Thursday, July 06, 2006

Azzurri v. Bleues

I'm looking forward to the day I don't write about soccer no more, till 2010.
The France-Portugal match was excrutiatingly boring, except for the last five minutes, when Portugal awoke from its bizarre, second-half zombiefied state, to try to score no matter what, including Ricardo, their goalie, leaving his post to help his teammates score. Those last minutes of the game were hair-raising. Yet it was trop little, trop late. France's win was not that spectacular, only a penalty kick by the great Zidane. Nothing to write home about.
The Portuguese seemed to have played better and attacked more, but they didn't nail it. Also, perhaps they were hampered by the fact that almost all of them had prior yellow cards, so they couldn't be as dirty as they are used to. Still, Cristiano Ronaldo, he of the pout, is a great player. And so are some of his teammates. I find them all utterly charmless, however.
I couldn't care less about the Portugal-Germany match for third place. But it may be a good match because the teams are looking to save their honor. Somehow, I'm rooting for Germany (only because I like the coach so much). I really have no sympathy for either.
As for the je ne sais quois against the ma che cosas, I don't know why, but I'm still with France.
Zidane. Zinedine. Yum.
The coach, who looks more like Jean Luc Godard, or an auteur from la nouvelle vague, with his intellectual, professorial air, than a man who has ever kicked a ball in his life. He is so quintessentially French, I want to air kiss him three times in each cheek. I love his gestures. He is too cool for l'ecole, le coach. J'adore him.
As a friend of mine says, who lived and went to school in France, when you are black or an Arab in France you pretty much either end up playing ball or you burn cars. This team represents the part of French society no one wants to see. And somehow it makes the French look bad (which is always fine by me). I know it's slightly convoluted reasoning, but that is why I'm rooting for France.
I just don't think it's right that the national team of a country that has a disgraceful corruption scandal in its soccer leagues should win the World Cup. What message does that send?
However, the Italians are lots of fun to watch. They are extremely expressive, melodramatic, wily and sometimes quite inspired.
Throughout this neverending tournament, I have noticed that I always root against the teams that my friends like. Go figure.

Let the best man win.

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