Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sacre Bleu!!!

France just played its best game in the World Cup since it beat Brazil in the '98 final. Although that is not tough to do considering how France played in '02 and the group stage of '06, it was truly a great performance. Zidane was his old self, even scoring a goal, and Vieira played like he was 25 and not 30. It pains me to say this but I actually rooted for France today, I wanted to see the team make another run and perform their best, especially with Zizou retiring (allegedly) from the national team after the WC.

To me this was one of the best games so far in the tournament. It had two teams with immense talent. It was experience versus youth. It had excellent execution. And, quite simply it was a magnificent game despite the 3-1 scoreline. It was much closer, with France going ahead only in the 83rd minute.

Ribery was excellent at creating opportunities and exploiting the Spanish defense on the wings and got the equalizer late in the first half. Zidane controlled the game like old times and took the free kick that Vieira nodded in to take the lead. He also had a beautiful stoppage time goal to put the game away. On the Spanish side El Nino, Fernando Torres, showed great speed and worked hard on the attack. But, the French defense held only yielding a penalty kick in the first half.

It was a very hard fought match but there were relatively few cards because the ref prevented dirty play by talking to the players and calling the game very closely. The only blemish was when Henry duped the ref into giving France the free kick that led to the second goal. Henry ran into the Spanish defender and pretended to have been elbowed in the face. The ref only had a look from the back and it could easily have looked like an elbow, but it wasn't.

If France continues to play like this and get Henry involved in the match, Brazil should be worried. The French attack could thresh the porous Brazilian defense, especially with Ribery attacking on the wings.

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