So were do we start? Before we get to our World Cup Final… let’s get some shite off our chests (and yes, we’re slowly morphing into some sort of English/Scottish/Irish/American in our usage of the English language. Deal.)
Things we’re happy about here at VFLOAB: A much needed Who renaissance, Fantasy Football thoughts, college football is a month away!, the White Sox, All-Start Game is coming soon!, North Korea’s missiles falling harmlessly into the ocean, Harold Pinter info, all those people who not only watched, but actually cared about the World Cup. Soccer’s going to make a run as the #4 sport in America over the next ten years. Let’s see if people start going to MLS games first though…
Things we’re not happy about here at VFLOAB: Maria Sharapova crashing out at Wimbledon, Portuguese soccer, North Korea firing missiles, “Grey’s Anatomy” getting Emmy nods, Pitchfork’s new design, Israel, Palestine, American Apparel’s cloths never looking half as good in the store as they do on line, and bad beer.
What are the chances that Ken Lay is some where in Argentina as you read this? We think they’re pretty good… the man is 64, was found guilty, but hasn’t been sentenced but shall be shortly, chillin’ at a rented vacation home in Colorado when the ‘heart attack’ took place, it’s the holiday weekend… I wouldn’t doubt it if old Kenny is down in Argentina as we speak (even though we’re not speaking of course). Of course he could really be dead… who knows. In a way, who cares, he gone either way you look at it. I hope his tombstone says something like “Yeah, I was a total dick, Sorry, Karma is a Bitch”
You know, we should all spend more time checking out the Guardian and their book section. Seriously. It’s awesome.
The World Cup is over, a month of daily soccer and putting baseball squarely in second place in my mind (I know the White Sox went something like 143-4 against the NL while I was half following, baseball thoughts soon, I swear)… anyway, the World Cup is over. We’re sad here at VFLOAB, but we’re also a little happy. See this World Cup… it just wasn’t great. It had its moments, but when the Group Stages is the best part of the World Cup, well it just wasn’t that great. Sure this World Cup had more drama than a season with TO, but most of that drama was thanks to either brutal reffing or players (cough, Zidane and De Rossi, cough) attempting to latterly destroy opponents… well… I’m not sure what to say. So how can we rap up this World Cup… Ummm… let’s try and make this interesting. WISH US LUCK.
The Final – The game itself was aiight. It was up and down at times and wasn’t boring. France scored on a cheap penalty call (but then when they really did draw a penalty, there was no call, so it evens out). The Italians came back within twenty minutes. And for much of the first half, it looked like it was only a matter of time before the Italians scored again… Toni even hit the crossbar to drive home this point.
And then something happened at half time… Thierry Henry, with help form Ribery and Malouda took over the game in the second half. Henry’s speed and creativity, with Ribery and Malouda’s speed and creativity, had the Italians on their heels. But France wasn’t able to score in part because of Gianluigi Buffon and in part because of Fabio Cannavaro. Buffon’s save on Zadane in the first Extra Time not only, obviously, won the World Cup, but was amazing. I’m still shocked that didn’t go into the net. Just imagine how different today would be if Buffon doesn’t get a hand on that? Zadane walks off as one of the three or four greatest footballers of all time.
Sure the game had its lulls at times and the Italians were hanging on by the skin of their teeth the last hour of the game, but if you want to talk about drama... this game had it. Zidane's headbutt is without a doubt the most amazing, fantastic, and stupid thing I've ever seen in a game. While Pujols' home run last year off Lidge is the most dramatic athletic event/moment I've ever seen, Zidane's headbutt put sporting drama to another level. I’ve never seen anything even remotely like that. Maybe, MAYBE, Clemens chucking the bat at Piazza, but Clemens wasn’t tossed (bullshit btw) so it doesn’t really have the same ‘effect’. I can’t think of another player who was ejected in such a big moment. But it wasn’t only the ejection; it was the entire heatbutt too. Just amazing. Somewhere in Dallas, TO is pissed he didn't think of doing that first. (Btw, if I'm an NBA or NFL player, I'm finding out what Materazzi said to Zidane (btw, he's from the heel of Italy, Lecce; in other words someone you know is probably related to him or Gattuso who is from Calabria (not a bad town I might add)).
Anyway, as I said to the ex-roomie while watching the game yesterday, it was sort of like watching the Ohio State/Miami National Title game... one which you were so caught up with the drama, that the game was sort of secondary. While I'm pretty sure the USC/Texas game this year was 'better' if you were to ask me which game I enjoyed more, I'd say OSU/Miami because I had no clue who was going to win at any point in the game. The USC/Texas game, only a fool would have thought USC would be able to hold on during that 4th quarter. Anyway, yesterday's game, while not the greatest ever (Italy/Germany was better) but between the back and fourth play, Henry getting *this close*, Buffon's save on Zidane, and then the headbutt, not to mention the penalties... wow.
Anyway, the headbutt probably will move into second on my annual list of “Oh My God” Sport moments. #1 is the Pistons/Pacers fight. And I’m pretty sure that will never be topped. Well, Dida getting nailed by a flair in the middle of a match is pretty funny. And as always, Monica Seles is not eligible. (Who doesn’t love a sport where players not only kick and headbutt each other on a constant basis, but there’s always the chance that a flair may or may not be shot at the players on the pitch? And you can gamble on soccer too! Seriously, I’m shocked that footie isn’t bigger. I really am. I become more and more convinced every day that the NFL runs this country. That’s right, Paul Tagliabue got Bush elected in 2000).
And after watching the World Cup, I'm convinced that Kimo von Oelhoffen is the dirtiest player to be playing professional sports (I saw a clip of that ‘hit’ the other day, only a Steelers fan could say von Oelhoffen wasn't trying to take Palmers leg off, talk about a sport that needs video replay... oh wait, the NFL has that, but only to correct the spot of a ball, if you're going to have instant relay, why not have replay for pass interference/holding/all the other crap that refs fuck up and effects the game much more than if Willis McGhee scored on first down?). Anyway, so von Oelhoffen is #1. The entire flopping, cry baby, why don't you try and score a goal instead of falling on your faces every time you're within 20 yards of the goal, Portuguese team is second. De Rossi is third.
Oh yeah, the Final… Okay, look Argentina was probably the best team in the Cup, but they totally botched the game against Germany. France was probably better than Italy yesterday (though, it sure looked like Toni wasn’t offsides which then you know, means that Italy should have gone up 2-1). But Italy won. They were constant, they defended well, they got good midfield play, Fabio Cannavaro was not only all over the place but he was always in the right place on top of it and doing the right things… just an amazing tournament, and Italy wasn’t that bad to watch either. They deserved to win. Sure they had a totally surreal game with the United States and Grasso drew a questionable penalty to beat the Aussies, but they outplayed the Germans and didn’t let upstarts like Ghana or Ukraine beat them. (Yes, the US/Italy game was the most surreal game of a very surreal tournament… the Portugal/Netherlands match was crazy, the Final was more unbelievable than surreal, and the entire English performance was… well that was pretty surreal too).
You’ve got to hand it to France who came together at halftime of that Togo match way back when. They came out, got a goal from Vieira to take the lead and didn’t look back. They’re back line started to play lights out, the midfield began to take control of games, and Henry scored a few goals. They were a bit unlucky not to win this game today, but they, and all of us, can look back at this French squad run from 1998 though 2006 as one of the better teams of the modern era. Two major championships and a second place finish… too bad they looked so rubbish in 2002. But Italy is a deserving champion… quick look at the ten best teams of this here World Cup:
- Italy – Did you expect anyone else?
- France – Came together in the end and beat Spain, Brazil, and Portugal and nearly beat Italy for the Cup.
- Argentina – I know, they lost to Germany, but they were a better team.
- Germany – Extremely fun to watch, shocking I know, but true. Didn’t play a bad game the entire tournament.
- Spain – Here us out for a movement… I know they lost to France in the second round. But they were a semifinal team, imo, and played well (even in the loss to France). Nothing to be disgraced about and maybe something they can build on in years to come. They ooze of talent and are pretty young too. I’d tab them as favorites, with Germany, for Euro 2008.
- Portugal – Should have lost to England, in fact, they didn’t deserve to win that game, and seeing how bad England was, that's saying something. How could a team so talented be such a pain to watch?
- Brazil – For a team that played so poorly, how where they still so good? Biggest disappointment in the tournament, but that’s a bit unfair since they weren’t a pain to watch like England… still a disappointing World Cup.
- The Netherlands – Surprising how this team fell apart against Portugal.
- Mexico – Gave Argentina all they could handle, yet still some how disappointing.
- TIE: England and Ghana – England did win, we’ll give them that. But they also were lucky when it came to the ‘draw’. They didn’t play anyone until the Portugal match and still lost. Ghana was a joy to watch and if Essien had played against Brazil… oh let’s face it, Ghana still would have missed the net.
Most disappointing player – It’s either Ronaldino or Frank Lampard… I could careless, but both blew. Okay more tomorrow… but before that…
Why don’t you just go away with Jay Maroitti and have babies?