Fifa World Cup 2006 Blog. Reviews, previews and analysis of games. Sharing the passion with you.

Monday, July 10, 2006

ITTTTTTTTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, horrors of USA 94 have been buried in style. How ironic they lost in 94 on penalties and they won it here on penalties.

Penalty Shootout Dejavu

Its USA 94 dejavu for Italy , penalty shootout again. Italians must be thinking why why oh why.

Drama in Berlin

Zinedine Zidane has been sent off, he was shown headbutting Marco Materazzi in a very aggressive manner and has been rightly senf off. We are heading for the penalty shoot out, horrors of 94 return. Unless one team can score a dramatic goal.

Extra time in Berlin

So its extra time in Berlin, will the penalties decide the fate again or will again someone be the late hero?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Explosive Start

And an explosive start to the final, just what we wanted. France going ahead in just seven minutes with a controversial penalty cheekily taken by Zidane. But it was Marco Materazzi who conceded the penalty equalized for the Italians with a thunderous header. Luca Toni came close to give Italians the lead when his header hit the cross bar. Both teams are playing a very flowing football with Italians slightly on top but there is hardly anything between them.

PS: Its half time in Berlin

Farewell!

And so this is it. The last, final, the most anticipated, and of coarse the very best of all the matches in this World Cup; the World Cup final between the dignified Italy v. the eloquent France. Due to some reasons out of my control, I will not be able to write a proper review for this match. But I will write a few words about it.

First off, my favourite team is probably Italy. If I have ever sided with France, it’s because of Zinedine Zidane. That player was a beauty to watch; like a super powered alien from mars showing the humans how to play good football. But my prediction goes with where my favour lies. I reckon and I want Italy to win. But I wouldn’t kill myself if they lost to a team like France.
This World Cup has been monumentally spectacular. Germany has been a great host. Teams played great. Players were great. Goals were great. Everything just bode well together.
There were also some emotional farewells; From the great Zinedine Zidane, to the amphibious Luis Figo, from the pride of Juventus, Pavel Nedved, to the pride of Bayern Munich, Oliver Kahn. It has all be excruciatingly painful yet equally mesmerizing.

I’m sure there is a lot to say about this World Cup; so much in fact that if I start now I would probably end writing when the next World Cup is about to begin. But unfortunately, time is my enemy. I must bid you all a very sad yet hopeful good bye. I will see you all, maybe, around the time of Euro 2008.

Bonoz… signing off.

Grand Finale

So here it is, the day we have been all waiting for The Grand Finale. Everything comes down to this, all the preparations, strategies, trainings, sweat, exhaustion, blood and prayers. For one nation it is a chance after twelve years and for another it has been a wait of eight. Though Italy failed to win any tournament in between, France did manage and guess what it was against the Italians.

Azzurri will be looking to avenge two defeats one in France 98 at Quarterfinals and one in Euro 2000 final. But if we look closely to this world cup, hardly any team was able to change the tide. The teams which have been dominant on their oppositions previously have continued the trend. France against Brazil, France against Portugal, again France against Spain, Italy against Germany, Germany against Argentina and Portugal vs. England all these duels show that the dominant sides came out victorious. So based on this, things don’t look good for the Italians, though they look a stronger side but then France has been nullifying all the stronger sides, most notably Brazil.

But past records do not help much in final, it will be battle of nerves, battle of will, battle of skills. Both sides have rock solid defense, some hard fighting and creative midfields with instinctive attack. Either it will be one hell of a match or one sleeping pill.

One thing for Italians so far they haven’t found anyone who is the clear cut scorer for them eleven goals by ten different players which equals the record, ironically of France.

Sad thing Nesta will miss it again, he has this misfortune of missing out on world cup matches with injuries and in all previous occasions Italians have lost that match.

Ok little about last match, Germany for me deservedly won the bronze medal. And there were some very emotional scenes after the match like Figo embracing Kahn, Klinsmann and Felipe hugging and sharing a joke or two. Kahn and Figo saluting the crowd. Great to see both team players congratulating each other.

A sad farewell!

And so this is it. Farewell to the host-nation Germany, as they leave their superb impression; securing a very respectable 3rd-place position in this unforgettable World Cup. Winning a match that they totally deserved to win; with style, poise, and sentiment. From Oliver “King” Kahn to Oliver Neuville; each and every player showed their utter best today. And Jurgen Klinsmann reminds us once again what a great coach he is. Even Luis Figo in the end, came up to the great Oliver Kahn and congratulated him.

The earlier parts of the game, mainly the entirety of the first half, seemed a bit dead and unmotivated, especially for Portugal. But as second half rolled by, the brave midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger scored a supreme first goal for the German side, bringing life and emotion into the match. And soon after, another goal for Germany but this time an own-goal by Petit. It was soon followed by another spectacular finish by the enthusiastic Schweinsteiger. Germany had gained momentum by now; and King Kahn thought he could finish his last match with a clean sheet but then a beautiful cross by Luis Figo and a pointed header by Nuno Gomes into the goal kept the clean sheet thought a dream.

This game is a perfect exemplification of phenomenal football. It had two very great teams who played quite well; and Germany managed to provide audience with beautifully materialized goals. Germany did well to take great advantage of this 3rd-place match to nod off their defeat in the semi-finals against the Italians; they deserved to win this, and they owed their victory to their miraculous fans who have done their part to render Germany as a perfect World Cup host.

Jurgen Klinsmann played a perfect of role as the coach of the winning side coming up with an awesome starting line-up, and later on with very considerate substitutions giving other players a chance in this World Cup.

The match was home to a lot of emotion, sentiment, tears, sorrow, and farewell, as two of the greatest football players in the World played their part on the pitch possibly for the last time, and said their goodbyes to us, their teammates, and to each other. Will they retire for sure? Chances are they might, but Luis Figo might must stay until Euro 08. It was refreshing to see Sir Oliver “King” Kahn on the field defending the German throne. He certainly proved he still has the ability to defend his country’s goal; he still has that German strength, the German power in him.

Therefore, with the conclusion of this 3rd-place match after which Germany proved to be the best candidate for the 3rd-place, another chapter of this prestigious World Cup comes to a sad yet long lasting end. Now, as we progress towards the absolute Final of this World Cup, all eyes focus on the Italians and the French as they prepare to face each other in the heavily anticipated match tomorrow. Hats off to Luis Figo. Hats off and Lots and lots of respect, honour, and applause for the great King Kahn.

Schweinsteigeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Every shot he is hitting is turning into gold, first a thunderous drive saw Germany took the lead beating Ricardo who looked unbeatable before this incident. Then his free kick was driven inside by Petit for own goal and ohhhhhhhhh just now he scores a very identical to his first one which thudded into the net. Three nil Germany and its Schweinsteiger Night. What a game he was having.

But not to forget efforts of Oliver Kahn, the old man is having match of his life and proving his worth. Ohh he is just beaten by Nuno Gomes who dived onto the perfect cross from Luis Figo. Its 3-1 for Germany.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Predictions; Germany v. Portugal

So here we are nearing the final countdown of this World Cup as we take a look at the 3rd-place match between the host-nation Germany and the Euro 2004 host-nation Portugal. For Jurgen Klinsmann, this is an opportunity of redemption for his last match against Italy. Even though Germany did reach the finals of the 2002 World Cup, and even though they are the host-nation; they weren’t expected to reach the finals and one might say they did live up to their expectations. This 3rd-place match is a perfect opportunity for them to throw a one last sparkle for the fabulous German fans. Portugal, however, are looking to perform the best they can as they have never been past the 3rd-place position.

Germany has been a splendid host to this very spectacular World Cup; and the same can be said about their national team. It has plenty of great young players, they have great form, and they are being coached by one of the best German players ever. They will certainly be the favourites tonight; not only because they are the host-nation, but also because they played exceptionally all throughout and in the final stages of this World Cup, creating fans with every goal they score and every match they play. They certainly did their best in their match against Italy; which probably constitutes to being one of the best matches so far this World Cup.

Portugal, conversely, have failed to impress their fans and live up to their expectations. Being runners-up in the Euro 2004 you would expect them to perform well. First off, Portugal, a very well fortified team defensively and offensively, failed to take advantage of 10-men England with the absence of their super striker Wayne Rooney. Then, playing against France, they had, on their side back from suspension, players like Deco and Costinho; they were expected to make a difference but ended up playing miserably. They were also being coached by the fabulous Luiz Felipe Scolari, and a keen eye could point out the added difference. Another flaw on the Portuguese side is their team spirit. They play their games in possibly the worst spirit; committing to many arguments and situations of unnecessary physical outbreak.

On the German side, the probable line up remains quite the same with defense in the hands of Marcell Jansen, Christoph Metzelder, Robert Huth, Philipp Lahm; midfield in the hands of Bernd Schneider, Sebastian Kehl, Tim Borowski, Torsten Frings; and attack in the hands of the usual Lukas Podolski, and Miroslav Klose. However, there is one surprising and astounding twist. The 37-year old Oliver Kahn otherwise known as King Kahn, the great and the legendary German Goalkeeper who has given new meaning and respect to the position of Goalkeeping, has been allowed by the Germans to play one last World Cup game in his homeland before he retires. In my opinion, this was a nice gesture by Jens Lehmann and Jurgen Klinsmann to give the King one last farewell match so that he can close the curtain on his astonishing football career.

The probable Portuguese line-up will be similar to that of their past games with goalkeeping in the hands of Ricardo; defense in the hands of Paulo Ferreira, Fernando Meira, Rui Costa, Nuno Valente; midfield in the hands of Costinha, Maniche, Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco; and offense in the hands of Pauleta.

The 3rd-place match is often played in a calm spirit as both teams have failed to progress to the World Cup finals. It is more so like a friendly match when compared to the Final. However, it is a good opportunity for both sides, especially Germany, to redeem their loss in the semi-finals and prove to their fans that they are worthy of 3rd-place in the World Cup. In my humble opinion, with all the support and the way they have been playing, Germany can easily win this match and prove to the world that they not only are one of the best host-nations to ever host a World Cup, but are also one of the best International football teams in the World.

Farewell to hosts

So will the roles swap? In Italia 90 it was West Germany who won the cup and Italians had to settle for bronze. This time it is Germany who are the host and they are playing for bronze. Will they recover from the semifinal heartbreak? Will they overcome a team which wants its most valuable player ending his farewell match on a high note? That remains to be seen. But looking at the performances so far Germany are the favorites, they are themselves their biggest obstacle and I am sure there will be no shortage of crowd support. In a way it will do justice to the host nation. They were fabulous during the whole tourney and organized out a marvelous Cup. A bronze medal will make them more proud. But football is not about emotions they will have to battle it hard against Portugal who will make it as tough as possible for the host. So sit back and look forward for a fascinating contest, I am just hoping of a cracker of a game.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

France; from old to gold!

At first they were struggling to progress from the first round, but managed a slim victory through which they qualified to the second round being second in their group. But now, their tides have turned, and now those French frowns can turn into French smiles as France has now moved on to the World Cup final, and repeated their victory against Portugal in Euro 2000 which made today's match almost a deja vu of the one in 2000, as ZiZou scored on a similarly controversial penalty. With the stylish poise and degree of French flair, they have proven themselves worthy to play against Italy in the Final to create another deja vu of Euro 2000's final, but this time giving Italy the chance to avenge their loss.

The match, well to be honest really, wasn’t all that much exciting. France did quite well to neutralize the enthusiasm in Portugal, and really suppressed their attacks quite well. Even though both sides had a few players that played for the same clubs (i.e. Chelsea, Real Madrid, etc.); they had all left their friendship at the end of the tunnel. It was a physical stalemate between the two, but France had the mental edge. They played it like they were playing a first round match and didn’t seem in a hurry; they were playing patiently and clinically, and also had a nice touch to the ball as if their shoes were made of glue.

Portugal, on the other hand, even after conceding a goal, did not seem in much of a hurry. Usually when a team loses a goal, they try to equalize quickly and try very excruciatingly to regain their confidence. But Portugal was cool as a cucumber and seemed like they didn’t care if they lost this match like as if they were happy enough to have reached the semi-finals.

Zinedine Zidane, possibly the coolest and best football player ever, played his part spectacularly. When France won the Penalty kick, it only took the superstar three steps to shoot a goal which changed the French destiny and cleared their path to glory. His touch, his passing, his possession, his tackling, his anticipation, his runs, they all lead to one thing and that thing was nothing but the absolute supreme. He played like he plays all his game nowadays; he plays like it’s his last game, and sadly on Sunday that will be true (unless surprisingly he changes his mind; which he won’t).

I must say that France didn’t play no way near like they played against Brazil, but they played enough to get a result against Portugal through which they can advance to the Finals. Portugal, however, didn’t play up to their expectations. I was informed by a very close source to the ex-Brazillian head-coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, that he was quite mad at how lazily Portugal played against France, but that he was equally glad that Portugal came this far.

The game was played in a very good spirit; only 2 yellow card coming in the second half both going to players who had already received a yellow card in previous games, Saha receiving the suspension for the next match against Italy. The refereeing was at times a bit wobbly; and the penalty kick given to France might be called out as somewhat controversial by some, but in all fairness, it was not that much different from the refereeing in other games.

This is it now, almost the end of a very special month of phenomenal football action from Germany; one of the best host nations in World Cup history. From day 1 match between Germany and Costa Rica, to the match that will occur on Sunday between France and Italy, I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every moment of this World Cup in a good spirit, whether blood was shed, goals were scored, tackles were mutilating, balls were thrown in horrible directions, or whether the fight against racism, it was all great, and it was all loved by the fans, and me. And the French game against Portugal today proved just that; it wasn’t anything magical like the game of Italy v. Germany, or France v. Brazil, but it was a game, it was a World Cup game, and that alone makes it worthy of nothing less than a title of absolute perfection.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Predictions; Portugal v. France

Just when France thought they had enough of Brazilians, in comes Luiz Felipe Scolari. Technically the only person who is left defending his world cup crown. Luiz Felipe Scolari, the one who managed and coached Brazil towards the 2002 World Cup final, and cleared their path towards victory. The bad news for the French, and the good news for the Portuguese, is that the midfielder playmaker Deco and the defensive shield Francisco Cortinha will both return from suspension. Raymond Domenech, the one responsible for bringing the spark back into the French team, although that title could just as easily goto Zinedine Zidane, can be confident now that they have beaten the football world super-power: Brazil.

Portugal’s key elements are their superb Goalkeeper, Ricardo, who performed brilliantly in the penalty shootouts in the match against England. Have an eye out for their rock solid defensive line up: Fernando Meira, Miguel, Nuno Valente, the Chelsea star Ricardo Carvalho, and Costinha. In the midfield Deco returns and will play alongside of Figo, Maniche, and Christiano Ronaldo. In attack, well, it’s the agile Goal scorer Pauleta. Judging from all of this, it is not hard to say that Portugal’s line-up is spot-on and their victory in today’s match is fathomable.

The French, on-the-other-hand, despite playing with old yet experienced players, have regained their form as they have defeated anyone who has stepped in their path, especially from the Round of 16. They have properly redeemed their horrible performance in the 2002 World Cup, and have lived up to their title of 1998 World Cup champions. Looking at their last match against Brazil, you could really see how well they have started to play. Their possession has grown, their passing has been bettered by a lot, and they have improved their technique to approach the opposition’s goal and create many chances and capitalize on the opposition’s mistakes. Some key players to watch out for: Fabian Barthez, their Goalkeeper since 1998 with lots of good saves this World Cup, their impressive defensive line-up: Eric Abidal, William Gallas, Lilian Thuram, Willy Sagnol. And their very special midfield: Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele, Florent Malouda, Franck Ribery , and the great Zinedine Zidane. At strike is Arsenal’s superstar Thierry Henry.

The way French played against Brazil, if they came make that magic happen again, then they will definitely win today’s match because Portugal played horrifically against England, even more so after they lost Wayne Rooney to a red-card and were left with 10 on the field. It was their Goalkeeper who saved them in the end. However, it could be a bit different now because Portugal will now have a couple of players back from suspension; most importantly Deco, and that makes a difference. But the French fans shouldn’t start to worry too much because they still have the player of the 90’s, Zinedine Zidane, and he can make things happen like faeries can make magic. Add some Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, and Ribery into the mixture, and you end up with a dangerous recipe of Goal scoring. It’s hard to say who will win; I know Portugal is now a very strong team, but my heart is still beating towards the redeemed French team.

AAAAAAAAAAZZZZZZZZZZZZZUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIi

It was the perfect Italian job, AZZZZZZZZZZZZUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIII are throughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, 2 minutes to go for penalties and they scored not one but two.

Its party in Rome, its party in Milan, its party in Turin and its party in Al-Ain. Twelve years of wait is over. Berlin here we come.

Italians dont want penalties

Seems like Lippi doesnt want to go into penalties, two attacking substitutions with Del Piero and Iaquinta both on into the field.

Unlucky Italians

Oh nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo two hit-posts in two minutes by Italians, They are so unlucky :(

Extra time in Dortmund

So match has entered into extra time with Germany ending on top and Italians looking bit tired.

Germany on top in second half

Its Germans who have started second half a lot better and Italians have come back to their habit of losing ball with wayward long balls or unimaginative thinking. Germany definitely on top now.

Germany on top in second half

Its Germans who have started second half a lot better and Italians have come back to their habit of losing ball with wayward long balls or unimaginative thinking. Germany definitely on top now.

Germany on top in second half

Its Germans who have started second half a lot better and Italians have come back to their habit of losing ball with wayward long balls or unimaginative thinking. Germany definitely on top now.

Wonderful start to the first semi

It has been one fierce match so far with both teams playing some fascinating football. But it is Italians who are on top at the end of first half. They are playing some exhilarating football and as I said before are controlling the midfield very well, though occasionally giving ball away with Pirlo’s mistake almost costing them the Goal. So what will happen in second half just wait and watch, match can go anywhere. It is one on knife’s edge so far.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Battle of Last Four

So it has come down to last four and whosever day it is will decide who will be present in Berlin on July the Ninth. How well or bad the teams have played will matter no more, the only thing which matters now is how they absorb this pressure and hold their nerves. It is a match between one of the best midfields in the tournament vs. one of the best defense and its ironic both units are missing one of their key players. Italy’s Alessandro Nesta hasn’t recovered from his groin injury and Germany’s midfield star Torsten Frings has been handed over two-match suspension after a video evidence showed that he punched Argentinean forward Cruz after their Quarter final win.

War of words have already began between the two camps, started with Germany’s newspaper calling Italians lazy and then Italians players showing their disappointment over it. Then in latest episode with Frings suspension it has been alleged that Italian FA was the one who provided FIFA with the evidence. So its all heating up.

Tactics wise I believe Germany will look to attack from the flanks. I am assuming they will start aggressively and will try to put Italians under pressure. That will make Italians nervous and if Germany succeeds in getting an early lead Italians will be under loads of pressure.

For Italians they should try winning battle in midfield and make Germans work hard for possession. Italians must know home crowd can easily turn into a disadvantage and they should try to slow down pace of the game and frustrate Germany initially and then up the tempo.

Though my heart is with Azzurri but I know Germany has a huge chance to advance. So lets sit and enjoy whatever unfolds in Dortmund.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

France rises to Glory!!!

Oh yes. Oh Hell yes. If there was such a thing called magic... it was the game between Brazil and the outstanding France. The game was perfection, spectacular, visionary ration. France deserved to win everytime I think about it. Every move, every pass, every tackle, every run, every..thing by the French was utterly and solemnly miraculous.

Let me be the first to say that Brasil.... failed to maintain their claims. I don't know about you but Fabien Barthez told me that he was yawning for the most part of the game. They brought in Adriano, they brought in Robinho, they brought in Cicinho, BUT NOTHING COULD BREAK THROUGH THE STUBBORN FRENCH DEFENCE. I thought that it would be a tough game between two heavily enforced sides; but I was wrong. France played at their ultimate best whereas Brasil played at their absolute worst. What went wrong? Overconfidence? Arrogance? Ignorance? or just mere lack of good football.

The game started out quite a bit even sided but as it progressed it was clear that France had a lot more possession and technique with the ball than Brasil. They created more opportunities for themselves and they utilised Brasillian mistakes with supreme perfection. I think they took my advice of studying Brasillian game v. Ghana, observing their mistakes, and capitalising on their flaws. The refereeing, much like most of this World Cup, was mediocre in quality. Some of the fouls were not deservant of yellows and some were very deservant of reds (the tackle of Patrick Viera). But all in all, it was better compared to other games this cup.

After a goalless first half, the second half initialized with even more French possession and opportunities. Finally, after recieving a free kick out side of the 18 yard box, France put Zinedine Zidane the great to take it, and he placed his free kick with such a beautifully crafted curvature aimed for Thierry Henry who superbly homed the ball to perfection. That goal changed everything and provided France with much more confidence and gain in morale; vice versa for Brasil. Most of the second half still remained but Brasil, even with plenty of good substitutions, failed to score anything for their desperate fans. They receieved plenty of free kicks, plenty of corner kicks, plenty of chances, but unfortunately or indeed fortunately they miserably failed to recover. Whatever chance they got, they either put it too high, too off, too wide, or failed to put it anywhere at all.

In my humble opinion, France played simply superb and they succeeded in keeping their fans and the supporters back home utterly captivated with their game, and turned their hopes into reality in the 90 most fabulous minutes of football in a World Cup.

Zinedine Zidane, the great, played clinically. Watching him play with the ball was much like watching non-fat milk run through a cloth of silk. The ball was glued to his feet, even when he performed an astonishing 360 degree turn and kept the possession with style and sophistication. In my mind, he is definitely the man of the match tonight.

So after a long stride of undefeated run, Brasil loses once again to, its Arch-Rival or its nemesis if you will, France. In 1998, Brasil lost to France 3-0. In 2006, Brasil, again, loses to France and France alone, with just a one goal deficit. It seems as though Brasil can truly remain undefeated, until they face France. Brasil, to be fair, failed to live up to their fan's expectations. And France progresses one step further towards supreme glory and prepares to face Portugal in the Semi-Finals.

Henrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

It’s the Arsenal man, it’s the French hero, Its Thierry Henry. Brazil are one down and match has simply exploded.