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Thinking About France-Italy

July 6, 2006

The more I think about the Final this Sunday (if you have to ask “what Final?” then stop reading now), the more I think I’m going to have to stay neutral this time around. Here are my thoughts:

Les Bleus

  1. I love Zidane (or, j’aime Zizou) and his resurgence is inspiring. The fact that this will be his last game ever just adds to the glory of it all.
  2. J’ai etudie francais depuis un an, et ma femme et moi avons voyage a Paris pour notre vacances de mariage. J’aime Lille OSC aussi.
  3. I’m a sucker for the underdog, and with only 1 World Cup to their name – won on home soil – the French are still the upstart at this level. Let’s not forget the debacle of 2002 either.
  4. I wrote in Matchnight’s World Cup prediction piece that Thierry Henry would be the player to have the biggest impact for his team at this World Cup – and there’s a chance that prediction could come true. Heck, even Ribery managed to score a goal earlier this tournament, so you know the French must be doing something right offensively.

Forza Italia

  1. My wife’s family is Italian, and they’re led by the grandmother/matriarch of the family (one of the sweetest women you could ever hope to meet). Her house has a handful of Italian flags around it, and she can tell you all sorts of stories about the extended family in true Italian style. Plus, I’ve been threatened with “a trip to Youngstown” if I ever hurt Carole – so I’ve got that working against me.
  2. So far, the only team to score on Italy is, well, Italy. Under pressure from us Americans. It would be some source of comfort if they completed the shutout – and vindication for an American team that played them very tightly for the draw.
  3. For as much as I love the underdog, I also don’t like one team to dominate too much. Brazil, with 5 world titles, needs to be caught. Italy would move to 4 titles with a win, giving Brazil some company on the pedestal that so many people put them on.
  4. As a central defender, I don’t get as bothered by a defensive-oriented team – so catenaccio never really bothered me too much (sorry Jamie). There’s something about a ruthlessly efficient defense that I find inspiring, I guess. See #2 above.

So, those are some of my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours, so leave a comment if you like. Or at least vote in the poll.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jamie permalink
    July 7, 2006 6:16 am

    For me, it comes down to one thing: clean play. The French, for the most part (as much as any team in international soccer can these days) have played cleanly and well. The Italians, as per usual, play in a system where diving is encouraged, dirty play simply means you’re trying harder, and embellishment is re-named “passion.” They’re almost as bad as the Mexicans. In fact, they are what Mexico might be if Mexico played in a more talented confederation than ours.

    I find it interesting that the one team that’s really given them trouble in this tournament, the Americans, is probably the one team that really didn’t have a good flow to their game to disrupt. We play a sort of catenaccio, I think – but without the bunkering. Our catenaccio is played in the midfield and even up to the front of the opponent’s net, where we pass around all day looking for that perfect shot and don’t feel the need to do things like shoot from outside or run at defenders.

    The one reason I’d possibly (remotely) cheer for Italy is to take that small bit of satisfaction that we played the World Champions the most tightly. But my love of attractive soccer outweighs that entirely. Honestly, the US doesn’t deserve to take any satisfaction from Germany 2006, and I would really hate to see the USSF try to do so with an Italy win.

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