The first half was brilliant with both sides playing attacking football. Italy played better in the first half but the second half was all France. Except that you have to score goals to win and France didn’t. Domenech is a nut for not having an extra striker on to support Henry and convert the dominance into goals. This Guardian piece makes that point well.
The moment of madness came when Zidane head-butted Materazzi and was sent off. I don’t know what Materazzi said or did to make Zidane angry but whatever it was, Zidane, as captain should’ve known better. An experienced player being drawn into such traps is stupid. The reporter on CNN-IBN was talking about how Zidane was a gentleman, blah, blah. A load of crap. Zidane had a short fuse before (remember 1998 when he stepped on a Saudi player?) and he blew it again.
France also would feel unlucky to lose Vieira with a hamstring injury, the midfield was clearly missing him. Losing Henry to a substitution, probably due to an injury, didn’t help either. Because of this and the Zidane incident, France had lost three penalty takers. It showed when an off-colour Trezeguet missed the penalty–he has been a disappointment for some time now.
The Italians were magnificient in defence. Cannavaro was a rock and easily is the best defender in the world. His battles with Henry were amazing to watch. Because of Cannavaro and Gattuso, the Italians have gone home champions. Even without Nesta, who’s another superb defender, Italy managed to just let in two goals.
Marcelo Lippi deserves credit for the win–he was attacking both in the semi-final against Germany and the finals. The Italians were not the best team yesterday but overall, you have to say that they deserved to win the cup. They came out of a tough group and they beat the hosts, something Argentina could not do.
France will know that they lost a great chance to win the cup. They’ll have to replace Zidane, Vieira, Makalele, Thuram, Barthez, and maybe others too.
Bring on 2010 in South Africa.