The Witch Is Dead
For the first time since 1990, the World Cup Final will not involve Brazil. For the first time since 1982, there will not be a South American representative. Argentina and Brazil have both fallen out of the tournament – Argentina on penalties to the Germans, while Brazil lost 1-0 – to France, again.
I\’ve been in the Anybody But Brazil camp for 4 years now, so I can\’t say I\’m disappointed that they\’re gone. It\’s not that I don\’t like their players – Ronaldinho is a joy to watch when he\’s on his game, and as a defender myself I\’m in awe of what Roberto Carlos can do. In a way, though, its for all of those reasons that I didn\’t want them to win. To me, it\’s the same thing as the Yankees or Chelsea or Manchester United. They\’re just too good, and I find myself rooting against them because of their dominance.
Argentina was a shame, though – they played some good soccer these last few weeks. If anything I wish there was a way that Italy and the Ukraine could have both lost, in favor of Germany and Argentina both progressing. Those two teams have such history, playing in two straight World Cup Final matches in \’86 and \’90, that for them to meet in the quarters seems cruel.
France-Brazil in the quarters is a sick joke too, but I honestly didn\’t see France winning that game; I thought Spain had the better chance. Shows you what I know (and why they still bother to play the games, as most pundits had Brazil winning this tournament in a landslide). There\’s a not-small part of me that hopes that Zidane can go out on top – I\’ve admired him since he and Deschamps patrolled the midfield together with Juventus.
So now, we have three former champions and Portugal – who are coached by a guy who\’s unbeaten in his last 12 World Cup games. It\’s all shaping up to be quite the finale, honestly. One semifinal is a rematch of the \’82 Final (won by Italy), while the other is a rematch of the Euro 2000 semifinals. If those games are any indication, it\’ll be Italy-France in the final – but it\’d be foolish to bet against the hosts at this point.