Sunday, July 09, 2006 | 12:40 am

With Portugal being put to the sword by Schweinsteiger, we now move on to the denouement. I am torn on this one. My bias is against Italy, for reasons detailed previously, and my romantic hope is for a grand send-off for Zidane, but at the same time, the French were champions not long ago, so perhaps it is Italy's time.

But as far as predictions rather than partisanship goes, I really can't see France unlocking Italy's defense with any regularity. Henry playing alone up front in 4-5-1 should be countered by the excellent Cannavaro, and it will take something special from Zidane or Ribery to crack their way into the box or beat Buffon from distance. So far, the only team that has managed to score against Italy has been Italy.

France's defense has also been solid, but Italy's strikeforce could come from anywhere, with their 11 goals coming from 8 different scorers.

Basically, I'll be heading to the pub to just enjoy the game, hope for a referee who is immune to deception, and wishing that France scores first and early, to ruffle Azzure feathers and get them on the attack rather than time wasting defence. But all the signs are this will be a game of few chances, and it may very well be decided by just one well-taken.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that the telecast "half-time report" is a shadow of actual journalism and devoid of useful information? You get a few slow-motions, some talking heads, and ABC/ESPN trying desperately to make up for the fact that they cannot show commercials during the game. We timed the Germany v Italy half-time report, 15 minutes long, 3 minutes of non-commercial content. I would be ok with this if they didn't keep pumping it up with infographics and commentary all through the first half. Lucky I squeezed that in, I was running out of time to bitch about the telecast...


At 9/7/06 11:09 pm, Anonymous eve said...

well there certainly was a grand send-off for Zidane, wasn't there?


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