Monday, July 10, 2006

Zidane loses it as Italy defend their way to glory.

They say that the line between genius and madness is rather thin. Certainly, among many of the great players in football - I'm particularly thinking of you Maradona and Best - players who did what none of their contemporaries could do seemed particulalry inclined towards self-destruction. Maybe it stems from a belief that the uniqueness of their powers should be manifested in a general form of misguided omnipotence in their lifestyle. I don't know.

Either way, the last, and hopefully not abiding, memory of Zidane's career will be a headbutt and red-card in the world cup final. Not the fact that he outrageously, and gloriously, dinked Buffon with a penalty some 90 minutes previously. Whether Materazzi was tweeking his nipples or whatever, what was Zidane thinking? That the importance of redeeming his honour for this slight was greater than the world cup? Would it not have been better to tweek Materazzi's nipples with the trophy afterward?

Whilst the decision was correct, controversy is sure to arise from the manner in which it was taken. I personally thought ZZ had got away with it, but it seems that the fourth and fifth officials took the decision on the basis of pitchside monitors, and then informed the head honcho - who had a decent game I felt. This inevitably raises questions about the validity of the decision and the future use of video replays. Should Zidane have been sent off if none of the officials directly saw the incident? Should replays become part of the game? The BBC, predictably, dodged the issue by saying that, 'well the right decision was taken'. Yes. But how?

The sending off was a sour not in what had been an absorbing, if not spectacular, game. After being forced onto the offensive due to France's early lead, Italy played their most attacking football of the entire tournament for, ooh, about half an hour. Then as soon as France came at them a bit in the second half, they defended. And defended. And defended a little bit more. Even in the second period of extra-time when they had a man advantage, they looked like they were playing for penalties. An ultimately correct decision, if incredibly brave due to their previous record from the spot.

Arsenal's interest in the final was again frustrating. All the inadequacies of playing Thierry up front became apparent as he was progressively marginalised and isolated. The French seemed to be relying on him to take the ball round 3 players and score - something, if not for a superb Buffon save, he nearly did. Yet it was an unrealistic strategy, and the lack of a single wavelength between him and Zidane was achingly apparent. I really feel for Thierry - CL and WC final defeats almost within a month. We're all behind you buddy. Paddy - who i also count as Arsenal interest - had to be taken off, ending his enthralling battle with Gattuso, while Ribery - perhaps Arsenal interest - played well, yet lacked the nerve/ability to take a chance that could have won the game. Wiltord - mercifully not Arsenal interest - again showed his 'ability' by trying to score from a position almost level to the goal posts instead of crossing to Trezeguet right at the death.

So, The Azzuri return home triumphant with a fourth World Cup. Yet they will hardly be remembered as a great side. They were superbly organised by manager of true genius - Lippi - and defended incredibly, but that was about it. Apart from a wonderful performance against Germany, they got to the final by digging in and grinding it out, rather than really taking the game to their opposition. I still think that their gamesmanship was abhorrent even if it did cool off somewhat in their final two games. I was also dissapointed that none of the Italians shook the hands of the French whilst they were still on the pitch, and, instead, just ran about celebrating. Understandable, but perhaps exemplifying a slight lack of class and respect. Trezeguet's Juve teammates could have at least consoled him.

I won't begrudge Italy the trophy, but I still would have loved to have seen ZZ lift the cup. As it was he wasn't even allowed to collect his runners up medal.

So congratulations Italy. Now prepare for the mother of all hangovers, as the state prosecutor delivers his verdict....

Elsewhere, in a little Arsenal news...

According to the NOTW, Sol has quit to become an actor as he is now generally disillusioned with football. Perhaps they could make a remake of 'Escape from LA' based on the Arsenal West Ham match: 'Escape from Highbury', also starring Bobby Zomora and Nigel Reo-Coker.

Also Ribery, Yaya [still!!], and Steven Appiah have all pretty much said they'd like to play for us. Ribery I'd like due to this potential and bottle; still not sure about Appiah and Yaya.

That's all for now. Must go and find something to do now there's no football. NOOO!!!!


1 comment:

gazzap said...

perhaps if diaby was not injured I would not be too bothered about Toure or appiah but I think we need one of them. I am more convinced by both of them than Gilberto, Song and Flamini.

ribery is the one who misses easy chances, but I would only buy him if we can get shot of reyes.

clearly though wenger will buy a central defender now Sols gone. its just a question of who.