5 July 2006



Zidane 33 (Pen)

The Portuguese defence got caught on a longball out of defence, Malouda, probably
because he was being shadowed by the brilliant Miguel, wasted the opportunity by
snatching at his shot. Barthez flapped at a tame Deco effort but no one was on hand
to take advantage. Just past the half hour mark Malouda dribbled his way past a
couple of Portuguese players before giving a reverse pass to Henry and he made the
most of Carvalho's clumsy challenge as he turned inside the defender to win a
penalty. Up stepped Zidane to blast the ball into the bottom left corner. Henry wasted
a good opening with a poor finish and Ricardo, like slap-head Barthez, made hard
work of a tame long range shot.

The French should have finished off Portugal on the break early in the second half but
Zidane screwed up a pass to Henry with the striker open in the box. Les Blues made
no concerted attempts to attack probably confident in the knowledge that Portugal's
strikers would have problems scoring in the MLS & J-League let alone in the World
Cup but with prize clown Barthez in goal there's always a chance. He dropped an
almighty bollock when he scooped a Ronaldo free kick high in the air with both hands
but Figo bailed him out by heading over. In injury time Thuram fell under a challenge
from Postiga when they battled for a longball but Meira smashed it into row Z.

After last night's classic both teams served up a magnitude of shite. As far as Portugal
are concerned good riddance to bad rubbish. One goal in three games in the knockout
stages speaks for itself and their part in the disgraceful match against the Dutch
cannot be overlooked. I expected more from Scolari, especially given the way Brazil
played in 2002 and Portugal in 2004 but I guess, given the abysmal quality of the
squad he had to work with, surely one of the worst teams to ever play in a World Cup
semi-final, he did well to get them this far.

Ronaldo was unmercifully booed by the French, presumably because people thought
he was disingenuous in his comments over the Rooney red card and because he
continues the long tradition of simulation that plagues Portuguese players (Greeks
and Turks are equally as bad). Ronaldo and Postiga should have been booked for
diving in the box.

Zidane looked exhausted after 60 minutes, as did many of the other players which
makes Sunday's midfield battle all the more intriguing. Gattuso and Pirlo can keep
going for 90 minutes and beyond, can Vieira and Makelele? Unfortunately for Italy
Saha is out of the final having picked up his second yellow of the knockout stages
which means Trezeguet will play some part and we all know what happened last
time he played against Italy.

Attendance : 66,000
Assist : Henry (won pen)
4 July 2006



Grosso 118


Del Piero 120

Totti chipped a delightful pass to Roma team-mate Perrotta but a poor first
touch was the invitation Lehmann needed to come off his line and smother the
ball. Germany's forwards tore through the heart of the Italian defence with a
rapid series of one-twos but as Klose played the ball out wide to Schneider the
imposing figure of Buffon had advanced off his line to close down the angles and
Schneider blazed over.

Early in the second half Klose gathered a pass 30 yards from goal and headed
straight from the centre of the box and showed tremendous strength to hold off
Gattuso then probably became the first player in this tournament to beat
Cannavaro but Buffon rushed off his line and kicked the ball clear. Schneider
dropped a ball between Grosso and Gattuso, Podolski rolled Materazzi as he
turned before drawing a good save from Buffon and Friedrich snatched at the

With the spectre of penalties looming Italy made an aggressive start to extra
time. Metzelder fell on the right edge of the box as he battled with Gilardino
for a loose ball, Ballack arrived to cover, as Gilardino got to the by-line he
cut inside Ballack only to see his shot come back of Lehmann's post, shades of
Milan vs Barcelona. A minute later Zambrotta rattled the crossbar after Pirlo's
corner was only half cleared. Late in first half injury time Podolski, who did a
tremendous amount of work in midfield, wasted what was arguably Germany's
clearest opening. As Grosso backed off from the jet heeled Odonkor the
midfielder floated a super deep cross to the back post and Podolski headed yards

Seconds after Del Piero wasted a good opening by getting the ball caught in his
feet the Germans poured forward on the break through Kehl and Odonkor, Kehl's
angled pass took Podolski wide of Cannavaro but his shot was brilliantly saved
by Buffon. Gilardino laid off Iaquinta's delightful back heel to Del Piero but
he slashed his shot horribly wide. Iaquinta helped setup another chance with a
volleyed pass infield to Pirlo, he took advantage of Kehl's slip to unleash a
shot from 25 yards which Lehmann tipped out for a corner. Kehl didn't get enough
on Del Piero's corner, clearing the ball as far as Pirlo who was standing inside
the D, he took four steps forward (and three defenders with him) before slipping
a disguised pass to Grosso who struck a fantastic, first time left foot shoot
into the bottom left corner of Lehmann's net, queue Marco Tardelli style
celebrations from the Palermo defender. Cannavaro headed out a deep Ballack
cross then burst out of his box to follow up as Podolski intercepted, Cannavaro
headed the ball down and continued to run forward before Totti took the ball off
him and sent Gilardino racing down the left, Gilardino turned off the pace as he
approached the box and stepped past Metzelder before playing in the galloping
Del Piero with magnificent reverse pass, the Juve forward curled the ball first
time into the top corner of the net and seconds later the ref blew for full

Klinsmann consoled his players after the match. He has proved all his critics
totally and utterly wrong and took the German football back 2 decades, back to
when the team played an aggressive brand of direct, attacking football. They
have a bright future with him as coach.

One of the all time great football matches played in a wonderful spirit by two
adventurous teams matched by Mexican referee Benito Archundia's officiating.
High on precision, high on flair and composed defending, especially from the
Italians. In extra time Italy were playing with three forwards (Gilardino,
Iaquinta and Del Piero) in addition to Totti and Pirlo. Pirlo and Gattuso were
outstanding and there aren't enough superlatives to describe the level of
performance of Fabio Cannavaro.

"Some foreign critics have too negative a view of Italian football. No top level
Italian club for example play the old-style man-marking game. Our football
has evolved." - Marcello Lippi, World Soccer April 2006

"This team often plays with three men up front, we play an attacking game and
one that calls for me and the other strikers to help out in midfield too. It
calls for the whole side to be involved all the time and it a long way from the
old catenaccio label that people like to stick on us."
Alberto Gilardino, World Soccer April 2006

Attendance : 65,000
Assists : Pirlo, Gilardino