Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Battle Of The Blues in Berlin

When the Azzurri play Les Bleus on Sunday, I know who I'll be cheering for.

I hadn't watched that much soccer before this World Cup [thanks to my deprived upbringing --- I remember devouring the sportspage of The Hindu during the 1990 WC, while my friends watched it on TV :( ]. So I was looking forward to finally seeing what I had previously only read about in newspaper reports - such as the entertaining style of play by the south americans .vs. the more staid (northern) european style. But except for Argentina (check out the gorgeous 24-pass setup to this 2nd goal against Serbia-and-Montenegro), the south americans (read:Brazil) didn't really deliver. The French, on the other hand, did give us some beautiful soccer. Check out this video of Zidane vs. Brazil (one of many video tributes): I now understand a little better why everybody uses words like "genius", "legend" and "best player of his generation" to describe Zidane. This interesting article from the Guardian covers a lot of ground:

Zinedine Zidane's journey from the rough back streets of Marseille to Madrid has been marked by racism, political controversy and superlative football. The world's best player tells Andrew Hussey of his pride in his Algerian heritage, his rage to be the best - and reveals why his talent can still be engulfed by flashes of violence
Ignoring France's internal communal problems for a moment, it's nice to see white, black, north-african and south asian (!) players all on one team. With players with roots in the Caribbean (Thuram and Malouda), Argentina (Trézéguet), the Congo (Makélélé) and India (via Mauritius), the diversity of the team is thanks partly to colonialism of course.

Italy looks like the slightly stronger team, but France have made a habit, recently, of surpassing expectations --- almost not qualifying, recalling players from retirement and having trouble in the early rounds. Hopefully that streak will continue for one more game so that Zidane can retire with a final, second World Cup victory.


Post a Comment

<< Home