They will win Sunday because of their team cohesion. Marcello Lippi deserves a lot of credit for they way this team has responded to adversity.
Italy played quality opponents in this WC. They simply deserve to be where they are...the Final. As far diving is concerned, every team has done it and will continue to do it. Zidane's outstanding match was against Brazil. If Zizou can produce another similar display of talent, the French may have a chance of winning a second cup. Unfortunately, France's success depends upon the genius of one man. May the best team win.
Italy's team played very good, but I agree that their diving is dishonest and far more intensively used than other teams use it. They shouldn't have won against the Aussis in the first place. The last second penalty was a scandal against a very well and brave playing "underdog".
They played against a German team that never played together in this setup because of the very mysterious last minute elimination of the cornerstone of the German defence. If this is taken into the account, their performance wasn't really impressive.
I'm so tired of the ignorant people who watch sport just to see numbers climb in a little digital box posted in the top right of the TV. Excuse me Mr. Wahl, but anyone who truly recognizes the beauty of soccer knows that all play at such a level is "entertaining," whether or not the ball ends up at the back of the net.
Mr. Wahl if it's goals you want I have a suggestion: Go outside, take a trash can, lay it down on your lawn, then take a soccer ball and kick it in the trash can repeatedly, then you can do all the celebrating you want, go back inside and try to appreciate the game.