Monday, July 10, 2006

preliminary demns and blasts

Ah, sport.

Some part of me knew it was inevitable, but heck, it’s too bad that a young, driven, brilliant guy had just one thing standing between him and glory.

Still, that Roger Federer. Really something to come up against, huh?

…as for that other minor sporting event that only about half the world was watching, wow. Italy. Italy. Who’d a-thunk, huh? Except for a few million pasta-eating Meditteranean populations, and ME, ME MEMEMEMEMMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMYTEAMWONOMG!

And it wasn’t a kick in the face to Jean-Marie Le Pen, worse luck. Maybe it wasn’t an airy beautiful catanaccio-free game, and alright, maybe one or two parts were actually like an operatic nightmare, but they won. And they won because there wasn’t a one among them who weren't focused utterly on winning, on sticking it out to finish the job. And they did. Kausha and I were talking before the game and we both agreed that it was brilliant to see how well this Italy had knit together. They’re a team that can afford to bench superstars like del Piero and Inzaghi as subs, but overwhelmingly it felt like they were playing as an eleven-man team, an Italy rather than a Totti or Toni or whoever that came on with an assorted back-up chorus of players when they felt like it. They don’t have someone as transcendently great as Zidane or – as he will undoubtedly count someday – Henry, but that worked out to their advantage in the end, didn’t it?

As for Zidane, I’m deeply unhappy about what happened. If it hadn’t been for the red card, I’d probably have been struck dumb with joy (and then this blog would have been a smiley face and many, many fashion-calendar shots of the winning side). I wish there was an explanation. After the cool and confidence of his penalty kick – which was SO undeserved, by the way! – things just seemed to go downhill. And just as we were asking each other why he couldn’t just, y’know, lighten up; boom. I have no doubt that Materrazzi was being annoying, but the headbutt? That was not Zidane. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t even soccer. Not even Argentinian soccer. I watched some of the Germany-Portugal game on Saturday, an utter waste of match, and wondered at Figo unpatriotically making himself unavailable until it was too late – didn’t he wonder if it would have made a difference if he’d have been on the pitch, even in a loser’s final? How much more gobsmacking the idea of it being a Cup final, and a farewell match, and it being Zizou?

So of course after Henry and he left it had to run into penalties, which are a deeply unpleasant way of settling scores, especially with Italy’s history with shootouts. And whoa, hello, turning of tides much. As much as I hate them for sheer dependence on chance, it did in retrospect look like everything Italy 2006 had been about had come together to score those five shots. I wish Buffon had been able to pull off some Lehmann-like saves, but I guess the fact that he can’t and still be widely acknowledged as the world’s best ‘keeper says enough.

If I had to pick one man for special credit, though, I’d have to call Cannavaro. I’d have to call Cannavaro for President. VOTE him. Because. Because! World Cup 2006!

current musix: david bowie - golden year.


  1. YOOOOOOO Italy cracks :D Though I would have preferred Italy winning it in style, rather than penalty shootouts. I agree with u abt Cannavaro...amazing tackles.

    As for's a shame that he had to exit that way. But as one of my friends said, one needs to wait till the entire story is to what words could unnerve a player of his experience and maturity at such a crucial point in the game.

    ps: I totally loved the part where the team snipped Camaronessi's ponytail :D

  2. Pirlo for President i say. all the clubs will be getting ouwwt their cheque books for people now!!

  3. I have no doubt that Materrazzi was being annoying...

    Oh, I imagine he was being a lot more than just annoying. But whatever the case, the red card had to happen. Big pity about is tempted to descend into smug cliches about sports being a great leveller etc, but it's always sad when one actually sees it happen.

    And Vamos, Rafa! That kid is awesome. Most players in the world would have let Fed walk all over them after the first two sets.

  4. wow!!cannavaro is the kohinoor diamond in this italian team...
    Zidane is not god enuf!!!!
    viva la italia!!!!!!!!!!

  5. ummm...according to the Guardian he tweaked Zidanes nipple and apparently (stress apparently) called Zizou a "terrorist", whatever it was i dont think Zidane psycho enough to loose it for no reason...

    oh, well the red card was totally deserved...though i really feel the umpire should have looked at what Materazzi said as well...nicely done Fifa, saying no to racism....
    Italy deserved their win in the end was just really sad to see Zizou go off like that..

    If Le Pen makes a crap statement (and i wouldnt be surprised to see it) like what do you expect of an Algerian muslim or something ill be tempted to strangle him...or maybe Zidane can headbutt him as well...sigh...=(

  6. @ golu: The celebrations went slightly crazy, didn't they? Gattuso without his pants! Buffon kissing Peruzzi on the podium! Hee, part of the reason I was hoping they'd win was because no one quite gets into the party mood like they do.

    @ kausha: Buffon and Cannavaro are going to get BIG money. Still, fate. They might even decide to stick with Juve after this. It'd be properly dramatic, gli campioni del mondo playing Serie C football with courage and smiles on their face. HAH.

    @ jabberwock: Tragic. I realise now that Zizou isn't entirely innocent of a nasty temper, but this was needless. No matter how much of a mofo Materrazzi was, I can't believe he said or did anything that Zizou hasn't quelled with a cold stare before.

    I'll be watching Rafa very very closely in the time to come. He's my pick for world champ next year. Incredible guy. :D

    @ mathew: I know! I'm scared of how awesome he's been this World Cup. I'm waiting to see how the Serie A scandal goes, too. Some very lucky club might just get themselves the world's best defender - and captain - if things don't go well for Juve.

    @ szerelem: I read about the nipple tweak! Painful. I hope Materrazzi is pulled up if he is culpable of anything worse than what normally happens on a football pitch every second minute or so. As inexcusable as an apparent racist remark is, though, I think the guys over at the Guardian blog need to get a grip. Bringing up Berlin '36 is a bit out of line. I'd have liked this game to strike a blow for multiculturalism and glorious acceptance as much as the next person, but both football and world history are a bit more complicated than that.

    Condolences, though. Wish there'd been less injuries. Vieira, Henry and Ribery staying on would almost certainly have swung the match in France's favour.

  7. oh, i totally agree about people on the Guardian blog going overboard.

    And quite honestly '98 was seen as a huge win for multiculturalism but seriously there is something rotten at the heart of French society which they really need to confront and no multicultural World Cup winning team would've changed that...except probably swept the problem under the carpet for the time being....

    and the Italians were really adorable celebrating...

  8. My sympathy for ZZ is limited. Let's not forget he already missed a match for two consecutive yellow cards so the guy has "priors". Secondly, no matter what was said, violence isn't the answer - especially when you consider he is a massive role model in France. He knew Viera and Henry were off the pitch in the case of penalties. It was just plain dumb.

  9. "I have no doubt that Materrazzi was being annoying, but the headbutt? That was not Zidane."

    I'm told he did something similar in the '98 world cup (when you were six :) ), before the finals. But it was sad. I thought France played the better football yesterday though.

  10. France played better football in the final, but Italy played consistently better football in the tournament. Plus, its revenge for the last world cup when they were denied by some truly shocking refereeing.


    Sorry, it had to be said.

    I wish this game had been less angsty and more porny, like the 1998 quarter final (when both Barthez and Pagliuca mooned the cameras before the penalty shootout).

  12. szerelem: exactly. not to take away from materazzi's sins, but i think the reaction is what sets this incident apart from what generally occurs on field.

    @ bina: firstly, hi-five on italy. secondly: i do think that zidane must have had his reasons for doing what he did. it may have been a selfish, reprehensible act of violence, but if he did it knowing that he was leaving his team in the lurch - shrug. they could have scored a perfect set of PK's, anyway. but they just didn't look the part in the end.

    unratiosenatic: i *watched * france '98. i was just innocent of that particular act of racism/counter-racism. zizou's temper is all the more unpleasant for manifesting itself so rarely. and, well, what bina said on how deserving italy was of this cup.

    @ isheeta: invoke godwin's law; i'm going to call him a nipple nazi. god, he's like - hulking.

    both Barthez and Pagliuca mooned the cameras before the penalty shootout

    what makes me really glad i wasn't there to look at barthez' bare bottom?

  13. @Ros: Since u mentioned Gattuso, did you notice that the chap had his pants taken off twice :)) He was wearing shorts of different colours at different instances after the cameras first caught him without his pants on :D.