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Get your pitch fix with SI.com's writers in the World Cup Blog, a daily journal of World Cup commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
7/05/2006 07:23:00 PM

No love lost here

Christiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo (17) drew the ire of the French for what they perceived as diving.
Michael Steele/Getty Images
Posted by Mark Bechtel

MUNICH, Germany -- Haven't we seen this before? France's 1-0 win over Portugal in Wednesday's semifinal had enough familiar elements that I felt like I could have watched some old games on tape and caught the gist of it without leaving my couch. (Had I done so, I would have missed a pretty entertaining game, though.)

The first thing I thought I'd seen before was the French MO. To find the last time France won a World Cup game 1-0 after Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane collaborated on a goal, you have to go all the way back to Saturday, against Brazil. In that game, French coach Raymond Domenech started the same XI he ran out against Portugal, and he made the exact same subs (Sylvain Wiltord for Florent Malouda, Sidney Govou for Franck Ribery, Louis Saha for Henry). The defensive-minded midfield did its job, stifling a team stacked with creative players, and France came out a winner.

Then there was the bad blood. Before the game, Portugal striker Helder Postiga said, "The rivalry between Portugal and France is enormous." A big reason for that: Three years ago Domenech was coaching the France U-21's. The team lost to Portugal in a shootout with a spot in the European championships on the line. It was a nasty game -- Djibril Cisse of France was shown the gate for punching a Portuguese player -- and afterward, Portugal celebrated by trashing its locker room. (The game was played in Clermont-Ferrard.) Portugal's sports minister issued a condemnation of his team -- which featured several current World Cuppers, including Postiga, Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiago. Domenec's take: "They are savages. Do they think they are still in the time of the conquistadors?"

Domenech tried to play down the contretemps and any lingering animosity in the days leading up to the semifinal, but for a few minutes during the game it looked like tempers might boil over. The cause? What else? Diving. Ricardo Carvalho got up in Zidane's grill after the French captain went down in the 27th minute. Two minutes later, Ronaldo took a spill in front of the French bench. Domenech started chastising him, which didn't go over well with Portuguese coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Big Phil looked like he wanted to have a go at Domenech until the fourth official intervened.

Three minutes after that came the play that led to the game's only goal. Malouda played a beautiful ball to Henry in the box; as Henry turned to pursue it, Carvalho went for the ball with his right foot, missed, and then cracked Henry across the ankle with his left. Carvalho was wagging his finger -- the international symbol for "Don't you dare, ref" -- before Henry alit. Ref Jorge Larrionda, who was inconsistent to say the least, got it right, though, and pointed to the spot. Zidane put it away with the kind of clinical ease that must have had every English fan watching wanting to gouge his or her (or Frank Lampard's) eyes out.

It was the proper call, but don't try telling that to Scolari, who was about to get even hotter. In the 37th minute, he about lost it when he thought Willy Sagnol tugged down Ronaldo in the box as they were chasing a Luis Figo cross. Again, Larrionda got it right, but the Portuguese weren't having any of that. The entire bench erupted, and someone chucked a water bottle onto the pitch, where it stayed for a few minutes.

There was also plenty of ill will six years ago, when France won a chippy Euro 2000 semifinal that was decided by -- you guessed it -- a controversially awarded PK that Zidane converted.

It all might be coincidence, but you can't blame the French for hoping it isn't, that history really is repeating itself. Because by beating Portugal in the Euro 2000 semis, the French won the right to play Italy, the team that's waiting for them in World Cup final. Six years ago, the French won the battle of the blues. If the way they've played in the knockout stages -- with splendid defense and inspired creativity from a rejuvenated Zidane -- is any indication, we just might be feeling déjà vu all over again come Sunday in Berlin.

130 Comments:

Posted: 7:39 PM   by Anonymous
The ref got most of the calls right today, as those of us who had television replays could see. Ronaldo's dive in the box was just that, and Scolari couldn't see the truth for wanting the equalizer.

I thought the ref called an excellent game, as did the ref in the first semifinal. They didn't allow diving and made the guys play soccer. Portugal only has itself to blame -- someone on this site has noted that the French goalie might make a mistake that would help Portugal -- and Figo should have buried the header off that rebound.

France and Italy? Hmmm. Zidane still is a marvel. Does Italy have an equal?
Posted: 8:31 PM   by Anonymous
The referee tonight was outstanding. The only thing he got incorrect was not booking the Portugese for diving. They were shameful and really FIFA ought to do something about them. The French players did well not to over react and get booked and miss the final, the ultimate honour for any soccer player. The final will be tight but both teams looked tired in the semi finals. Whoever recovers the best will win. History will repeat itself. Les bleus 2-1, with Zidane confirmed amongst the Gods, Pele and Maradona..
Posted: 8:34 PM   by JPAustin
I agree - excellent 'no-call' on Ronaldo's dive in the box. He was airborne, arms flailing before anyone even touched him. Portugal was outclassed by a better team today.

And what was Barthez thinking? It looked like he tried to toss the ball back over the bar instead of catching it..no wonder all of Zidane's hair has fallen out.

I think France is the sentimental favorite, and I admit, Italy hasn't much been on my radar, but I think it's when you underestimate someone that they're the most dangerous. Should be a good final.
Posted: 8:48 PM   by Anonymous
Never underestimate the heart of a champion and a stubborn coach.
We (France) did the minimum we had to do to win, we struggled and suffered during the 2nd half but we held up.
C. Ronaldo lost all credibility with his dives.
Figo was a gentleman until after the game when he went to whine to the ref and applaud him sarcastically.
French catholics, muslims, black and jews are dancing together on the Champs Elysees. Only soccer can do that to people.
Half a million people in Paris !!
History repeats itself. Italy won't survive the French wave.
Et 1, et 2 et 3-0 like in 1998.
Posted: 10:17 PM   by Anonymous
Portugal, as always, were a disgrace this game. Not with their playing, which was much better than against england, but with their incessant diving and crying.

Luckily there was a good ref who kept the game clean. I love how Portugal seemed to think they deserve a free penalty kick if France gets one. Getting an equalizer is not a right, Ronaldo.

Also luckily enough for us, France played the better game as a whole and deserved their victory (even though they fell apart offensively at the end)
Posted: 10:21 PM   by Anonymous
That penalty call was a huge cop out for the French. Henry easily could have avoided the tackle--it was reminiscient of the type of tackle in the Italy-Australia game.

Portugal did not sit back as Brazil did. Despite France playing an 8-1-1, the Portuguese created many opportunities. Indeed, as the commentators put it, "in theory" Portugal was the better team. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize (Figo!).

France will show its age against Italy. Italy is a lot like Portugal, but they do have better strikers--I expect anywhere from a 2-0 to 4-0 Final in favor of the Italians.
Posted: 11:04 PM   by Anonymous
Best time of the game: Ronaldo's tears at the end. Those didn't seem fake. This guy is such a scum, and his dives only confirmed the weakness of Portugal's game. We saw both the classy and the crassy today. Glad the former won. I will however concede that Portugal fought hard till the very last moment, with the energy of hopelessness.
Posted: 11:08 PM   by Anonymous
What game were you watching? If there was any diving going on it was on the part of France. Portugal outplayed and should have won. I think that there are haters that just can't see what an amazing player Cristiano is, he's young and will be back in 2010.
Posted: 11:31 PM   by Anonymous
finally, the WC is rid of the worst divers and floppers in years !!!
its a shame too b/c this portugese team is actually quite talented, thats why its sooooo very frustrating to see them diving at every little push.
chr. ronaldo should be ashamed and booked and then suspended for several games, a player with that much talent diving the way he did, disgusting.

oh well, thankfully the french made sure this atrocious behavior was not rewarded with a fianls birth.
Posted: 11:36 PM   by Anonymous
I can't help but notice that despite all the attention being paid to France's defense, Italy has yet to be scored upon this tournament (scoring on on themselves in the US match doesn't count). Yes Henry and Zidane are great, but are they good enough to accomplish what nobody else has?
Posted: 12:01 AM   by Anonymous
The French looked ok. Zidane never gave up but he was the only threat. The Italian defence will probably not let him breathe which may allow other French players to get a shot or two. Tonight they only shot 3 times. The French PK was very generous, kind of like the one that sent Australia home. Only thing, this game showed that Portugal had more chances. The French goalie is very scary. The Italian forwards may have a field day. This game is beautiful and we never know. Italy has been better in the tournement and if the refs stay out of the game, Italy will deservingly win 3-1. Watch the games again, notice the way they started the passing from the 1/4 field all the way up to goal. Great small percision passing and then shots.
1) Portuguese diving certainly has won them few fans, and with justification. That being said, Ronaldo's one "dive", while certainly no penalty, was hardly outrageous (even if his comments about being robbed were.) His play tonight, in the face of mass booing, was by far the best thing on the pitch. No one in the game today attacks with his pace, and few seem to be able to hit the ball so well with both feet. He's a guy that will always be hated, with his pretty boy looks and the taint of a diving and otherwise ill-mannered team, but he is a hell of a player.

2) Meira showed himself to be a hell of a central defender.

3) The French backline, minus a few torments of Abidan by C. Ronaldo, and Figo, have been superb. Sagnol has been a revelation on the right, Thuram a rock in the center, always in the right place, and Vieira wins almost every headball in the box on the set pieces. That they have done so well with such an incredibly flawed goal keeper, with the worst hands of any professional keeper I've ever seen (okay, maybe the second Aussie keeper was worse) is a testament to how good they are.

4) The game was boring after France scored. Unlike the game against Brazil, when they continued to press, they ran out of energy. Zidane and Vieira are indispensable, but they hardly covered any ground in the last 30 minutes. Worse, as Portuguese stepped up the pressure when the French had the ball, they really didn't move for each other. I'm not sure that I'd be taking out the erratic but dynamic Ribery, for he is the one guy on the field who seems to have the energy to go up and down.

5) Italy, with better subs, and better fitness, and a day's extra rest, will be a lot of trouble. If France do not score early, I think they will have real trouble.

6) I don't expect a great game, but rather a cautious one. I think France will come out fast and try to knock Italy on its heels, but if either gets up, we'll have yawning pauses of players getting stretchered off. The best to be hoped for is 0-0 until late in the game.

7) Just have to say it once: Zambrotta! What a marvel of efficiency. He makes it all look so easy that you have to see him a few times to realize what a fabulous player he is.

8) Though he was less today than the dazzling scythe that we saw against Brazil, Zidane remains a singular player. I've never seen anyone move like he does, finding unseen angles, a spinning top almost on the edge of inelegance at times until he finds the angle that delivers all. He will be missed.

9) I still miss Argentina.... Did we really not get to see Messi play one more time?
Oh yes--and as was noted the other night, FIFA should really punish diving when it is viewed post-facto, after the game, with a one-game suspension (or more for repeat offenders. Ronaldo's bid for the penalty was not, in my opinion, a gross dive or a penalty kick, but Postiga's fall with mystery air blowing him over should be dealt with harshly.
Posted: 12:22 AM   by Anonymous
Gimme a break. Anyone who says the Portuguese are classless and dive a lot has not been watching the World Cup. EVERY player on every team takes dives. Henry took one in the Spain game that led to a PK and no one complained about that. Also, Portugal clearly outplayed the French today and deserved to win. Downgrading the Portuguese -- as everyone seems to have done this tournament -- only displays the shortcomings of those bitter fans from other countries. So let's move on and watch as Henry tries to win another Academy Award against Italy in the final. Viva Italia!
Posted: 12:25 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal outplayed France in all aspects of the game: possession, corners and shots on goal. Go ahead, put aside your prejudices and look at the FIFA stats. They were unlucky not to score in excellent opportunities near the end of the game.
Once again France beat Portugal on a garbage penalty.
Posted: 12:33 AM   by Anonymous
Are they good enough to accomplish what nobody else has? I would say they most certainly are. Brazil and Portugal were both unbeaten - until they played France.

I've always enjoyed watching Zidane (who doesn't), but after watching him through the knockout rounds, nothing about him surprises me anymore. He's the closest thing to "magic" that I've ever seen - I predict France wins 1-0 in one of the greatest finals in World Cup history. We've all seen what Zidane can do when he plays in a game that may be his last. I can't even begin to imagine how inspired his play will be in the game that is his last.
Posted: 12:34 AM   by Anonymous
What a game! Very exciting and open game. What a shame France had to ruin it playing 11 guys on defense. And Barthez!, killing time minutes after the 2nd half whistle. What a bum!! France played well and deserved the win. It seemed Deco disappeared and Figo blew their only chance of tying the game. I predict Italy wins 1-0. They are too strong in the back. Del Piero with the winner once again!
Posted: 12:34 AM   by Anonymous
Well, since we are talking about French defence, I would like to highlight Lilian Thuram's performance today... as just like Zizou, this WC final is gonna be his last. So, yes I am one of Zizou's biggest fan, but I thought that our long serving defender also deserve the congrats and the thanks. So farewell Lilian...
Posted: 12:36 AM   by Anonymous
Hope FIFA reviews tape and hands out fines and suspensions for repeated diving as the Portugese have stooped to Mexico's historical level (though not this year - tricolors played great). It's a shame Italy made it to the final because they dive atrociously as well. But they do have some smart and skilled players as well - Zambrotti has been great and glad to see Del Piero score at the end. Just feel said for Klinsmann, still my all-time favorite player, who's team has shown class and determination but in the end just could string together an attach. Hurrahs for the wonderful German hosts! Hope the final is clean and well played. Zidane is pure class...
Posted: 12:37 AM   by Anonymous
Looks like we have a repeat visitor here who is obsessed with Portugal's Ronaldo and the team's ethics (are you an English fan, crybaby?). Consider Portugal is one of the poorest and smallest nations in Europe, therefore to have made it to the semi's is a magnificent achievement. I don't know the history of Portugal's antics, but I have seen them in this world cup. They did not corner the market on either poor ethics nor diving. Rather, they played solid, spirited football, knocking out some of the finest. The final 10 minutes of this game had Portugal controling, and banging hard on what turned out to be a mature (and slightly lucky) French defense.

Rooney deserved to go, no matter what Ronaldo's involvement, so get over it! But if you truly subscribe to the ancient, racist "black legend" and want badly to believe Portugal met a righteous ending, then consider the irony: They were beat-out by one of their own tricks (Henry clearly made the most of the "touch" by Carvalho in the penalty box). Contrarily, Portugal NEVER benefitted from any of their alleged diving, throughout the World Cup.
Posted: 1:17 AM   by Anonymous
Let me get this straight, you're mad because Henry didn't work harder to avoid being blatantly fouled in the box? You need to get mad at Carvalho for stupidly trying to hook Henry's leg when Henry had lost his touch on the ball.

Sure the French often went down easily; but the Portuguese were blatantly going down without any contact at all. Ronaldo's leap in the box takes the cake (with the Portuguese bench losing its cool yet again).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending France... the negative manner in which they played the second half made me sick. I would've rooted for Portugal if they would've just stuck to playing football.

Really, I don't think either team deserves to be in the final. Too bad Argentina or Germany wasn't on their side of the bracket.
Posted: 1:22 AM   by Anonymous
Get your facts straight: Henry's dive (he did get hit, but definitely not in the face... but at least he got hit Ronaldo) led to a free kick from about 25 yards out. Hardly, a guaranteed goal there. Too bad for Spain, they didn't put someone on the back post and they got punished for it.
Posted: 1:24 AM   by Anonymous
What a great game for the French this afternoon! A questionable penalty, but the ends justify the means: Portugal had to be taught a stern lesson that cheating will not secure a place in the final of the World's Most Beautiful Game!

Regardless of who had won the semi-final game between Portugal and France, my only hope is that Italy finally gets the loss that it deserves! Playing "easy" teams like Australia and Ukraine certainly does not earn you the right to call yourself a soccer "powerhouse." I suppose that dirty play, faked fouls, a ridiculously-awarded penalty kick against Australia, and a defensive snooze-fest against a young yet surely deadly German team heading into 2010, does.

My hope is that the brilliant Henry, Zidane, Thuram and Ribery will be celebrating on Sunday night! Although I am Polish (and dismayed by my national team's dismal performance, save for the valiant effort of our goalie), I will proudly wave the flag of any team that puts Italy and it's arrogance to rest.

Italy's theory that they are born to play football because their country is shaped like a boot and ball is erroneous: The shoe actually belongs to Zidane, and the ball is actually Italy's butt.

Let's teach Italy the same harsh lesson that was dealt the Portugese this afternoon!

Vive La France!
Posted: 1:32 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal never really threatened the French goal, never except when Barthez made his error. The French are just too good defensively as a team. And Portugal is just a bunch of cheaters with no striker (Pauleta - what a joke!). They know how to play in midfield, but for scoring they rely entirely on dives. Ronaldo and Postiga (unbelievable he didn't get booked) in the box and Pauleta outside were just the worst examples.
I'd like France to win the final, and with their defense, they have a good chance. Their's is better than the Italian's!!! Though they have no Cannavaro, their are better as a team. Only worry for me is Barthez, who is no keeper to win two WCs with
Posted: 1:37 AM   by Anonymous
Diving really makes for a boring game!
Posted: 2:10 AM   by Anonymous
Well I have to admit it's put up or shut up with Portugal, I can't say they played horrible but I expected more from them. "Dives" c'mon they all do it, Portugal just hasn't perfected the "Dive". I guess the only thing that I can't stand for is when Ref's call a PK, especially like that one, to decide a match...especially rivals!
Posted: 2:28 AM   by Anonymous
"The first thing I thought I'd seen before was the French MO. To find the last time France won a World Cup game 1-0 after Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane collaborated on a goal, you have to go all the way back to Saturday, against Brazil."

And the time before that was, oh, right, Zidane had never set up an Henry goal until this week.
Posted: 2:31 AM   by Anonymous
Let me get this straight, you're mad because Henry didn't work harder to avoid being blatantly fouled in the box?


Let me ditto this, the poster who said that above clearly doesn't understand how soccer/football works.

It isn't Henry's job to avoid getting fouled, it is the defenders job NOT TO FOUL.

It is not a dive for Henry to have not done acrobatics to avoid Cavarhlo. You might as well blame McBride for not dodging the Italian's elbow or blame the protugese player for not doing everything he could to move his crotch out of Rooney's way.
Posted: 2:44 AM   by Anonymous
well... what a great dive by Henry. he was superb and he is so professional in diving :p. Stats shows that porugees outclass french in most areas.
If ref would be fair in next game then it will be 3-1 or 4-1 win for italy. or sorry to say Henry have to show his diving skills once again to win the finals...
Posted: 2:52 AM   by p auL
C. Ronaldo is one of the most talented men in futbol right now; unfortunately, he might as well carry around a kiddie pool with him on the pitch. Portugal needs to rely on their skill, not their acting ability. On the flipside, FIFA needs to start carding dives; of course a player is going to fall down when getting beat if the results will either be a) a call in his favor, or b) no call whatsoever. He has no reason not to fall and try to get a call. Perhaps games could be reviewed on tape, and cards handed out post-game to cut down on dives?

Larrionda called a decent game tonight; however, compared to the US-Italy game, it was a bit questionable. The 2-footed tackle on Figo was far more dangerous looking then Masteroni's, but somehow only warranted a yellow card? It would be nice if his calls were more consistent game-to-game.

Overall, I'm glad France made it through. If it were Italy-Portugal, I'm fairly certain we'd have 20 minutes of extra time with all the diving/rides on stretchers.
Posted: 3:11 AM   by Balbounouch
"Sagnol has been a revelation on the right"

well, not really a revelation. Who follows european football, that this guy has been elected several times as the best at his position in the bundesliga. A highly reliable guy, defending hard and clean, attacking cleverly with outstanding crossing ability. and a cool fighter: at the age of 19, he was already captain of his french league team. This means something about juvenile maturity.
Sadly, in international games, he spent most of his time on the bench because of the presence of Thuram and then Gallas at the right-back position. Now that both have settled as centre-back, he had his chance.
And he took it well. In my opinion, he's been the best right back of the tournament so far.
Posted: 3:17 AM   by Anonymous
What a disappointing match!
The only entertaining parts were the deep sea activities of both sides. Too bad Portugal wasn't able to make the 1-1 which would have opened the match again. So we saw Portugal fiercely fighting a great french defense without having any recipe. Hmm ... was the french offence still in the match during 2nd half ?
Posted: 3:38 AM   by Anonymous
I am so tired of all the English fans talking about diving. That is soccer. It is part of the game. You can not like that fact. However, it will remain a fact and a part. Rooney 100% deserved to be sent off. Now stop with the hating.

Portugal deserved to be in this game. I hate that the game was decided on a very weak penalty. Then again, you must be able to get the ball into the net if you want to be in the final of the World Cup. Portugal didn't get it done. There were many opportunities that they were never able to complete. Hats off to France for a well played and solid second half. They did what was needed to move on.

My thoughts on the final:
Italy 1
France 0
Posted: 3:43 AM   by Anonymous
I am elated that Portugal finally lost out. They play ugly soccer. Especially Ronaldo who has to be the prime diver in the game. He thoroughly deverses every boo he got during the game. One day he will mistime his dive, break a bone and end his career. Moreover, he is not a nice person. His behavior when Rooney was red carded tells it all. It will be a crying shame if Real Madrid signs him up. And it is almost certain Manchester United will be releasing him.
Posted: 3:55 AM   by Anonymous
This game was a dud compared to the other semi-final. The penalty was weak, really weak, Henry got tapped on the foot and went down disproportionately hard. After that the game lost all sense of tension. I was hoping Portugal would score just so we'd see a little more sense of urgency on the field. Zidane is awesome, but even he looked like he was going through the motions in the second half. Christiano Ronaldo was the best player for either team, but he was isolated on the field. A solo act. Portugal lost because Figo, Deco, and Pauleta were totally useless.
If France plays like this and Italy plays like they did vs. Germany, then the Italians will be champs.
Posted: 4:02 AM   by Anonymous
Every effort should be exerted to stamp out diving (and shirt-pulling) from the game. We do not need these dubious tactics to spoil our beautiful game. FIFA should have a technical committee to review every WC game for deliberate dives and intentional grabbing of shirts, with the authority to discipline players with suspensions and fines. With such rules in place, the notorious divers of the game - Ronaldo (of Brazil), Henry (France) and the Ronaldo from Portugal will think twice before attempting to influence the referee with these distasteful practice.
Posted: 4:02 AM   by Anonymous
Look, if you know football then you must understand that Italia has NOT given up a real goal in this WHOLE tournament, so don't compare the Azzuri defense to anyone else's. They are simply in a class by themselves in this regard. The midfield will be up for grabs come sunday, but don't count on Zidane (Legendary!) getting much room to do anything....Brazil were ghosts, and Portugal is NOT the Azzuri as a whole unit. Whoever is hungrier in the final will take it....and ITALIA hasn't had any pizza or pasta in a long while....just ask the Germans!!
Posted: 4:05 AM   by Anonymous
Im genuinly confused about this newfound hatred everyone has of the portuguese. We do dive, as does Italy, France, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain, pretty much all 32 countries.

Once again the english found a scapegoat for another of their exits, and have turned the world against portugal in disgracful fashion.

Noone mentioned our negative play before the Englnd game, and noone mentioned our apparent dirtyness before the Holland game.

Look closely, Holland set the tone for the game, im not excusing the outcome but we are not entirely to blame

Rooneys red was justified, it was clear Ronaldos apparent "card waving" which i never even saw didnt have an affect.

Like someone said before, our economy sucks, we have 10 million inhabitants and just reached our second ever world cup semi final on some merit. And probably deserved to go to the final.
Posted: 4:23 AM   by Anonymous
France deserved it. Henry was by far the best diver. I hope that with Italy the referee brings an umbrella... not to get wet!

For the Brits and French: its sad when only soccer can bring back the old world relevance...isn´t it?
Posted: 5:09 AM   by stouille
Do not judge Pauleta too quickly. As Parisian, I see him playing every week : he's a top-class striker. But with the selecçao, he receives very few balloons. The Portuguese midfielders are individualistic. That's too bad because Pedro Miguel Pauleta is one of the best striker of the world.
Posted: 5:13 AM   by Anonymous
The most peculiar aspect of France's success all these years is that it has been achieved with one of the most inconsistent and disaster-prone goalies in the world.

It's amazing how there have been many crucial games (like the last two against Portugal and Brazil) in which Barthez has been really tested on just one or two occasions and has botched even those challenges, only to be saved by the incompetence of opposing strikers in putting in the rebound.

If Italy (or any other team)go at Barthez for a full 90 minutes he is sure to crack on one or more occasions.
Posted: 5:39 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal was a real shame to football and all lovers of the gamme are happy to see it going back home with their drama queens.
The fake diving of C. Ronaldo has been outrageous and should be punished by FIFA with a ban of the player for a few games....it will then teach him the difference between playing and teaching.
Thanks god, the best team won and the French will win the world cup on sunday !!! A second star is beckoning to them !
Posted: 6:16 AM   by Anonymous
If the French were so good, why did they not score on their own bat? Yep only for that penalty!!!!!!!
Posted: 6:31 AM   by Anonymous
Just a question. How dare you callin Pauleta a joke, when he is Portugal national team top scorer of all time, has been french league top scorer 2 times, and got elected French league best player 2 times.
I agree he did not play well during this world cup, but what you got wrong is that he is strictly a striker. He does not take part to the team play much, but give him an acceptable ball in the box, and b sure he'll score. And as surprising as it can be, Portugal, with so many creative and talented players, didnt manage to offer him good opportunities.
Posted: 6:41 AM   by Anonymous
Some of you probably didn't watch
the replays with unbiased minds;
Ronaldo was pushed in the box!
True, he tried to make the most of
that push, as Henry did by purposly
tripping over Carvalho's foot, but
he was pushed. Also, I'm pretty sure
that for the exact same event in
the French box, the ref would not
have given the penalty kick. For
economical reasons, FIFA would much
rather have France in the final than
little Portugal. Open your eyes!
Posted: 7:07 AM   by Anonymous
Henry flopped to "earn" the penalty shot that Zidane put away to win the match. It was a typical soccer play--intended to deceive the referee into a bad call. And it worked! Too bad.

I will also say that I would have been hard-pressed to have called the offsides in the final seconds. Was Portugal offsides? Probably by about a foot or so. But it was way to close to call at that point--the beauty of that play was that Portugal would have tied it in the very final seconds, which is what the French deserved.

Call it "the beautiful game" all you want. It will always be known in the U.S. as "the boring game" until offsides is eliminated from the rules. Look at the numbers from the World Cup and it is clear that this is a game that simply is not exciting enough to hold the interest of Americans. Change the offsides rules, inserting strategy and speed and athleticism into the game, and it is a game that could be quite exciting. But alas, we will never know, as FIFA and other powers within the game cannot afford to change the game and let the Americans find it.
Posted: 7:41 AM   by Anonymous
The little winker did not manage to manipulate the ref this time.

I'm glad Portugal did not make it to the final.

But I do think that the performance of Portugal must have convinced Blatter to use instant replays. If they don't things may escalate even further.

All we are talking about now are the refs. I do not believe that this is in the best interest of the development of football as a sport
Posted: 7:48 AM   by Anonymous
Was I not watching the same game as everyone else? Most comments are regarding the Portuguese diving. The only goal in the game was due to the French diving. Portugal with no doubt outplayed France.

France might have won Portugal, but they did not beat Portugal!

With that said, I have no doubt in my mind that they will not be champions. Italy has the best defense in the world and the best goalie (Buffon).

Viva Italia and show those arrogant French the way home!
Posted: 7:50 AM   by Anonymous
Justice has been served, with the Portuguese diving team bowing out at the semis. They were lucky to get this far in the first. C. Ronaldo is an absolute disgrace with his antics and constant flopping around! Quit fooling around and focus on what you're really good at: making those long runs along the touch line and delivering a perfect pass or shot on goal. Best of luck to Zidane, who has again proven himself as one of the truly legendary players of the game, but the Italians will probably run away with the cup!
Posted: 7:53 AM   by Kevin
I will also say that I would have been hard-pressed to have called the offsides in the final seconds. Was Portugal offsides? Probably by about a foot or so. But it was way to close to call at that point--the beauty of that play was that Portugal would have tied it in the very final seconds, which is what the French deserved.

Yes, they were offisides and past time. The ref has to make the call regardless of the time. It certainly would have been a more exciting finish, but not a correct one.

And I am one American who finds this game very exciting, even a 1-0 win when the leading team goes negative (though I wish it wouldn't, I understand the thinking. France is lucky though that it didn't succumb the way Pekerman's side did.)
Posted: 8:04 AM   by Anonymous
Another American here.

Get rid of offsides? Why? I coached soccer for 12 years and never had a player who didn't understand that without it, the game became one of giant kicks followed by a strike.

We don't need the world to adjust to us. 300,000 million people watch the World Cup. 9 million people watch the Super Bowl. Would you take kindly to someone from another country suggesting that if only we'd change "this" about our football, the rest of the world would like it better?

Tough.
Posted: 8:05 AM   by Anonymous
oh please, its not up to the game of soccer to change, its up to the americans to change. every other country in the world follows soccer...why change the rules just to please one?

anyway, about the game, that was definitely a foul on Henry, regardless of whether or not he embellished it. the portuguese on the other hand dont embellish fouls, they just create them (or try to at least). it really seemed like france's strategy was to score a goal and do nothing for the rest of the match, and portugal's strategy was to get people inside the penalty box and have them fall, hoping that the ref would be fooled at least once.
Posted: 8:06 AM   by Anonymous
Change the offsides rule to appease American audiences?? How idiotic is that?!!

You're just repeating some comments from one of the ESPN radio talk show hosts this afternoon (was it Skip Bayless?). Whoever it was is just another moron asking the same old tired question - "why don't americans love soccer as much as the rest of the world"? Well I assure you, he doesn't speak for all Americans, and If he doesn't 'get it', how can he even call himself a 'sportscaster'. Sadly, those kinds of comments show him and others like him to simply be another loud-mouth --------.
Posted: 8:10 AM   by Anonymous
Hey Anonymous 7:07 AM, dare you say there are no bad calls in American sports? Rules are rules and that was clearly an offside, whether it was by a foot or just inches! Too close to call? Not to the referees and anybody knowledgeable of the game watching the match, including Portuguese fans! Talking about boring games, what about golf with players strolling in the park, baseball with players running around like headless chicken, hockey with players chasing an invisible object... I don't think the world cares whether or not soccer interests the American public. You know why TV rarely shows soccer matches? That's mainly because unlike any other sports there's no interruption until half-time for them to run ads! The lack of interest is exactly the reason why Americans has never won a World Cup. Continue to be this ignorant and narrow-minded and Americans will never do great in the most popular sport in the world.
Posted: 8:12 AM   by PORTUGAL FOR EVER
what everyone forgets is what used to happen to portugal before they took up diving (somthing that scolari has clearly taught them). Portugal used to play a beautiful flowing game that was imo even better than the brazillians, but they had no toughness or physicality and every team would jsut foul them untill they understandable lost hope. Scolari saw this and taught them to dive in order to try and get the ref's attention. Personally, being a big fan of portuguese football I think it is pathetic. The only thing more pathetic is the substitution of Pauleta, there are at least three portuguese chances after his substitution that he would score 100% of the time. Even during his presence the only ball he got on his foot in the 28 yard box he fought off thuram and got a cracking shot on net. The boy never has any support. Also zidane was very regular yesterday, he made as many mistakes as great plays. Ribery, Sangol, Viera, Makele, Thuram were all brilliant. Protugal deserved to lose due to their inability to finish. This has too many shades of Euro 2000...
Posted: 8:17 AM   by Anonymous
Call it "the beautiful game" all you want. It will always be known in the U.S. as "the boring game" until offsides is eliminated from the rules. Look at the numbers from the World Cup and it is clear that this is a game that simply is not exciting enough to hold the interest of Americans. Change the offsides rules, inserting strategy and speed and athleticism into the game, and it is a game that could be quite exciting.

LOL...I know let's change the format of the WORLD'S most popular game so that instead of a team winning 1-0 they can win 99-98.

To the rest of the world having to watch your Football games that last 3hrs and are constantly having to stop and start is what we call boring.
Posted: 8:18 AM   by Anonymous
Anonymous 6:16 AM, if the Portuguese were as good as you seemed to imply, why didn't they score at all!? I bet you wouldn't have said that if it was Portugal who won the match on a penalty kick!
Posted: 8:27 AM   by Anonymous
By the rules of the game, a penalty is awarded when the attacking player is "fouled" inside the 18-yard box (the penalty area). The referee's job is to enforce the rules of the game. Henry was clearly fouled - a "soft" foul or a "hard" foul is still a foul. He did not dive. Anyone who states that he should have tried not to fall down after he was tripped is being simply ridiculous.
Posted: 8:37 AM   by Anonymous
Anonymous 4:05 AM, being a poor European country does not entitle Portugal to go to the final. There are a lot poorer countries not only in Europe but also in the rest of the world, do they all deserve to play at the final as well? No teams are entitled to win for whatever reason, that's why they compete against each other. If they want to win, just play better! Do not be a sore loser, trying to find a reason why your team deserved to win!
Posted: 8:41 AM   by tomba
Bye Bye Portugal, au revoir!

So glad to see Portugal not making the final. The team has an awful reputation and yesterday it was clear to everyone why: they are actors who like to dive and cry. It is a shame because they have a number of real good players (Maniche, Miguel, Deco), but they pay far too much attention to theatrics.

I thought the referee was pretty OK. He should have sent Scolari off (should have happened earlier this WC). I wish Larrionda has been the referee during Portugal-Holland instead of Ivanov, probably nobody would have been sent off!

At least there is justice and apart from Portugese supporters I think we should all be glad to see Zidane in the final. He has been fantastic.
Posted: 8:43 AM   by Anonymous
To 7:07 am Anonymous:

"Insert strategy and speed and athleticism"? Have you ever seen a soccer game? Soccer players are probably the most physically gifted athletes in the world, and the sport is all about skill, speed, strategy and athleticism! In fact, if you look at all the commentaries on the US team and their early exit from the finals tournament, you will see that those are the things that were said to be missing from that squad, and largely responsible for their poor performance.

That was an ugly semifinal, but France got the job done, and Portugal failed to put what was certainly the best clear chance to fall to either team away.

Zidane is great, and deserves to be mentioned with Pele and Maradona. If he can inspire a French win on Sunday, then possibly he is a legitmate contender for the title of best player in the history of the game.
Posted: 8:44 AM   by Anonymous
Call it "the beautiful game" all you want. It will always be known in the U.S. as "the boring game" until offsides is eliminated from the rules.

What a very sad statement! I'm an American, and I love the game the way it is, and see no need to "Americanize" it. The only thing that needs to change is to harshly penalize diving (in the France-Portugal game, Henry was fouled, Ronaldo dived). It's only boring to many Americans (like the one who posted the above comment) because there aren't many "points" being scored.
I'm also a fan of baseball and American football, and I assure my fellow American friend that these games can be just as (if not more) boring, but I still enjoy watching them because that is the nature of those games. I enjoyed watching Barry Sanders, Brett Favre and others like them because of the skills that they demonstrated (their "beauty").
Until my fellow American friend and people like him change their attitudes and perceptions about what is "boring" and "exciting", they will NEVER appreciate the beauty (skills of the players) of soccer.
Posted: 9:04 AM   by Anonymous
Eliminate offsides from the rules is really a stupid idea. as stupid as takin Riquelme out when u r leadin 1-0.

And for those who say France refused to play in second half because they were leadin, you are wrong. They COULDNT play, they couldnt keep the ball, Portugal pressed them too much. And that worries me, because if they leave Italy the balls for one half, those will sure find a way to get a PK thanks to a nice diving by Totti. (yes, diving again, but can we talk about Italy without talkin about diving and cheating? We focused on Portugal, but Italians remain kings of cheaters, we just all got used to it.)
Posted: 9:12 AM   by Anonymous
Look at the numbers from the World Cup and it is clear that this is a game that simply is not exciting enough to hold the interest of Americans. Change the offsides rules, inserting strategy and speed and athleticism into the game, and it is a game that could be quite exciting.

This is obviously someone who does not understand the game. When I did not understand the rules and intent of the games of hockey, baseball and American football, those games were boring to me and I was unable to see any "strategy and speed and athleticism". I used to think that American football was a crude game only intended for Neanderthals with no skills or athleticism other than the ability to run into people.
Once I took the time to ask someone to explain those games to me, and I actually sat and watched a few games with the knowledge gained, the strategies and the skills and the athleticism became very apparent. I am now a huge American football fan (go Dolphins!).
For anyone to suggest some piddling change to a game just because they "don't get it" is to disrespect a game that has been enjoyed by millions for many years and that has been changed as needed by people who live, eat and breathe the sport. That is just plain arrogance and ignorance (a deadly combination).
Posted: 9:24 AM   by Anonymous
I never thought this would come up, but I wonder if it would have been possible to award the PK and give Henry a yellow for diving. Watching the replays, there is no question (to me) that Cavarhlo attempted to trip Henry (falling awkwardly while managing to keep his left leg straight and hooked around Henry's leg the whole time--come on), a direct free kick foul that merits a PK in the penalty area. That said, Henry appeared to go about a half step after getting kicked, realize where he was, then do a superman dive to the ground. I've seen Henry play quite a bit in Arsenal games, and there's no way that he was off balance when he took that first step after Cavarhlo hooked him. He's got much better balance than that, and he looked centered when he turned to goal.

So I would have awarded the PK and then given Henry the yellow for unsporting behavior trying to deceive the ref (comment 5 to Law 12). The deception lies in making it appear to have been actually tripped, when the real foul was the attempt to trip by Cavarhlo.
Posted: 9:24 AM   by Anonymous
The real shame was that Portugal wasted many opportunities with their flopping. A little b4 he was substituted Pauletta had a great opportunity on a ball sent through on the right side of the box by Figo. He got in front of the French defender and could have chosen to take the ball and try play football, instead, he slowed, backed into the defender and then on a slight touch, he fell as though shot in the back. Waste! I agree that Portugal were a more vibrant, attacking side but when it came to the moment of truth, they would have been much better served trying to stay on there feet and continue to pressure the ball and try to finish opportunities. Players like Ronaldo and Pauleta have too much talent to sell themselves short with those types of tactics.

And englishmen, get over it! Stop looking to blame others and find scapegoats. Rooney so deserved to be sent off - C.Ronaldo had no influence on that one. You need to take a hard look at your Golden Boy - he is a punk hothead - and unless he grows up England will never get anywhere with him in the line up.
Posted: 9:27 AM   by Anonymous
The ref wasnt excellent...Tru indeed the Portuguese were diving but i counted at least ten fouls he didnt call and he even chastised Zidane for diving (Zidane may be the only player never to dive in his career) Dont forget this is the ref who cheated the USA out of the Italy game....he never should have seen the pitch again after that debacle...the bottom line is that FIFA must implement a 2 referee system for the large tournaments
Posted: 9:39 AM   by Anonymous
English fans. GROW UP!!!! I'm a neutral fan and I can honestly say that all this diving top is getting out of control. England lost. At least Portugal's young prodigy didn't kick anyone in the "tomatoes".
Posted: 9:52 AM   by Anonymous
you know what I liked about the FRA-POR game? with 11 players with yellow cards, the players stayed on their feet, didn't dive in sliding all over the place and
the players got to play...2 yellows, both well
deserved...the 2nd might have gotten a red in another
game...while it may not have been the most beautiful
game, it wasn't the sliding tackle foul/stretcher fest we've seen in some matches. A writer once said the more the ball is in the air, the lower the quality of play...a variation might be the more players stay on their feet, the better the match.
Posted: 9:54 AM   by Anonymous
"Gimme a break. Anyone who says the Portuguese are classless and dive a lot has not been watching the World Cup. EVERY player on every team takes dives. Henry took one in the Spain game that led to a PK and no one complained about that. Also, Portugal clearly outplayed the French today and deserved to win. Downgrading the Portuguese -- as everyone seems to have done this tournament -- only displays the shortcomings of those bitter fans from other countries. So let's move on and watch as Henry tries to win another Academy Award against Italy in the final. Viva Italia!"

I share these sentiments exactly.

Suddenly, the Portuguese have become everyone's worst enemy--yet no one was talking about it before we beat Holland, England and outplayed France. But it's easy to pick on the little guy. It gives the fans of the bigger teams a false sense of superiority. Many people before the game were saying they wanted Portugal to lose because it wouldn't be as exciting a storyline as Zidane in the final for his last game.

You had to be blind to see that How many chances did the French have in the second half? The portuguese play ugly? France got the questionable penalty and played defense for 60 minutes. They simply didn't earn this win today.

Zidane's picture is plastered all over the world after yesterday's game--but he couldn't do a thing versus the Portuguese in the run of play.

Relish the cheap victory France, because it's your last of the tournament.

And Italy fans--don't be too cocky if you win by 3 goals--France plays bad against all the teams that have pressed them.
Posted: 9:56 AM   by Anonymous
Cheap victory for France.

Even the neutral Mr. Bechtel compared this game to the "chippy Euro 2000 semifinal that was decided by -- you guessed it -- a controversially awarded PK that Zidane converted"
Posted: 10:03 AM   by Anonymous
C'on EVERYBODY is diving, so get off Portugal's case. The most blatant dive out of 62 games was in the French win against Spain, as the replay clearly shows. France's wins against better teams like Spain and Portugal are totally unsatisfying and give soccer a black eye. As a matter of fact this World Cup has soured me on soccer. It was boring and many obviously better teams lost. It is past time to change the rules.
Posted: 10:05 AM   by Anonymous
how about a "man in the booth" referee to oversee the game from above? my thinking is that he wouldn't make direct calls but could give guidelines to the ref and his assistants on the field -- to watch for trends in the game, if a particular player is flopping, playing dirty, etc. all the refs are wired up now anyway.
Posted: 10:12 AM   by Anonymous
As allways a small country like Portugal was kept out of a big league. As hard as we try there's no way we can beat the sistem that wants the "more important" countries to go to the finals.

That was no penalty, but france had to pass, at any cost... so to me Portugal came out a winner.

Viva Portugal!!
Posted: 10:19 AM   by Anonymous
"The team has an awful reputation and yesterday it was clear to everyone why: they are actors who like to dive and cry. It is a shame because they have a number of real good players (Maniche, Miguel, Deco), but they pay far too much attention to theatrics."

Awful reputation??? - created by the tabloids in England and France!! - Why?? - because the english were beaten and the french decide to side with the former enemies because it was conviniente.

Dear blog colleagues, it is sad to see that no one can recognize that yesterday Portugal was the better team, and that Ronaldo (the diver as you call it) was even named by FIFA the man of the match!!!

Aren't you all sad that your opinions are simply being copied from factious tabloids and not from your own minds??
It is always difficult to have a decent opinion, isn't it????
Posted: 10:19 AM   by Anonymous
It just seems like the English cannot admit defeat so they have to cry foul, but I guess they forget how they were handed the 1966 trophy

Grow up

Portugal did well and played well and the French side did what it needed to do regardless of the ref. No one is perfect

give me a break about diving, they all do it and as one other said, and I guess Portugal was the dirty team in the Holland game, not!
Posted: 10:45 AM   by Anonymous
This morning I'm a proud Portuguese fan. Yesterdays game did not go as well as I'd have hoped but I'm proud of the fact they got this far. A team needs to get a few breaks to win at this level and the French cought the breaks yesterday. They're a class team and a worthy finalist.

I think with the extra days rest coupled with being a younger team Italy will win on Sunday. Either way congrats to both teams and their fans. Its been a fun tournament to watch and at least we do not have to put up with English hooligans for a couple of years. My only prediction for the Euros 2008 is that England will lose somewhere along the way and very few fans of theirs will acknowledge that the other team was simply better.
Posted: 11:00 AM   by Anonymous
The game was not called fair. Portugal had it’s chances but did not over come the fact that the man in the middle already had France winning this game at the local casino. Tell you the truth France should of not won that game. The Flop in the box by Henry gave them a PK but the push in the back to Ronaldo gave the Portuguese team no call. How can you ref a game if you already know the outcome? Portugal will be back and Man U will regret selling Ronaldo for Rooney’s mistake. And to finish my rant “WHERE IS USA?” That’s right play rec soccer that we call the MLS. What a joke!!! May be the US will win the cup in 3010.
Posted: 11:04 AM   by Anonymous
the ref was decent but missed the biggest call...Cavarhlo did not foul Henry (who ive lost all respect for)..im of French heritage but now im all for beating the French
Posted: 11:11 AM   by Mike
I've read a lot of very sad, ignorant comments and generalizations on this blog, but luckily also some intelligent rebuttals.
I'm thinking in particular about the "offsides and americanization" of the game comments. I was appauled that somebody can misunderstand the game so much (why even watch it then?). But it was refreshing to see other people, also from the US, completely disagree.

As for the diving, that is just generalization. They all try to win, Henry did not dive, he did not try to stay on his feet either but why would he. It's true that they all do it to an extent, we shouldn't point the finger to Portugal. But the penalty was deserved, and France did what they needed to win. Portugal pressed hard but France held on, without commiting fouls that would have kept them out of the finals (that was a concern also). You can't say that Portugal "deserved" to win. No one deserves anything, you have to earn it by SCORING. Everybody sees every play with their own eyes. But this game is great for it's low scoring, riveting intensity.

American football is great in different ways but you have to fully understand and appreciate the strategies before calling anything "boring". You cannot make comparaison that are pointless or try to turn a sport into another.
Posted: 11:19 AM   by Anonymous
I love how the Portuguese fans say it was cheap victory yesterday for the French. Not so.

First, the penalty kick was deserved (and perfectly executed).

Second, the refereeing was quite good and fair all game long.

Third, the French team decided to do only as much as was necessary to keep the advantage once they scored. So they focused on their excellent defense (except that I am worried about Barthez). That is the smart thing to do as they are about to have their hardest game against Italy on Sunday. Better keep their strength for that game. So do not blame the French for the Portuguese's inability to pass the French defense and score, please!!!

As for the stats in favor of the Portuguese, gimme a break! When was the last time ball possession meant anything at all? What matters is ball possession *in the opposite third of the field*, nothing else! They should record this stats (or even replace the old one with it).

All these comments are regardless of anyone's talent at diving. I kinda like the Portuguese coach as a character... kinda annoying when he overdoes it but fun to watch. Anyway, sorry Portuguese team. You have great individual players and play for a great people (many of whome live in France and are well respected as hard and honest workers) but as a team unit, France was better in this game. Oldies, but goldies.
Posted: 11:23 AM   by Anonymous
To Anonymous 7:07

Yeah, we erase the offsides then you can sent yout Terrell Owens as another whinner who can dive; and in defense you send the NFL linebackers just to break legs.

And we can ask the NFL to erase the downs in US football so that that sport won't be cut every 30 seconds for a huddle to bring more european attention.

The rules are what they are and make the sport as much as how players play. You would not say that critics if the US would not have been taught how far they are from being a real contender to any major title.

to speak of the semi : Don't start whinning about the PKs. Someone had to win and Portugal did not take out the best of its opportunities. You can't score, you can't win. Portugueses just can thank the lord for having a great goalkeeper : after 15 minutes in the second it could have been 3-0 instead of 1-0.

And yes I admit, Henry has a huge ego and was ashamed to see the offense just walking in the second. It was brazilean stuff ... hope it will be rectified for the final.
Posted: 11:23 AM   by Anonymous
I can't believe anyone actually thought that this was a good game. The most accurate comment I've read on this blog is this one: "That was an ugly semifinal, but France got the job done, and Portugal failed to put what was certainly the best clear chance to fall to either team away."

It's too bad that France decided to play the ol' 8-1-1 formation after halftime, but it worked because the Portuguese couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from the inside.

The game was crap, nothing but a series of poorly taken corners, bad touches, back passes, and cheap fouls. Portugal didn't really push people into the attack until the last couple of minutes, when desperation finally set in. When you have two teams playing scared and keeping 9 guys behind the ball at all times, this is what you get.... a cheap goal (although he was legitimately tripped) that makes the difference. You might as well flip a coin... it's just as exciting.

My hopes for an exciting final were dashed when Germany (the last team left who actually pushes people forward to attack) lost out to Italy. At least both teams were trying to score in that game. It's just that the German midfielders can't/won't shoot straight.

Italy wins the final 1-0 because their strikers at least get the ball on target some of the time.
Posted: 11:23 AM   by Mike
again, more posts coming from people saying that Portugal "deserved" to win, or that they were the "better" team, etc...

Cry me a river! If you deserved it so much you would have scored! You had the whole 2nd half to do so.

People who say the Portuguese are a bunch of divers are wrong, they needed a lot of talent to make it this far. But people who say the ref wanted France to win are equally ignorant.
Posted: 11:25 AM   by Anonymous
For all the so called "bad blood" and "no love lost here" analysis and trash talking. Did you see at the end of the game Zidane hugging Figo and exchanging jerseys and Zidane wearing it (a bit disgusting admittedly) but what an honorable and gallant competitor Zidane. Some on this forum should learn some class from him both on the field and before and after the match.

Portugal played a great game, very fluid, creating some nice opportunities. I think they played honorably and very well indeed.

The French looked a bit hesitant but so many of their top players had yellow cards going in. They played enough to win, not to impress fans or live up to some fan created fantasy of how they should play. They got the job done, period.

Allez les Blues in the Finals, nothing to hold back anymore.
Posted: 11:39 AM   by Anonymous
France should not have won because their only goal was a penalty??? Ah, but you can believe that if there had been no penalty, the rest of the game would have been quite different, and much more exciting. It is of course anyone's guess but my belief is that France would have scored properly anyway and won. But they just did enough to carry them over to the final, which was exactly what was asked of them. The final will be a wonderful game where both sides will give it their best. It was Portugal's role to break through France's defense and change the course of the game. They were unable to do that so quit whining and coming up with excuses. That is what bothers me with a Cristiano Ronaldo. He always has excuses for his lack of performance.
Posted: 11:45 AM   by toguopp
Surprised people haven't given more credit to Henry for making some great fake moves that led to the defender tripping him. A well-deserved penalty kick. Make that an assist from Henry to Zidane.

Also, if you look at the replay, the defender's foot clearly *strikes* at Henry's foot, while Henry clearly is intent on going for the ball, but he can't get his right foot to land in a balanced way on the ground, because it has been hit by the defender's foot.


Diving in general in football: always going to be hard because the referee has to assess what kind of fall is logically plausible from a given body contact. The only possible "answer" is to prevent such behavior by giving an automatic red card if you're caught. I think players would be scared as hell to fake a fall if that meant that they would be thrown out of the match.

I think a main problem with soccer is that there's nothing preventing 11 men to stay on defense. I don't understand why peopel laud teams for having great defense when they just put practically their whole team on their defensive half. I have a bad feeling the final will be scoreless...
Posted: 11:47 AM   by Anonymous
Most of us know for a fact that the ref made a bad call which resulted the french to a penalty kick. Look at the replay, it was clearly a fake and some of you have the nerve to critize Portugal's diving??? What do you call that? There is no question that the South American referees are by far the worse! Portugal played better than France, period.
Posted: 11:54 AM   by Anonymous
Portugal missed their best chance of winning the World Cup this year. They had their best team ever. France played decently, but was outplayed by Portugal the entire second half. The referee was on France side for sure, after watching the replay, I wouldn't have awarded a PK for Thierry's dive. Too bad Portugal missed many chances to score at the end.

France was not very convincing, and will have to be better than that to beat Italy (unless the referee is on France's side again).
Posted: 12:08 PM   by Anonymous
I am so disgusted by these comments! How can you not have seen Cristiano Ronaldo being shoved in the box? It WAS NOT a dive, it was a deliberate push!

Portugal played a much better game, has much more talent than France can ever dream of having.
Posted: 12:13 PM   by Anonymous
To 11:00 AM Anonymous

The MLS may be an inferior league to the major leagues of Europe(eng,ita,spain and germany) but it is easily equal to other international leagues.....furthermore if your a portuguese fan the USA should be the last team you insult....we spanked your behinds 3-0 the last WC and you all had a better team than in 06....the USA was in the toughest group by far and had legitimate beefs with the officiating of both the Italy and GHana matches
Posted: 12:16 PM   by Anonymous
Ronaldo got a tiny shove and flew through the air. I can't believe the don't have instant replay. there is so much stoppage time for fake injuries, out of bounds balls, etc, that adding a 1 min instant replay would not slow the game down much and mostly elimanate all the cries of injustice in these games. without it too many games are decided by guys with bad angles, etc.
Posted: 12:17 PM   by Anonymous
"That is just plain arrogance and ignorance (a deadly combination)."

This kind of comment makes me laugh. Soccer is a GAME like any other sport--baseball, American football, hockey, basketball. They all have supporters and detractors.

The statement above may be true for a president invading Iraq, but not for sports!
Posted: 12:27 PM   by Anonymous
Dear anonymous, 10:19 AM
FYI, Thuram was "the man of the match" according to the FIFA website.
I guess French and English tabloids made Ronaldo "the man".:)
On the funny side, some guys had time to create a website called:
www.ihateronaldo.com
The site already crashed due to a high number of hits... or dives. Lots of pictures and videos of Ronaldo now famous dives.
Posted: 12:36 PM   by Anonymous
The French did not impress against Portugal as they did against Brazil. They needed a sympathetic referee to help them out.

Anyone (accept the ref of course) could see the split second pause between the time Carvalho's leg touched the sock on Henry's calf, and when Henry's reaction changed from, "Where's the ball going?" to "Oh wait a second, I could do some acting and make this a penalty."

Admittedly Henry timed his acting well. And kudos to France, they never gave Portugal as good an opportunity to act out a penalty.

Larrionda is undoubtedly one of the worse refs in the World Cup -- especially after his red card orgy fest against the United States. It appears that aside from the U.S., he also has something to dislike against Portugal (albeit not as much), proven by decision to enjoy Henry's acting over Ronaldo's.

So it appears, the French will beat Italy only if the referee is their friend again, and they find opportune times to act as Henry did.

But that's pretty much how the entire game of soccer goes. Who has the better actors, and which team does the ref like?
Posted: 12:41 PM   by Anonymous
The best team won. Portugal played well but didn't score and that's it. When a team is not capable of killing the match it means that they don't deserve to be in the final. France has a very strong defence and I'm sure we are going to beat the italians, as always.

Vive la France et allez les bleus.
Posted: 1:09 PM   by Anonymous
And someone wrote, "And to finish my rant “WHERE IS USA?” That’s right play rec soccer that we call the MLS. What a joke!!! May be the US will win the cup in 3010."

Perhaps, but they beat Portugal in 2002.
Posted: 1:11 PM   by Anonymous
Forget diving for a second. The reason that Portugal hasn't gained any respect by anyone other than their fans has also to do with their constant whining (both on the field and from the bench) and the fact that after every single play, there is a portugese player standing around with his hands in the air looking for a call. That's what really bugged me about them...they're more interested in hearing the whistle than making the play.
Posted: 1:44 PM   by Anonymous
Anyone with an objective perspective could see that the PK was the correct one and that the non-call on Ronaldo was also correct. All of the diving has really gotten out of hand, particulalry with FIFA making it a point of emphasis for the referees. How is it that we can see the dives on TV from thousands of miles away but the ref can't see it being only a couple of feet away? I thnk the most galling part is how Portugal and,even more so Italy, use fake injuries to stop the game when the opposing team has the ball in their half. Their opponents start building an attack and they go doen like they were shot. The other team, being good sports, puts the ball out of bounds, the "injured" player amazingly recovers, and the ball is sent all the way back so that the other team has to sart all over. Italy did this at least 5 times vs. the US and continued it against Germany. I'm just happy that we don't have a Portugal - Italy final. Talk about a dive-fest!

And please don't suggest changing the game for the US fans. As an American who has watched soccer for over 30 years, I am convinced that Americans are just not smart enough to appreciate the beautiful game. After all, look who we elected president - twice!
Posted: 1:53 PM   by Anonymous
Against Australia, the Italian tripped over a stationary obstacle.

Yesterday, Henry was actively kicked in the foot late by a player who missed his tackle.

Comparing the two is ridiculous, despite Henry making a meal of it.

I imagine Scolari instructed his players to go down easier than usual to try and earn a make up call, which is unfortunate because even though the Portuguese are nowhere near as bad as the Italians, they're branded the ultimate divers likely because of their coach's instruction.
Posted: 1:56 PM   by Anonymous
Small teams play like small teams: cowardly... Thats what France did, thats why Italy is big and France still a small team.
Posted: 2:20 PM   by formosa
Portugal will learn its lesson again when its diving team gets whipped by Germany in 3rd place match.
Posted: 2:28 PM   by Anonymous
To all biased fans and French-haters (who doesn't know much about football) who claim the PK was dubious, SCOLARY (portuguese coach) himself declared to the media that the PB was unquestionable !
But you don't think so...
You must have your own good reasons...
Posted: 2:42 PM   by Anonymous
As a portuguese, I obviously wanted my country to win. But honestly I don't think we deserved a victory over France.

The french side played defensively, wich is very bad for the show, but truth is they created a trap where we inocentely fell [it reminded me of the Euro 2004 final against Greece]. Ugly football, no doubts about it, but efficient, anyway.

We can say the referee favoured France, didn't score a penalty for Portugal, the french players dove much more than the portuguese. Does it really matter? They played cleverly and we weren't intelligent enough to break the pressure. That's also the reason why we beat England and Holland. We played better than them.

About the dives, I really must say that's a non-question. Yesterday it was mostly the french who dove. In the quarter-finals, we didn't dive that much [although it's true we used that ugly tactics agains't Netherlands. And guess what, it worked].

I think these comments on portuguese diving show how really fanatic english fans can be. For example, last night I was a group of french fans being congratulated by every Portugal fan that passed by, in the center of Lisbon nightlife neighbourhood, Bairro Alto. In the UK, more than 100 portuguese were beaten or arrassed by english fans after the match. Shame on you!
Posted: 2:44 PM   by Anonymous
Those Portuguese and anti-French fans mad at the outcome just cannot accept that soccer is a sport where playing as a team and using your brain are essential to winning the game. France showed that it did more of both. So go home, learn your lesson, stop blaming everybody else for your losses, and we will see you again in 2010. Frankly, even as a frenchman, I will be delighted to see any team, including Portugal, win the WC if that team deserves to win it. But Portugal just did not this year. As for the French, they overcame their slow start and played with the right attitude all along (OK, Henry made maybe one over the top dive in the whole WC, only once; but look at Zidane!!!).

France-Italy is gonna be fantastic, as both teams will be eager to win and will put their all into the game. I had wished it would be France-Germany (or maybe France-England, both for a second WC) but the Italians will do and they want their revenge so it's gonna make things interesting. Both teams are great with strong defenses, except that their goalkeeper is better. But we have Zidane, Thuram, and the whole crew. It will be really tough but we can do it. Go France!
Posted: 3:04 PM   by Anonymous
most of the comments here were obviously made with the heart and not the head, being objective is an art that not many people here have mastered !!

was henry fouled....absolutely, did he sell it?......absolutely, but it was a penalty kick nonetheless, on the other hand, was ronaldo fouled....no, he had a fair challenge and was pushed or bumped ever so slightly, defiantely NOT a penalty.

the worst and weirdest thing about this semi final....portugal (whom i little respect for for all the whining) was actually the beter team and if they had kept on playing soccer instead of aiting for a whistle after every single call, they probably would have been preparing for a final match against italy instead of having their fans come here and lambast the ref, henry and anything they can bring for their teams loss when they really had only themsleves to blame.....

think on that boys and girls !!
Posted: 3:06 PM   by Anonymous
The PK call against Portugal was the right call -- whether or not Henry exaggerated it's effects.

Look at the replays again on the other side of the field, and you'll clearly see that Ronaldo "dove" before he was even touched by Sagnol; he made a half-hearted attempt to go for the ball, but didn't come near it. Yes, Sagnol pushed him, but it happened after it was clear Ronaldo had no play on the ball. Again, it was the right call, as every impartial analyst has noted
Posted: 3:24 PM   by Anonymous
Maybe a few people should review some of international players' biography before they talk about diving:
Klinsmann, Germany's coach was famous in the Inter-Milan team for diving; Germany won a WC against Argentina with Voeller's beautiful dive; Owen is famous for great dives... All the teams in the WC currently have at least a few good divers. I say that some people who saw their team lose in this WC should stop being pour losers!
Posted: 3:48 PM   by Anonymous
About the semi-final Portugal vs France: No doubts that Portugal played better than France (any impartial expert can confirm it). I am surprised with all the hate against Portugal (small country with a big team that makes many countries tremble, I guess). Portugal won all the games by scoring fair goals (diving never helped them win a game), contrarily to France who seems only to be able to win from Portugal by faking penalties with the help of corrupt referees. Finally, wake up people! Thierry Henry is a much better diver than Cristiano Ronaldo don't u think?
Posted: 4:14 PM   by Anonymous
I agree with the majority on this board. I came in to watch the game as an impartial fan (with a slight soft spot for Zidane), and came away with 2 conclusions. One is that France played like absolute crap the second 45. And two that the Portuguese did not deserve to win. There was at least a half dozen blatant, obvious dives, 2 by Ronaldo. That kid is insanely talented (no one could take him off the ball all night) but I cannot like him because he did not play like a man. Portugal lost, and dishonorably. I usually cheer for the underdog, but I hope Germany crushes them on Saturday.
Posted: 4:39 PM   by Anonymous
Henry dove, period. You may think it was the right thing to do, something a smart striker will do at the right moment, but it's a dive regardless. And for all the whining about Ronaldo, what of his "dives" resulted in a game-winning PK? And yet, that happened with Italy, with France, and with Ghana. Interesting there's no similar outrage.
Posted: 4:50 PM   by g_taglia
Yes France have been playing above expectations. It would a memorable finish for Zidane to retire as a champion. But if the Italian defense and Buffon continue to shut the opposition the way they're doing so, they haven't got a chance. Forza Italia!!
Posted: 5:21 PM   by Anonymous
at least klinsi had style when he dove. app he once showed up to a press confrence wearing a snorkel and fins...
but ronaldo's diving is just too fake. i'm a relative soccer newbie, and even i can tell. he looks like a diva when he dives.
Posted: 6:20 PM   by Anonymous
Past examples of diving do not make the current culture of diving right. Henry did not "dive", he was in fact tripped. C Ronaldo should join a swim team, he dives so much. That said, I'm especially glad Portugal lost, because a match between Italy and Portugal, well, I don't think there would be more than 7 or 8 players standing at one time, there would be so much diving going on. Here's to post game video review of diving.
Posted: 6:50 PM   by Anonymous
French and portugese can be proud of their team.
They well played during this tournament (even if it was not the same day).
Scolari, with 1 WC title & leading Portugal in semi is a great coach.

Portugal lost because they didn't had a good forward.
French won because they were lucky (even if, from my point of view, there was a PK).

C. Ronaldo is a little bit young because he doesn't need talking to ref' or diving: he is a very good player and if he could take the "zidane attitude", he would be acclaimed all over the world.

I hope france & Italy will fight to win the cup and not try to not lose it, Zidane deserves a beautiful last game...
Posted: 7:48 PM   by Anonymous
Isn't it funny how Portugese apologists keep claiming Henry dived and didn't desrve a penalty DESPITE THE FACT THAT BOTH PROTUGAL'S COACH AND CARAVHOLO, the guy who fouled Henry, both ADMITTED HE HAD BEEN FOULED AND DESERVED A PENALTY?

You can claim a conspiracy between refs or magic aliens zapping Henry's leg, but even the people involved don't dispute it was a penalty.
Posted: 8:57 PM   by Anonymous
Here is a good video (if I can't link, here is a good video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QSHB-AQZ1E&search=Ronaldo%20dive )

of Portugal diving against France. I don't dispute that Rooney deserved a red card or that England has been silly in its anger towards Ronaldo... however, this video evidence makes it blatantly clear that Portugal was diving left and right.

Take a look at Ronaldo's superman move, he trajectory was towads the ground from the second he jumped, well before Sagnol came close to him.

Then look at the two portugese players fall like rocks at 45 seconds in, with no one even touch them.

Shameful.
Posted: 9:45 PM   by Anonymous
The thing I dont really get is why is it that Portugal lost to France? They went that far and they just killed it. I dont get why they played so bad. France is not my favourite team but I have to say they played fair and square. And just because Portugal lost its all like "its not fair they cheated blah blah blah.

Football is a game and every four years we have a world cup thing. You loose you get another chance the next four years. But the thing is why bother rooting for any team if they lose? WHy did Portugal lose?

I cant really make out what is really going on but I think that its still very confusing about this whole C.Ronaldo thing and whatever.
Posted: 10:26 PM   by Anonymous
Ok, first: Mr-American-sports-fan
Just a question: Why do you think we care if the Americans are interested? And you obviously haven’t moved very far from that couch of yours where you watch some very long, boring baseball games or you wouldn’t question the fitness of football players… Anyway, if it’s so boring why do you watch it? We sure couldn’t care less if you are entertained or not!
Second: The Portuguese have abused it, cry wolf every match, the referee has to be skeptical and if it was not a foul this time (personally I thought it was, but who cares..), well yeah, their reputation probably helped the ref make his decision…
Third: C. Ronaldo is extremely talented, young and arrogant too, but talented players usually are, (except for Zizou and Figo), so let’s hope for the Portuguese team that he matures quickly.
Fourth: “Cowards”… The French team… because they didn’t entertain you enough in the second half… What’s the point of the semi final again, Oh yes… that’s right… get your team a chance to get to the final and become world champion… So if you get the lead and keep it, what does that make you? Smart, that’s right… smart and cautious.
Posted: 11:33 PM   by Anonymous
Wow........I can't believe what I am reading here. No one watches football games before the the world cup ,but than all of a sudden everyone knows everything about every player. Bottom line all teams played well or as well as they could. Every player has his little tricks in his socks. Further more there was some great talented players in all teams. The French won great but were they the better team? I say they both played ok one just got lucky. Yes Ronaldo can get cocky but he is young and if he has a good head on his shoulders he can be great! Zidane well he is just Zidane one of the best! I wish Italy and France luck and also Portugal and Germany who will be playing for third place. Great games boys ......thank you FIFA and we'll see you all in 4 years.
Posted: 7:08 AM   by Anonymous
Just to corroborate what anonymous of 6.41am wrote ...many people have come to the same conclusion that for economic reasons "little nations" yet with excellent teams are pushed out of the WC by hook or by crook, just like Ghana was this time round ... so that the so-called "big countries" will make it to the finals. People should just open their eyes 'cos for heavens sake it's not only eu nations who are good at kicking the round ball!!! This is most distasteful, and FIFA just watches all these gimmicks going on for obvious reasons. Who runs the FIFA?
Posted: 10:55 AM   by tomba
It seems that many people here are OK with diving, and regard it as part of the game.

I guess I am not OK with it. It doesn't matter if a Portugese, German, Italian, French, English or Dutch player dives: I hate it and I want the FIFA and UEFA to undertake some action against it, because it is killing our sport!
Posted: 12:03 PM   by Anonymous
This game hurt...I am a biased Portuguese fan (my wife's cousin Pauleta was invisible, again), but time has scabbed the wounds of the semifinal. The ref called a good game...period.

I'm tired of hearing the mindless, myopic criticisms from some quarters (mostly english fans) over the villainous diving Portuguese...really, Alan Shearer, of all people railing about diving? Hypocrisy's height...

GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT and look at the recently published data by IBI (a British firm) that rates the Italians, French, Paraguayans and others as bigger "cheats" in this tourney...

And while you're at it, stop talking about the "class" of France...PLEASE...they scored a PK and went into a defensive shell for two-thirds of the game...
for all intents and purposes, they are the Greece of this tournament...
Posted: 1:57 PM   by Grey Ghost
check out the winner based on fan website traffic - found this link earlier -

http://blog.compete.com/index.php/2006/07/07/france-italy-fan-support-soccer-word-cup-2006/

Online Fan Support - France vs Italy
Posted by DK on July 7th, 2006 at 5:00 am



This Sunday, July 9th, France and Italy, two previous winners with plenty of history between them, will meet in what will surely be an epic battle for the 2006 World Cup. But before we end our discussion on the World Cup, we wanted to know who has won the battle for online fan support, France or Italy?

One would think that the Italian Azzuri, who have a rabid national fan base and are considered one of the best teams in the world would clearly dominate, but actually, our data is showing the French language section at fifaworldcup.yahoo.com is getting nearly 45% more traffic then the Italian section! Is this any indication of who will win on Sunday? Let’s hope for a great game and when you see an Italian player take a dive, remember…they practice!
Posted: 1:59 PM   by Anonymous
yes 12:03 anonymous, they 'may' be the greece of this tournament, but guess what what ? they would be champions too, and i am willing to bet there are 30 other countries right now that would love to be the greece of this WC !!

i am however not a biased bystander but i too have to echo alot of the comments made here, the portugese team are nasty divers as are the italians in my opinion, the worst part is.....why ???

when the portugese were actually playing ball, they were a delight to behold but my god, once they felt contact, that was it, down they went, what a sham and a shame too, they 'could' have been in the finals if not for their incessant whining and crying for phantom fouls and pleas to the refs for supposed fouls, bah, i'm glad they are going home.

start focussing on the game and not the ref, and guess what, you will probably be back due to the TALENT you have, not the flopping and diving, and no, the portugese were not the only team to do it but to me it seemed like they were the worst offenders.

my 2 cents, let the flames commence, hehe.
Posted: 3:00 PM   by Anonymous
when the portugese were actually playing ball, they were a delight to behold but my god, once they felt contact, that was it, down they went, what a sham and a shame too, they 'could' have been in the finals if not for their incessant whining and crying for phantom fouls and pleas to the refs for supposed fouls, bah, i'm glad they are going home.

Exactly. Portugal has noone to blame but themselves for two main reasons:

1) They cried wolf so many times that any decent ref isn't going to give them the benefit of the doubt anymore (and video replays show they were merely crying wolf again and again in the fracne game)

and
2) MORE importantly, they sabatoged their own efforts with dives.

THeir attacks were toothless, but they didn't have to be. They had several attempts that could have scored, but instead they decided to just go for the flop hoping for a penalty. No team deserves to win by playing to get a penalty (note: Henry clearly didn't play to get a penalty until he actually go fouled, Portugal players kept making the decesion to try for a penalty before even going into the box) and they sabatoged their own offensive efforts that way.
Posted: 10:45 PM   by scerplyer35
Ribery??? He only goes one speed! He wears himself down and can't go the whole 90 minutes. Maybe next time...when he learns to switch gears. He is exciting to watch though.
Posted: 12:31 AM   by Anonymous
Oh I forgot. Greece is the current European champs. Did not qualify. Soccer in Europe is of great quality!

jokers....
Posted: 12:35 AM   by EJ
Portugal's play was a disgrace to the game, and ultimately to themselves. They have a very good team, and yet they abandoned their talent very early, and attempted to bluff their way into the final by deceitful acting. It was truly shameful. No wonder the Americans don't compete well - they have neither the ball control skills to score, nor the lack of self-respect needed to take dives.
Posted: 8:52 PM   by Anonymous
Please, "got it right?!?!?!" what a joke. on a 60 inch hi-def display it is beyond obvious that henry took a well timed dive after seeing ricardo's ill-advised leg sweeping just underneath him. Lets not confuse well timed dives with getting taken down, two different entirely things. Within the rules Henry had a right to act tripped and the ref had a right to make the call but lets not make this a clear/perfect call when my eyes and Tivo say otherwise. I'll give france this, it was a better call than the 2000 semifinal penalty call which also cost Portugal the game.
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