FIFA World Cup Germany 2006

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

FIFA statement about Zidane's case

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After the World Cup final incidents, FIFA said that it would hold behind closed doors the disciplinary hearing over Zinedine Zidane's case. The decision will be announced on Thursday.

"We inform that the case will take place behind closed doors without the presence of any members of the public or media," FIFA announced in a statement.

"After the two parties have been notified of its content, the Disciplinary Committee's move will be announced exclusively by means of a media release on the same date."

As we know, France's football legend Zinedine Zidane was sent off ten minutes before the end of the World Cup final against Italy for a headbutt on Marco Materazzi, which happened seconds after the Italian apparently insulted his mother and sister.

We can say that Zizou, as French fans endearingly call their talisman, made an apology, but refused to repent, saying the insult was "very personal".

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Italian heaven, Zidane's hell

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This World Cup Final will be remembered for many years for the emotions, tension and surprising ending. After playing to a 1-1 draw through two overtimes, Italy defeated France 5-3 in a penalty shootout to win its fourth World Cup and first since 1982.

France was knocked off its feet when their star Zinedine Zidane, who led Les Bleus to the 1998 Cup, was ejected for inexplicably bashing his head into the chest of an Italian opponent late in the extra time.

"We knew that with what has happened with our football, a nation . . . has the strength to get back on its feet and win over the rest" said midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, referring to a match-fixing scandal that has rocked Italian league.

The game finished 1-1 in 120 minutes, including extra time. The first goal came from Zidane, who converted a penalty shoot in a brilliant way. Materazzi scored the equalizer with a good header. But the tension and the draw wouldn't move again.

Fabio Grosso, a defender, made the final shot in Italy's 5-3 penalty kick shootout triumph over France. Fellow defender Marco Materazzi made his shot in the shootout, too.

But it's what they did on the other end that made their squad special. Italy tied a World Cup record by allowing just two goals all tournament in route to the title. One of those was an own goal. They were the best and now they have the Cup.

In fact, the "Azurri" now ranks only one behind Brazil's record five championships.

"This is the most satisfying moment of my life," Italy coach Marcello Lippi expressed with the help of a translator. "The players have unlimited heart, character and personality."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Germany win the third place

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Bayern Munich player Bastian Schweinsteiger made a night to remember, scoring two great individual goals and having a hand in the third, as Germany earned third place in the World Cup today.

In fact, this victory gave the home fans something to cheer and the players celebrated on the pitch at the final whistle, but both losing semi-finalists will be green with envy when they sit down to watch tomorrow's Berlin final between France and Italy.

It's important to notice that Jurgen Klinsmann, who is yet to announce if he will continue as Germany coach, was full of praise for his players.

"Honestly, it is unbelievable what this team has achieved. Every one of them has worked so hard, I just can't find words for it," he expressed.

About his future in the national team, Klinsmann said he needs time to come to a decision.

"It's just that so much has happened in last few weeks and I haven't taken it all on board yet. Give me a few days."

The third-place match was a day of fond farewells with Portugal star Luis Figo coming on in the 75th minute for his 127th and final international encounter.

Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn announced after winning his 86th cap that it was also his last match for his country. He had been dropped in favour of Arsenal's Jens Lehmann for the Cup, but was recalled to make an emotional farewell here.

"It was my last international match today and I could not have wished for a better final game for my country," said the popular Kahn.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Italy vs. France: The football in blue

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It's certainly not the game most people would have predicted but the quality on offer of Italy and France game on Sunday's World Cup final in Berlin could not be higher - or of a better vintage.

They are not young teams - as they were Spain or Germany - and they were not the favorites to reach the final. But Italy and France did, and that's mostly because they have experienced players with ambition of glory.

France may be the more senior of the teams but you have to get up pretty early to better the Italians at protecting their goal. The Azzurri, who will wear their blue on the night, have conceded just one goal in their six encounters and that an own goal from Cristian Zaccardo. Italy have been reassuringly accurate at the other end too. Coach Marcello Lippi's management of his forward men has led to 11 goals - joint top with Brazil and Argentina - scored by 10 different players.

We must remember that France destroyed Italian dreams in the Euro 2000 final. Now both coaches, Lippi and Domenech, are far too learned to have the word revenge enter their discourse on the match. However, when these two footballing neighbours meet, serious rivalry is never too far away.

We can say that with Zidane's last game, Cannavaro's 100th cap and no suspensions, Italy-France has the makings of a classic, and the World Cup really needs it.

Horacio Elizondo will be the referee

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These are good news for him and for Argentina: Horacio Elizondo was selected to be the referee of the World Cup final between three-time champion Italy and 1998 winner France.

It's good to remember that Elizondo, a 42-year-old physical education teacher, officiated in Portugal's quarter-final victory over England, when he sent off England player Wayne Rooney for stepping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho.

The popular referee also was at the opening match on June 9, when host Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in Munich.

We must mention that Dario Garcia and Rodolfo Otero, also of Argentina, will work the sidelines for the game at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi said on Thursday.

"We've had lots of American, South American and Latin American referees and we've been treated very good," said Giancarlo Abete, the chief of Italy's World Cup squad. "We've shown a lot of respect for the referee's decisions and those of the disciplinary committee."

According to official sources, Japan's Toru Kamikawa will handle today's third-place match between Germany and Portugal in Stuttgart. Yoshikazu Hiroshima of Japan and Kim Dae-young of South Korea will run the lines.

It's important to notice that FIFA vice president Lennart Johansson said Elizondo was a great choice, and he backed the official's decision to send Rooney off against Portugal.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Zidane takes France to the World Cup Final

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Zidane and France performed in a very good style to win 1-0 over Portugal and qualiofy for the World Cup Final. The French star scored the only goal from the penalty spot.

For flashiness, Portugal's new star Cristiano Ronaldo may even have outshone the 34-year-old Zidane, now one game away from winning a second World Cup after their 1998 title.

However, while the talented Manchester United player strained France's notoriously well-glued defences, he tried too often to turn Portugal's attack into a one-man show.

But history will tell that in Wednesday's semi-final, it was the Zidane penalty curse that crushed the Portuguese and handed them their first defeat in 18 encounters.

Indeed, a 33rd-minute penalty shot by Zizou was enough to stop Portugal by the same score this time - six years after a "Zizou" spot kick ousted them in a tumultuous 2002 European championship semi-final that saw Figo walk off the field really angry.

It's fair top say that Zidane, three-time World Footballer of the Year, plans to retire from the game after this World Cup, but it was clear he wanted the shot at that second trophy. He directed the French like a king -- occasionally acting a bit like one too, when he was fouled.

But he blasted home the penalty past Ricardo - one of this Cup's best goalkeepers - flashed the Zidane magic, fought for the ball and even defended as the Portuguese pressed for the equaliser.

And When Nuno Valente brought down Zidane with a minor foul, the Everton defender respectfully patted the French skipper on the head. When Cristiano Ronaldo and Zidane exchanged a handshake after a tussle, it seemed more of a gesture between equals.

Furthermore, Figo had trained only lightly before the game and nearly headed the equaliser on 77 minutes after a doubtful Fabien Barthez let a Ronaldo free kick bounce off his chest.

When the game was over, it was clear that no matter how many talented players Potugal have, Zidane is one of the greatest footballers of history.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Great victory takes Italy to the Final

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With two great goals scored by Fabio Grosso and Del Piero, Italy earned the glory of playing the Final game. They defeated host Germany in an excellent 2-0 game. The Italians will play with the winner of Portugal-France.

The was was more like a war since the very first minute. Italians and Germans performed a very tough battle in Dortmund.

The victory was fair with the football they showed, between two heartful teams that wanted to win at their own style. Ballack and Klose later Odonkor were trying to show the path to victory.

However, the game was very equilibrated. Everybody in the stadium and in front of the televisions were preparing for the penalty shootouts. The physical effort was too big and the Germans could barely walk.

And that was the mortal minute - the very last minute - when the italian team scored their goals. Two goals in the last 30 seconds of action, and the host country will cry forever. Grosso and Del Piero made it possible.

Italy and Germany will fight for the glory of the final.

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Three time winners, Germany and Italy will take the centre stage today in Dortmund to fight for one of the 2006 World Cup final’s ticket.

We can say that before this games, reaching the semi-finals would have been considered an achievement following the spate of criticisms that followed the two sides preparatory to the commencement of this World Cup.

However, now reaching the last four stage will not be enough for either of the runnerups. This is because they now want to go all the way to the trophy and make some statements for themselves.

As for Germany, coach Jurgen Klinemann wants to join the few list of footballers that to have won the championship both as a player and coach.

Italy on the other hand wants the glory to add to their already three titles, and most importantly, to bring back some measure of credibility to a sport that had been battled at home by corruption scandals.

But on the field Germany has demonstrated appetite and positive attitude to win. They have shown some exciting performances that have caused pundits to install them as one of the favourites for the title.

Top scorer, Miroslav Klose, Captain Michael Ballack, Lukas Podolski and super Sub, David Odonkor will be Germany’s weapon against Italy’s usually powerful defence.

The "Azurris", who appeared to have struggled this far will play to contain the hosts, with Luca toni hoping to break his goal scoring duck.

It will be a really hard game, and both sides will have to give everything to win.

Germany, Italy, France and Portugal win in the quarterfinals

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The quarterfinals finished with the biggest tragedies for Brazil, England and Argentina. Now there are four team that will fight for the glory: Germany, Italy, France and Portugal.

Germany defeated Argentina in the penalty shootout, after a 1-1 draw. Roberto Ayala scored in the game, but missed his penalty shoot. Miroslav Klose scored the German goal and became the top scorer of the tournament. Now the host team will play against Italy, who easely crushed Ukraine with a categoric 3-0.

In the other semifinal, Portugal, who defeated England in penalties, will have to stop an amazing France. The "Bleus" shocked the Cup when they defeated superfavorite Brazil, with a 1-0 scored by Thierry Henry.

Europe is the only part of the World that had enough talent to reach this stage. Now one of these nations will be singing the most beautiful music: "We are the Champions".

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Spanish death, French resurrection

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The old gang wants to get back to glorious days. Zinedine Zidane served the deciding goal on Tuesday night, then scored one of his own minutes later to lead France to a 3-1 win over Spain in Hanover, Germany.

Villa scored the 1-0 lead for Spain in a game where the Spaniard side was favorite, but the "Bleus" managed to equalize with a great run by Frank Ribery. Vieira scored the second one and Zidane killed Spain in the last minute.

"We're old but we're still smart," French boss Raymond Domenech said after Les Bleus used shrewd tactics and a couple of clever moves on their way to a 3-1 victory over Spain on Tuesday for a place in the last eight.

Relying on several footballers past their prime but still exceptionally talented, France patiently waited for their opportunities and downed the Spaniards with two late goals.

Now they face Brazil, whom they defeated 3-0 in the 1998 final at Stade de France, and will have to accept being underdogs in Saturday's derby in Frankfurt. This is most likely the most expected game in this World Cup so far.

Brazil breaks records and rivals

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In a very good evening for him, Ronald broke GErd Muller's record, and Brazil won 3-0 to advance to the quarter-final of the 2006 World Cup. This time the victim was Ghana.

In fact, tuesday's goal was Ronaldo's third in four encounters at Germany '06 and it made him the all-time leading scorer in World Cup history with 15, but it has been really hard to tell whether he is on a roll because of the roll that's on him.

According to brazilian newspapers, even Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, involved himself in the national debate over whether the country's star striker Ronaldo was "fat." He then apologized, especially after the footballer mentioned the politician's fondness for a drink now and then.

Inter's Adriano and Bayern Munich's Ze Roberto scored the other two goals for the Brazilian victory. Now the "verdeamarelha" will face a surprising France, in a game that resembles the 1998 World Cup Final.

Referee mistake helps Italy win over Australia

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The Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo, Italy defeated Australia 1-0 and qualify for the quarterfinals to face Ukraine.

According to all the fans in the stadium, Australians fought well the whole encounter and did not deserve a lost in such circumstances. And Italy disserves a credit for being on the attack. However, still being held to a 0-0 draw by Australia the whole match on Monday.

In fact, Italy made it through for this match against Australia by winning over Ghana and the Czech Republic and making a tie against the USA. Australia made it through to the second round for the first time ever in a World Cup tournament. Australia won against Japan, lost to Brazil, and then got a tie awith Croatia.

The Australian newspaper mentioned the terrible mistake that eliminate a good team of the tournament.