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.