World Cup Final open thread

by Chris Bertram on July 9, 2006

Well here we are, and I might as well start things off. I’ll be backing Italy. The French team have played some nice football, but France as a nation were largely indifferent to the competition until their team got within sight of the trophy. The Italians, on the other hand, care deeply. My Italian friends will be ecstatic or suicidal; my French ones will either give a smile of contentment or a shrug of resignation.



Mark Goldstein 07.09.06 at 2:38 am

My head says Italy will win (younger, quicker, Buffon has been amazing in goal), but I will still be rooting for France, if only for sentimental reasons. As I get older, I find myself more in sympathy will older guys coming back for a last shot, and I’d like to see Zidane play well and see the French team do the same and keep the game close at the end. But I am not optimistic that the game will go that way…


Filter 07.09.06 at 2:49 am

I can’t resist utilitarian arguments: go Italy!


Ray 07.09.06 at 3:07 am

Based on the semi-final, the players will react in exactly the same way. Forza Azzuri!


Norman David Gerre 07.09.06 at 3:56 am

As an Australian still bitter about our loss, I’m going for “not Italy”. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive them for putting me in a situation where I have to cheer for France.


Daniel 07.09.06 at 4:35 am

I think the utilitarian argument needs to be put in long term perspective; it would be better overall if more people were like France and fewer like Italy. Since supporting them just rewards the Italians’ ludicrous behaviour, I am supporting France.


yabonn 07.09.06 at 4:56 am

Hih. As for football fanaticism, and despite World Cup 98 and Euro 2000, France still seems to me rather moderate, by european standards.

With the bad results there was some bitterness between the team, the fans, the coach, and not little derision from the media. “The other countries have real supporters” you could hear.

But it all clicked at the Spain match, and now it’s on again. Now the players won’t be afraid of missing the final cause of a yellow : Italy is going to face the Spain/Brazil team.

So the oldies are baahaack, through doubt and uncertainties, etc, etc, and if they win, it’s going to be damn classy.

As a consequence, go France! :)


sanbikinoraion 07.09.06 at 5:06 am

Zidane for glory!


Paul Newman 07.09.06 at 6:27 am

If Italy wins us Yanks can then say we held the WC champs to a draw.


a 07.09.06 at 8:09 am

Good choice – Italy!


Bro. Bartleby 07.09.06 at 8:31 am

In Southern California all eyes and ears will be on the Dodgers as they try to salvage a split with the Giants! I must admit, I do not understand all this running about a field like Irish dancers, not allowed to use your hands, and for what? Goals are certainly not the object … are they? I think the most spectacular sport to come from Europe is the recent Chess-Boxing matches, now that is a sport of brain and brawn. Nothing like cheering on Tihomir Titschko as the sweat drips from his brow while he contemplate sacrificing his knight! Certainly more fun than watching ballet dancers bounce balls off their heads.


Brian 07.09.06 at 8:44 am

Like Norman I’m going for “not Italy”. But I have no objection to being pro-French as well. I’ve been disappointed with Henry this tournament – he’s been much more willing to go down under light challenges than previously – but hopefully he can pull out a vintage performance today.


Jacob Christensen 07.09.06 at 9:38 am

I could make a short or a long argument about this (neither of which are particularly linked to the performances during this tournament) but to make a long story short:

I hope that France wins and expect that Italy wins.


Jacob Christensen 07.09.06 at 9:43 am

…or should that have been anticipate instead of expect? It’s yet another of those cases where I realise that English is not exactly my first language.


bill cowper 07.09.06 at 9:50 am

Go Blue!

France, Italy, Dodgers: I can’t make up my mind.


Aidan Maconachy 07.09.06 at 9:51 am

Forza Italia!!


nameless 07.09.06 at 9:54 am


WWGS? (What would Gramcsi say?)


Robin 07.09.06 at 10:28 am

Allez les bleus!


Tim Worstall 07.09.06 at 10:39 am

Isn’t this Zidane’s final professional match?

I’m not sure what to hope for, that he leaves the stage carrying the Jules Rimet or, like Bradman, walks away oh so close but not quite.


Randy Paul 07.09.06 at 11:10 am

I’m pulling for France for a couple of reasons:

1.) To put another finger in Le Pen’s eye.

2.) Because I want Brazil to get their hexa championship before another country gets their tetra.

I think that the smart money remains on Italy, however.


Josh 07.09.06 at 11:20 am


Cala 07.09.06 at 11:45 am

Allez les vieux!


Phersu 07.09.06 at 11:48 am

Since I am French and fear yet another wave of fanatical ball-worship by my country-men, I hope the Italian team wins.


And Prodi needs all the help he can get. Some Brazilians claim the defeat of their team is a danger for Lula’s reelection now.


Filter 07.09.06 at 1:05 pm

Oh my god.


Backword Dave 07.09.06 at 1:07 pm

Allez les Frogs!


Filter 07.09.06 at 1:19 pm

1:1. Eh eh.


Aidan Maconachy 07.09.06 at 1:55 pm

That was a penalty? Looked like a fair challenge on my screen.

The Matarazzi header was a beauty.


Bro. Bartleby 07.09.06 at 1:55 pm

Tihomir Titschko just moved White King Bishop to Queen Bishop 4!!! Then Tihomir jumped back into the ring and immediately planted a right jab to Andreas Schneider nose!!


Filter 07.09.06 at 1:59 pm

Yes, it was a penalty. Materazzi can make very stupid fouls. Very balanced match until now, if you ask me.


Brian 07.09.06 at 2:29 pm

It was definitely a penalty. There wasn’t much there but Materazzi definitely bumped him and it caused Malouda to fall.

And I thought the one in the second half on Malouda was even clearer. The defender didn’t get any of the ball as far as I saw and he brought the attacker own. I don’t know what more you need.


Filter 07.09.06 at 2:33 pm

I don’t think the second one was a penalty. Zambrotta missed the ball but didn’t do anything to bring Malouda down. Even the French can dive, you know.


Filter 07.09.06 at 3:06 pm

Oh no! Trezeguet is in. He scares me!


Mark Goldstein 07.09.06 at 3:09 pm

Buffon — again!


Filter 07.09.06 at 3:17 pm

Ouch! Zidane deserved a red card there.


Mike Otsuka 07.09.06 at 3:17 pm

But if we’re prioritarian rather than utilitarian, then we should root for France:

“It is a common mistake to think that the French care less about their football than the English. The glorious victory of 1998 is every bit as important in the French psyche as England’s victory in 1966 is to every English fan. However, in contrast to England since the arrival of the Premiership, football is still largely a working class and immigrant obsession and match-going an urban phenomenon. This, in part, explains its near-invisibility in the higher echelons of the media and the rarefied indifference of most politicians when it comes to the sport of ‘prolos’ and ‘beaufs’ (a word that roughly means ‘chavs’).”


Filter 07.09.06 at 3:18 pm

And out he went.


Daniel 07.09.06 at 3:19 pm

god that was a good headbutt.


Jamie 07.09.06 at 3:19 pm

Oh, classy exit for ZZ.

Viva Italia!


Backword Dave 07.09.06 at 3:19 pm

Oah! Zizo, you pillock!


Mark Goldstein 07.09.06 at 3:20 pm

and deserved it, indeed.


Isabel 07.09.06 at 3:24 pm

Mmmm…. What did the Italian tell him? I know that soccer is also about mindgames, but..


P O'Neill 07.09.06 at 3:27 pm

yes, what did materazzi say, and in what language?


Daniel 07.09.06 at 3:29 pm

ooh goody, penalties!


Nick 07.09.06 at 3:32 pm

So, Barthez to score the winning penalty then . . .


Eszter 07.09.06 at 3:33 pm

I posted a separate entry about Zidane and Materazzi.


Isabel 07.09.06 at 3:33 pm

In a language that Zidane understood, obviously. Maybe Materazzi practiced insulting all his female line in Arab (assuming that Zidane knows Arab, but insults are the first thing one learns and the last one forgets).


Eszter 07.09.06 at 3:37 pm

I hated this ending in 1994 and I hate it now.


Daniel 07.09.06 at 3:38 pm

Italy to win on penalties?!?!?!?!!!


Daniel 07.09.06 at 3:41 pm

well I’ll be …


Filter 07.09.06 at 3:41 pm

We won!
And now… it will be a long night. :-D


Jon Moyer 07.09.06 at 3:43 pm

Well, didn’t think there was a dime’s difference between the two, but Italy surely deserved just as punishment for Zidane’s stupidity. Sheesh, what a bonehead.


Daniel 07.09.06 at 3:44 pm

Well, didn’t think there was a dime’s difference between the two

were you watching a different match? I thought France played better to the tune of at least 25c. Them’s the breaks though.


Filter 07.09.06 at 3:46 pm

Yes, France played better. :-)


Randy Paul 07.09.06 at 3:51 pm


Arab is a person who is ethnically Arab. Arabic is the language that they speak.

yes, what did materazzi say, and in what language?

I’m sure whatever he said, he said in Italian as Zidane played for Juventus for several years and probably knows some of the language.


a 07.09.06 at 3:52 pm

France played better in the second half, Italy in the first, and both teams looked like they were dying of exhaustion in the over-time.

Well, I guess this means the U.S. are the runner-ups – they were the only team not to get beaten by Italy.


Chris Bertram 07.09.06 at 3:57 pm

Well, I guess this means the U.S. are the runner-ups – they were the only team not to get beaten by Italy.

England didn’t get beaten by Italy, nor did Portugal, or the Ivory Coast, or Ecuador …. etc etc


P O'Neill 07.09.06 at 4:00 pm

Speaking of USA-Italy, a bit sickening to see Danielle de Rossi up there collecting a medal.


P O'Neill 07.09.06 at 4:11 pm

classic analysis on Sky News now — the Italians “such a colourful people”


Dan Kervick 07.09.06 at 4:30 pm

Well there’s no question the French had the better all-around game. They actually mounted an attack in the second half and put some pressure on Buffon and Italian defense.

The Italians seemed to hit the wall at the end of the first half, and were collectively running in sand for the entire second half and both overtimes. They could barely string two passes together. Their fatigue was so palpable it was almost painful to watch.

But lots of credit to the indomitable Cannavaro, and all the Italian defenders, for just hanging on for 75 minutes, with a stalled Italian attack turning the ball over again and again and again.

Did it look to anyone else that the pitch was very slow? Maybe it was the humidity. Many of the ground passes seemed to slow down and barely reach their intended targets.

Henry finally played a good game. Maybe someone should have hit him in the head sooner.


a 07.09.06 at 4:41 pm

Oh c’mon, that’s not really a reply Chris.

The U.S. should be the runner-ups because they were the only team to have played Italy who didn’t lose.

(And this is, of course, just a joke…)


yabonn 07.09.06 at 5:05 pm

Well, we lost. On the plus side :

– no more flags everywhere

– no Chirac bounce

– no Zidane ads everywhere, for ever and ever and ever

– the face of sport journalists

Ah well : GG Italy.


radek 07.09.06 at 5:18 pm

Hmmm, ended up watching the game with an ex-girlfriend who knows nothing about soccer.

She: “Who are you rooting for?”

Me: “France”

She: “Why?”

Me: “They cheat slightly less then Italians”

Oh well. This has been one of the most disappointing cups I’ve ever watched. Pretty much every team I cheered for lost. Poland, Czechs, Ecuador, Australia, Dutch, Ukraine. I guess that’s what you get for going with the underdogs. Most games were freaking boring. Refereeing with some exceptions was spectacularly horrible. Same old boring teams won. Then, my second-most-hated team wins the damn thing. My most-hated team, with the most-hated player, gets fourth. Gawd, I found myself cheering for Germany and France, WTF? I think I applauded that headbutt (very good indeed – I appreciated how he jogged up to get in front of Materazzi all cool and sneaky like, then turn around and BAM! outta nowhere) as much I would have a goal.

College football starts soon.


snuh 07.09.06 at 5:55 pm

italy really have mastered the art of winning but not deserving to.


Jim 07.09.06 at 6:46 pm

For what it’s worth on the “US is the runner-up” comment, I just came back from the Fan Mile in front of the Brandenburg Gate here in Berlin. Well, an Italian guy accidentally stepped on my foot and after he apologized, he asked where I was from. When I said the U.S., he said, “Hey, when we played you the game finished 1-1, so that means we’re equal.”

I guess there’s at least one really drunk Italian out there who agrees with you.


vice 07.09.06 at 6:47 pm

Sorry Chris – one sublime match (Germany) doesn’t earn my support, especially when they were, next to Portugal, the kings of diving and moaning. Even tonight, they only carried the match for a stretch in the first half. Granted, the French could not beat Buffon, but I was hoping for a second for France…


Ray 07.10.06 at 2:42 am

One the ‘US not being beaten by Italy’ thing. The US only played Italy for 90 minutes. In 90 minutes, Germany and France weren’t beaten either.

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