Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Mickey McBias reports on a sad finish to Germany 2006 :
So, the fairytale ending for Zizou became a nightmare. Football is like that sometimes, it turns round and kicks you in the face. Or headbutts you, if you prefer.
But let's look back a little, at probably the best two games of the tournament, the Semi-Finals.
Firstly, Germany v Italy, an absolutely epic struggle which was totally absorbing. For the first time in years, Italy actually decided to play football. Great football, at that. And just when it looked like the ugly scenario of penalties were going to rear their head, they pounced. Twice. They deserved it.
Germany were valiant losers, and I'm glad they got the 3rd place spot later, especially after all the criticism that Klinsmann took prior to the tournament.
Then there was France v Brazil. A masterful display by the oh so ageing French side, who just would not give up.
And, almost 4 years after teams from all over the world played hundreds of games in hundreds of locations over many thousands of hours and minutes to reach the finals of Germany 2006, the Final itself was to be between two teams who just nipped in from next door.
It was billed as 'Zidanes Final', the swansong of one of the worlds greatest players, which was watched by 2 Billion people worldwide. It certainly didn't turn out like that. It looked as if it may indeed be his final, at first, when he put the French in front with a cheeky penalty after just 7 minutes. But yes, he deserved to be sent off, although I sympathise with him, as the Italians brought out their dull, cheating, play-acting pathetic side of their game once again. Am I biased ? No, I'm not. The mere fact that Italy's top clubs are embroiled in match fixing allegations only strengthens my argument. Pity, because they really can play football, when they want to.
They just don't do it often enough. The French did deserve to win, but a 1-1 draw after extra time meant the complete lottery of a penalty shoot-out. What a terrible way to decide the world's biggest sporting competition.
But there were great bits along the way, there always is. And I enjoyed it all. Lots of exciting bits, and the atmosphere in places reminded me of the quarter finals of the Rowan Tennis Trophy in Glasgow back in 1975, where we saw the epic struggle of Johnny Reece v Alan Taylor. But that's another story. A long one.
But roll on Euro 2008, I say. Mind you, the hopes of my own Scotland to qualify for this competition are not bright, to say the least.
Seconds after the qualifying draw was made, the journalists were all calling it the 'Group Of Death'.
Take a look at the opponents - you'll see why. But, I'll report on that, in 2 years time.
And yes, congratulations to our own James Barclay, not a football fan at all, who, by Italy winning the World Cup, becomes the AZ Sweepstake winner.
A limited edition (of just ONE) new design AZ T-Shirt, plus £50 of Music vouchers, plus a weekend in Amsterdam with all flights and accommodation paid, coming up for you, sir. Congratulations.
Now, I can't wait for the new season. I think.