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7/08/2006 01:22:00 AM
My pick to win final is ...
Zinedine Zidane has shown signs of the play that made him a three-time FIFA Player of the Year.
Posted by Grant Wahl
BERLIN -- If you'd told me before the World Cup that one of my predicted finalists (France and Brazil) would make it to July 9 at the Olympiastadion, I'll admit it: I probably would have chosen the Seleçao. But here we are, and it's France's Zinédine Zidane, not Brazil's Ronaldo, who is about to put the exclamation point on one of the great careers in the history of the sport.
Not so fast, however. An Italy team that had been confined to "Old Europe" status (miserable showings in both World Cup '02 and Euro 2004) has suddenly discovered the meaning of team. No fewer than 10 different Azzurri players have scored in this tournament, and a masterful performance by Fabio Cannavaro has held Italy's back line together from the start (despite the loss of Alessandro Nesta).
Let's not diminish what's at stake here. If France can win, the soon-to-retire Zidane will raise his second World Cup and take his place on the Mount Rushmore of international soccer -- right alongside Pelé and Diego Maradona. If Italy can win, the Azzurri will merely grab their fourth World Cup title, the second-most in history behind Brazil's five.
Beware preconceived ideas, however. Flash back to the final of Euro 2000, when the same two teams met in Rotterdam, Holland. Italy, which had been playing horribly defensive soccer the whole tournament, turned on the offense and took a 1-0 lead that lasted until the dying moments of the game.
Then, miraculously, France's Sylvain Wiltord scored the equalizer in the final seconds of regulation, and David Trezeguet slammed home the golden-goal winner in extra time. (Remember the golden goal? We miss the golden goal, if only for the theater of it all.)
SI had only decided to cover that game at the last second, and so (without a press credential) I scammed a ticket to the game. I ended up sitting amid a huge group of Italians, who ended up blubbering even worse than the homestanding Germans did after their semifinal loss on Tuesday. Not a pretty sight.
Why do I tell you all this? First, to give you some context for this game. France has owned Italy in their last two high-profile meetings, the Euro 2000 final and Les Bleus' penalty-kick elimination of Italy in the 1998 World Cup quarterfinal. Second, because you shouldn't assume that Italy will "play defensive" just because that has been the key to its success so far in this World Cup.
The fact is, the Italians have scored 11 goals in six games and finished the other night with four forwards on the field against Germany. This is not your father's Azzurri, to put it mildly. Marcello Lippi's ragazzi can attack with abandon, and I'm thinking (O.K., hoping) they decide to do so in this game. You've got to like it when two defenders (Gianluca Zambrotta and Fabio Grosso) have scored two of the sweetest goals of the World Cup.
As for France, which team will show up? The one that was magisterial in beating Brazil and Spain, or the one that barely finished second (to Switzerland!) in group play? The biggest difference, of course, has been Zidane, who has rediscovered a verve that we hadn't seen from him since the early part of this century. But give credit as well to workhorses Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele, who have made me feel slightly better (but not entirely) about their taking a spot from a potential second striker (read: Trezeguet). Those two have given Zizou the freedom he needs to work his magic.
So whom do I like? It's an excruciatingly tough game to call. I've gone back and forth all day, and rational thought (and defensive might) suggests Italy should probably win. But I'm a sucker for a fairy tale, and Zidane has come too far not to finish it off the right way. He'll get his moment of genius. Les Bleus will get the win.
France 1, Italy 0.
Take out the chisels and start updating soccer's Mount Rushmore.
Despite how much my heart wants to see Zidane win it all and become a legend, my brain is telling me that Cannavaro and Italy will be too much for the old French team and I like Italy 2-1 in a nailbiter.
I also feared for Italy when they had to face the mighty germans in the veritable lions den, but they pulled through with a performance that can easily be described as magical. I think the fairy tale/team of destiny angle applies to Italy just as easily as Zidane and France. My pick: a trademark Italia win 2-0 with the second goal scored much in teh same fashion as the second goal against Germany. The French will soon see that they've never faced as impenetrable a defense!
Sorry, but it is an error considering France the winner just for Zidane being at his last final match. In the last 30 years only Maradona could win a game by himself. Italy is more a team than France and more motivated. I don't see how France can beat Italy.
I think that Italy's defense is too tough to break down, especially since it is led by the outstanding Fabio Cannavarro. The U.S has the only goal scored on them and it was an own goal. Italy wins 1-0.
i like how france has left offensively dangerous teams (i.e. spain, brazil, portugal!) very little space to work with in the mid field. the last time italy played against such an aggressive defense was when the inconsistent u.s. team clicked for a night. france should only be more frustrating and imposing. italy, on the other hand, has depended too much on their last line of defense (cannavaro, buffon) and has almost miraculously avoided certain disaster several times. italy's playing like a a real team, while france is playing like a well-oiled machine. if france isn't as tired as they looked in the semifinal, this could be a one-sided affair.
Am Bolaji Adeyemi from Nigeria. From my own perspective,i wish from FRANCE win tomorrow match against ITALY. Cos i beleive in Zizou,Patric Viera and Makalele. From record,France always won all their matches against Italy.
As much as I also would love the fairy tale ending for Zidane, if this game goes to penalty kicks (as half of them seem to do these days) I would pick Italy to win because of their goalkeeper. Buffon has been the best keeper in the tournament, with the only goal he has allowed being that own goal against the USA.
With all due respect to Zidane and his gritty French teammates, Italy will prevail in the final. The Azzuri have the best defensive unit in the world, and the best goalie. They have guts and stamina and determination. They also have more firepower. They will neutralize Zidane early and prevail 2-1. Forsa Italia!
I agree. France is on a roll and mentally prepared. Most of the Juventus players are already negociating new contracts to avoid playing in Serie C. Italy has not won vs France since the 1978 WC (2-1). It was the same with Spain, Brazil and Portugal. Let's hope History repeats itself. I also hope it's a good game and I I foresee a close win for France (maybe with a goal from Trezeguet?!). Zidane retiring just after getting the trophy.. What a nice thing and what a ride anyway. 68% of French people did not think the team would make it after the first round and beat Spain. Today, 86% think they will take the trophy home for the next four years. Allez les Bleus (which actually will play in white).
I can't imagine that this won't be a close match, but after watching Italy thwart offensive powerhouse Germany for 120 minutes last week, I can't see France scoring on them. This one may well go into extra time as well. But, for better or worse, Italy will prevail, 1-0.
How can you possibly think France will win 1-0? The Italian defence has not allowed a goal buy an opposing player, the offence has the most goals, more shots on goal tahn any team and they are fighting for respect that NOONE seems to give them. Even though this is Zidane's swan song, Gattuso will be on him like white on rice, Cannavarro will be wearing Henry's uniform with him all game and someone will find the back of the net for Italy be it Toni, Totti or Del Piero. My prediction.... Italy 2 France 0. FORZA AZZURI
I will agree that France will beat Italy; however, they will prevail by a more exciting score than 1-0. More than 3-1 France. It will be a completely open game from start to finish and will be quite a finale for what has been a terrific World Cup - fantastic organization, many exciting games and spectacular goals, wonderful fans and post-game parties. Thank you, Germany! We all owe you one.
As good as Zidane has been playing it's tough to see him at his age breakdown what many would agree upon to be the best overall team defense of Italy. Remember, the only goal they conceeded was against the Americans on an own goal. As much as I hope France wins so Zidane my solidify his place among the greats of international soccer I see Italy pushing through the defensive midfield of France and finding a way to beat Sangol and Barthez.
What about a fairy tale ending for the Italian players, who have had to overcome the enormous distractions caused by the owners and refs? Those French player already have a Championship. It's Italy's turn. France won't win unless they flop (again) in the box.
absolutely not, you will see a different Italy, for sure. And It'll be one that will shut down the mid field with Gattuso. Zidane will go out with his head held high as he has already won everything there is to be won in this sport. But Italy takes it with fluid attack and a defense that will have Henry as frustrated as Klose went out. Italy 2 France 1
I hope Italy wins, but I too think France will win. This should not be the '98 final all over again, because Italy has a much better defensive team than Brazil did (not to mention the lack of a messed up Ronaldo). The only problem, though, is that you need to score in order to win; otherwise you go to penalties. France's defense is better than any that Italy has faced thus far (Germany had surrendered one more goal in one fewer game), and thus I personally find it difficult to imagine the impotent Italian offense scoring. While I could more conceivably see the French nicking a goal (and possibly a second as Italy pushes late), I think the more likely scenario is a 0-0 draw followed by a penalty shootout.
And then I don't know who wins. Most people will say that you should take France because of the histories of the two teams, but the current players (mostly) were not involved in those histories... instead, a PK shootout turns into the sickest display of rendering a soul imaginable. The idea is flawed, but yet this game will be decided on the nerves of six individuals for each side, for the grand prize.
I, too, would like to see Zidane go out a winner. However, I see Italy reversing recent history and winning a tight, defensive final 1-0. As long as it doesn't end in penalties or by the referee's whistle I'm happy. Thanks for the blogs the past month. Been a great read.
Looks to be a good final -yes. Zidane deserves his props regardless of the result on Sunday -definetly. But Italy will win the day. They have as much to prove this time around as ever, it is not just about sending off one player with some additional glory but about earning back some credibilty and respect to a scandal plagued league. And for the players closest to it, a chance to redeem themselves and their country. Its not about one or two great players, its about team and pride. 10 different goal strikers is new WC record. Add to that its well organized defense and solid keeper, and you have the right chemistry of offensive options and defensive support. Maybe not all the glam of your original WC Champ pick of Brazil, but enough of the right stuff to test all of France's strengths and weaknesses. Maybe I like my fairytale ending more than yours.
I suspect that Italy will win this game, they just seem to be peaking at the right time and firing on all cylinders. After watching France slog through their game against Portugal, with nary a trace of magic (or offense) in their play at all, other than Henry's theatrical dive, I can't in all honestly pick France to win.
It's a tough call really, as Italy wouldn't even be here if Grosso hadn't cheated against Australia so it's hard to cheer for Italy and with the aforementioned dive by Henry vs Portugal it's hard to cheer for France (not to mention they've already won the WC in 98, so it's hard to care if they win it again). It'd be nice to see someone different who has NEVER won the World Cup hold it up on the winner's platform, but the way FIFA is set up that'll probably never happen, unfortunately. :(
On Sunday, we're going to see two very good teams who fought tooth and nail to get here. Storylines galore in this contest, but let's not focus on that. Let's all embrace this great game and hope that it goes down in history as one of the greatest World Cup Final matches in the history of the sport.
I want to see France win, and Zidane reach glory - along with Lilian, Pat, Claude, Willy, Frankie and the rest of them. May I put Lilian Thuram on soccer's Mount Rushmore as well - as a tribute to defenders and to a great athlete and citizen. Much will depend on whether ZZ still has left in him one more big game, and how he handles Gattuso and the other Cerberus or two the Squadra will have on his back. Fearsome talent in both teams. Let's hope for a great final.
A fairy tale needs - as traditional - a happy end.Therefore Prince Zinedine will find the Magic Cup and bring it home.From that day on he will be known as His Elegance,King Zizou,the Almighty.The "King of Kings" he will be called and all the people will cheer him when he rides into sunset.
Zidane is a great leader and I think France will have enough motivation and desire to break through the Italian defense to score one goal. (Sorry, Buffon!) However, just one because from the past two games with Brazil and Portugal... France went right into a boring defense mode after one goal. So, in the end, Italy will prevail!!!! They have the energy, team spirit, coordination and most importantly, last minute luck! Prediction: Italy 3, France 1
I cannot see France scoring a single goal against a great defensive Italian team that has allowed only one goal the entire tournament (an own goal none the less). France got lucky against Portugal with the penatly kick, and right now 10 players on the Italian side have scored goals...they are clicking, motivated, and playing their best soccer at the right time. My prediction Italy 2-0. Forza Italia!
Italy are the better team. It's hard to say what Zidane has left in his tank. However, to say that only Maradona in the last 30 years can win a game by himself is a discredit to Zidane. I have seen that man turn "impossible" into "miraculous." The intellect says Italy but the heart says France and my mind has already gotten me into trouble predicting this world cup (see Brazil, England, Argentina). Who would have predicted this final? Strong defense rules the day but Zidane strikes one from 30 yards out, 1-0 France. (Barthez fumbling shots makes things interesting though)
I will stick by my original position on this one; that the winner of the Germany v. Italy quarterfinal match will win the final. Italy has shown their speed, endurance, and crushing defense and I think nothing is going to change against France. Italy wins by 2.
I am not sure who will actually win the match. It’s pretty tight. But I do know this; France will play for the love of the game, for eternity (Pour L'Eternité) while Italy will play for winning and for another star on its shirt. That’s why it is extremely hard to guess who is going to win. But I will say that in demonstrating and mastering the game’s techniques, France will win. Bonne Chance France.
you guys have too much faith in italy's defense. they are a great defense, maybe the best. but this doesn't guarantee they're going to shut france out. i don't see france, who have been excellent in switching from offense to defense, falling into italy's predictable counterattack trap. france's more dynamic game should prevail.
Both teams deserve to win: France because it has eliminated Brazil in the quarterfinal (the last winner of World Cup - 2002) and Italy because of it's excellent defence. Statistic, Brazil has been beaten in 1998 by France in the final, and Italy, has the same story with France in the European's Championship in 2000. Logically, the winner it would be France... but I adore the italians and I want them to win
Besides their late game heroics against the Germans what have the Azzuri done...beaten Australia that great team!!!or the Ukraine!!! Please the French took on two of the strongest offensive teams(spain and Brazil) and pretty much controlled those games.
Italy has Buffon which has had to deal with twice as many shots on goal as Bartez.
I think this will be a close and strategic battle and as far as I can tell the only general on the field is Zidane.
I, also, believe that all of the pressure is on the Italians. They may avoid punishment for their roles in the scandal. France seems less distracted.
The key phrase in this analysis is "Which France will play?"
If it's the France that beat Spain and ran all over Brazil...then yes, I agree that they should prevail. Since they've gained my respect along the way, I will be rooting for them.
But if it's the France that was not impressive in their first few games, and, worse yet, in the second half against Portugal (in my opinion, the result of that game had more to do with Portugal not being able to get the ball in the goal than with how well France played), then Italy should win.
Whatever happens tomorrow...may the team that plays the best win, with minimal injuries and no questionable plays and ref calls! (Or maybe I'm dreaming...?)
France. Only because I feel they will want it more. Italy fought hard against Germany, while France has seemingly nuetralized everyone they've played since getting out of Group. The Italians certainly have played extremely well defensively, but a true test against Germany may have peaked their interest. Barring a score prediction which I am never right, I agree with others that it is simply a treat for all who watch.
PS- I wouldn't be upset if Italy won either, but I do believe position for position, team against team, France will win.
a lot of French players are retiring after the final and they will go into the game more motivated than Italy...France has let two goals in during this WC, a penalty versus Spain and a complete fluke versus SK. Italy hasn't beaten France in 28 years, why would that change ???
nobody talked about the luck the italians had throughout the tournament: easy opponents, last minute goals, arrogant style against inferiour teams. There are just not worthy winning the cup whith only one good game against germany. I guess france will score a ridicilous goal this time and the spaghetti's will not be able to recover.
In the end the germans will be happier with their 3rd place as the 2nd place italians.....grande catastrophe !
I support neither of the two teams. I only support Zidane. This old man is definitely the hero of this worldcup. I hope he can continue to write the legend. But I think Italy is stronger. So a score of 1:0 is pretty reasonable. But soccer is full of surprise. You should always be careful on your guess
Is just a mite biased, but I draw the line at my friend's claims that Luca Toni can net a hat trick in the final.
I'm gonna say Italy to win; but if I didn't, my 10 years of supporting them will have been for nought.
This is the moment i've waited for; for gattuso, cannavaro, buffon, camoranesi and del piero. the azzurri have been great recently.
As for people who talk about Italians diving, can we drop that stereotype? I love this team and hate to see anyone dive, but in the entire competition, the only obvious simulation was committed by Totti, whom i hold very little respect for.
The true acting awards have to go to Portugal, whose outrageous 'style' is killing football. Forza Italia, Forza Azzurri, Forza 'fair play'!
I understand that everyone looks at the second half of the Portugal game and sees a tiring or less than attractive team. But it is very professional and authoritative to know that you can hold a one goal lead. The French and the Italians are good at this tactic...and both are in the final. Having a strong back four means that a one goal lead should do it. Of course, this is dangerous and can lead to late goals Euro 2000 and France v. S.Korea.
It may even be considered cocky...let's see what you've got...come and get it if you can. I don't think the final will be played this way.
One factor that worries me is the tactical decisions that will be made by the coaches which are after all an important piece to this puzzle.
1) Italy's defense has certainly been airtight during the tournament but France has only taken 2 goals, one of which was a PK against Spain. 2) Granted, Italy eliminated Germany but France eliminated Spain, Brazil, and Portugal. 3) France is going all the way. 4) France 3 Italy 0. 3 goals scored by Magic Ribery.
I have said since the beginnng of the tournament that Italy will get to the finals. Lippi is vastly experienced and knows how to get the best from his all Italy-based squad. Besides that Italy have depth and youth on their side. I see a 1-0 win for Italy, however ZIZOU might have other ideas. If he has his day and clicks with HENRY, France could nick it and extend their dominance over Italy. Whichever team wins the cup thouroughly deserves it. Let's toast to a great display of soccer artistry and technique by two teams who confounded the critics.
It isn't "arrogant style against inferiour teams", it's Italy always play at the level of his opponent (or just a little better). Great games versus great teams, boring game versus boring adversaries. I agree we were lucky with Australia for the PK, but we were unjustly playing 10 vs 11, and Australia were not robbed of a victory, but of a draw. We had "easy" opponents in Australia and Ukraine, but we had the hardest group (with FIFA number's 2 and 5 and Ghana)
For the final I think France is the worst team for us to play against, and Zizou is the best player in the world cup (from midfield and up... credit also for Cannavaro e Buffon). I think the winner will be decided in the extra times.
Okay I like italy but anyone who says toni nets a hat trick is insane. Toni has been virtually useless. Let's be honest neither of his goals against Ukraine were that spectacular. I think this match is too close to call. As grant wahl said in his article it depends on which italy comes to play. If its the same italy of the tournament then I think that its a good sign for italy. If its the ultra-defensive italy of the past then italy is screwed. Zidane looked sluggish in france's last match. If you are depending on him to win the day I'm not sure. Best luck to both teams...oh and a note its Forza Italia! :-D
Theirs something about France, and the way they have been able to surprise so many people in this world cup, myself included. France surprise so many people by defeating the defending champs, Brasil. I believe Italy will score once, but Zidane is going to go out as a champion. Bottom line!
France will win! Zizou should leave the scene with the cup in his hands. Both teams played a miserable first round but luckily came back early enough. Italy was just proven to be the champions in diving already and second in pretending injuries. So I hope Les Bleus walk off the field with their 2nd cup! They deserve it, also because they send Brazil home - just as Germany would have deserved it sending Argentina home. Italy's goal against Germany (who cares about the second one) was good but not as great as Italians like to see it, because it was a also a massive defense failure - not the only one in this worldcup but one with far reaching impact. Frings was badly missing in this game - and the ban was ridiculous - the Germans had nothing to be mad about and were madly attacked by the Argentinians. Strangely enough Italian media and soccer association was hyperactive to have one of Germany's key players banned for the semi final and FIFA followed their arguments. May France be strong and lucky that day! Vives les Bleus!
All around team play, better coach, better strategy, not bi-dimesnional like france henry-zidane, more than 10 italian player suggest Italy will have to outplay and outscore France. Italy 3 France 1 (lone goal by zidane on a penalty, and france scoring first early, this will make the italy team go wild and crush FRance
Lets not forget most of us never even picked Italy to make it out of the Group stage. Italy's also had the easier road the finals, by far. The Germans weren't as good of a test as we would have liked to seen, so I can't see Italy winning it all. France 2-0
Honestly, it's a pretty tough choice. Both teams have their strengths and even though the French have Zidane and Ribery, I think I'll have to lean towards Italy. I think the keepers will be the stars of the match and at the end Italy will eventually get through Barthez. Italy wins 1 - nill.
Zidane is is a god, I will miss what presence he brought to the game for so long. I hope more talent like his will be coming out of the french leagues. If only DeSailley and Cisse could have played, we would have seen yet again another shimmering example of french excellence. God bless France and les bleus. Laissez les bon temps roullez!!!!!!!
zidane next to pele?? yea right dont even try to say something like that. the guy isnt that good. if u put someone on the soccer mount rushmore it would be buffon easily just for being the worlds best goalie
Zidane scores a couple of goals (including a penalty kick gift in the semis) and all of the sudden hes God's gift to the World Cup. I personally think he is an overhyped relic. The media needed a storyline and they found it in Zidane. Italy is all around a better team and they will beat France. The way Germany hammered Portugal today shows the difference in what Italy had to face in the semis and what France faced.
The French team have won even before the game has started. No denying Zidane is the best soccer player in the world though Pele thinks otherwise.They didn't get to the finals to say hi to Italy but crash "em.
I dont get how people can even think that France is going to win 5-2...not even Germany did that against prthigo (sp).....and considering that Italy has only let in one goal and it was a self goal....like sure France many win but it wont be 5-2 like some guy said.But im going with Italy like before we were going to face Germany every one though Germany was going to kill Italy but Italy pulled thrw and I think that they will do it again..but the game can go both was so good luck to both teams
Both teams have great defenses. Italy's is better, having not allowed a single goal the entire tournament (the own-goal in the U.S. game doesn't count). And if a French attacker breaks down the Azzurri defense, the best goal keeper in the tournmant will be there waiting to make yet another save. Niether team is known for its attack, but Italy's has shown that if it chooses to (as in the game against Germany), it can attack relentlessly until it scores. Plus Italy has so many different players that can score, so there are too many Italian players to try to stop, whereas France has a select few that Italy's premier defenders can pay special attention to. In the end, it's Italy's balanced defense and offensive attack that will win out over France. In this final, the more complete and balanced team will win over the more star-dependent team. Italy wins by two goals (either 3-1 or 2-0, I can't decide which). The only suspense is when the goals will be scored.
If these two teams play twice back to back on the same day, the reuslt will most probably be different. The game of Football has so many variables that it's hardly any different from tossing a coin, when played between two such teams, of course.
So, I do not see any point in taking credits by predicting the result, because there is no ultimate winner anyway between these two giants, even thogh one has to win on a prticular day.
Mr. Wahl. As much as I respect your writing I believe that here you are wrong. Italy has grown stronger in each game and is now firing on all cylinders. Italy remembers Euro 2000 and the 98 game as well (remember how close Del Peiro came to scoring in both?). The memory will fire their hearts and give them the extra edge over the French. Forza Italia 2 - 0 for the win.
I have to say it, France will win, for sure! Because Zidane is leaving, because they know how to dupe the adversaires, and because they won against brasil. i understand that some of you think that Italy could win, but France is DEFINITELY decided to go back home with the cup... to be continued... ps: France 2, Italy 1
Regardless of France winning or losing, to mention Zizou alongside Pele and Maradona is simply outrageous. Zidane is a great player, yes, but not at the level of Pele, and certainly not at the level of Maradona. One would even be hard-pressed to claim that he was more significant to French futbol than Platini. But wait, who here has ever seen full length game with any of Pele, Maradona, or Platini? Sorry, boys, but 1986 marks an epoch between quality futbol and the crap that passes for its namesake in modern times (the Argentine teams of '94 and '06 excluded). I challenge anyone who speaks so highly of King Zizou to watch some of the real masters at work....
All that said, if Zizou does have a good game and France scores early they'll have a good shot at the Cup. Otherwise, Italy will be victorious by a 3-0 margin.
I'm pulling for Les Bleus, but I think L'Azzurri will win 1-0. My second guess is L'Azzurri beat Les Bleus 2-1 in overtime. My hope is that Les Bleus win 2-1 in overtime. Whatever the outcome, I hope both teams go all out and make it an exciting match--a la the 2000 Euro Cup Final.
In this World Cup 2006 it has been one surprise after the other, so who knows. However, I hope France wins!! It's too bad we are already at the last game. Germany just won third place. I enjoyed it all tremendously. See you in four years. Go FRANCE!!!
I think that this will be the best game of the tournament so far. Both the French and Italian teams have strong defenses and good organization. Italy's goalie is WAY better than Barthez, but the good thing is that France's defense keeps Barthez from having to stop many shots. I think France wins 2-1 late in the game, but it really could go any way
Viva la Frances!!! My head is telling me Italy, but my heart screams for Zidane to go out the winner. Zidane scores one off of a PK, Dugarry beats Buffon, Italy's luck runs out(and yes it has been luck that had gotten them this far. the Italian style of soccer is to get hit in the arm and fall down and grab your knee) france 2-0 over teh cheating italians
I can't believe the USA could not even show the games on regular TV. Of course, if the Americans had made it to the semi-final and final, then it would have been another story. This is pretty pitiful. Anyway, right now Germany is third, i guess Italy will be second and France will be the winner. GO FRANCE !!!!
It never ceases to amaze me how far the press will go to CREATE a heartwarming story. Zidane was a great player, and is a class act - but he just hasn't earned all of the accolades being heaped upon him by the press this time around. It's a great story, it just isn't real. Ribery has been the real gem on the French side. But they are old, and their luck is coming to an end.
The Italians are playing some serious team ball. Buffon owns this World Cup (and will lift the award, making it official). Cannavaro will keep Henry in check - has has been as brilliant as Buffon. I think this game will be similar to the Germany game - Italy will play defense early and pour it on late to avoid penalty kicks, No extra time - Del Piero scores around the 80th minute in a 1-0 Italy win.
While I think that the French defense hasn't gotten enough credit because they've been overshadowed by Zidane (who was masterful against Brazil), the Italian defense is even stronger. (Cannavaro is incredible). Both offenses are clearly overmatched here. I say the difference is in goal, and a Barthes mistake leads to a 1-0 Italy win.
Azzurri win, 1 or 2 to nil. Gattuso gives Zidane too little space in the midfield for him to have the effectiveness he had vs. Brazil. The back four keep Henry from waking up. Barthez's status as "the weakest link" finally catches up to France.
My heartfelt agreement with the post above: "Forza fair play!"
i respect both teams cause italy had a great goalie in buffon who allowed one goal, but were lucky enough to win their stage and avoid the likes of brazil, france, and portugal. also they play like a team. france they beat spain, brazil and portugal and zidane is the reason he is leading the team with his magic. what concerns me is bathez who looks nervous against portugal and their age. but i lean the edge to france cause of their title experience and history on their side.
I don't know how you can say that France "owned" Italy in the Euro 2000 championship. The azzuri were winning that entire game until they basically started congratulating themselves during regulation. This time, that will not happen, and Zidane is six years older
France. Any talk of Buffon being the best 'keeper in the world is ridiculous. He has been barely tested this entire tournament. Keller's performance against Italy, Kahn against Portugal, Lehman against Argentina. Those were performances. Not Buffon standing there watching the action
Italy only beat Austraiia with what should have been a carded dive and with 12 sec left in OT. Not scored against?? Look at Portugal in the semi. MY BET? Even odds but I take France as my sentimental favorite. This, despite my pool picks: before the first game, I had Fr. not coming out of group play. I had Switz 1 (& SK as 2) and Switz going to 3d place and Germ beating Spain in the Finals. Italy only behind Port as drama queen of WC 2006. Port lost and so should Italy if justice be served.
France all the way... Zidane is by far the best player the world has seen in the last 15 years. Not to mention that he might be one of the most humble people in the international lime light. Of course, this will be a tough match, great to watch but I think France has the momentum and drive to push this one through.
Much as I like and respect Zizou, I have to say Mr. Wahl, the Azzurri will prevail in the final and win their 4th Cup. It seems your only reason for a French victory is a so-called 'fairy tale ending' for the great Zidane. But don't forget this may as well be the WC farewell play for many of the great Italian players, the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero. Let's be fair and hope the better team win.
Considering that Italy had to fight in the most difficult group (E), that France only impressed against Spain and not with a floppy Brazil or Portugal (both 1-0 and last one with PK), that average age of the blues is over the 30.....I think there will be no match at all... We saw the strength of Germany and Portugal today... When Italy push on the throttle, the opponent's defense thrills.. No doubt, Italy will write history once again, being the only European Team with 4 titles.
Italy 1 France 0 in first overtime Italy will have one redcard ejection and will be forced to play a man down but despite their unfortunate loss they will overcome with a goal by Totti at 35 yds out. My prediction was in my dream and I seen Totti being a hero with a broken ankle. Zidane bows out gracefully and retires meanwhile henry and ribery both have shots on goal and play an amazing game.
What a shame for France. I can't believe what Zidane did. Whatever Materazzi told him, Zidane had no excuse to hit him. Zidane behaved like a spoilt kid having his temper tantrum (tit for tat). Poor kid his ego was hurt. Right there and then he destroyed his "glorious" exit from his soccer career unto retirement. On top of it he took down with him his team's spirit. What a shame. I'm glad he is retiring and I'm glad Italy won.