116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Zizou Owns Brazil

Thank god I got over my hangover just in time for this one. The mockery of the game that was England-Portugal did much to dampen my expectations for this one, but with all of the star power on display, I couldn't help but get back into it pretty quickly. Here, on display, were the two best players of the last generation, as well as the current (proclaimed) best player in the world, and the current (actual) best player in the world, all lined up and ready to do the damn thing.
Zizou, the mighty, mighty Zizou, took it back to how it's supposed to be, controlling things from the outset and making everyone remember what a truly dominant individual performance actually looks like. Ronaldinho, for his part, actually had a pulse in this game, so maybe I won't have to answer post-Cup questions from my soccer novice friends like, "ESPN kept saying he was the best player in the world, but he didn't seem like he was doing $#!+. Is he really that good?" Henry drifted offside some more, but not as much as previously, and the French continued to perfect their previously disjointed 4-5-1. Ronaldo ate a couple sandwiches before actually showing up around the 80th minute or so.

So Zidane, after all these years, finally assisted on an Henry goal. You know, for a guy who saves his best for the biggest moments, he couldn't have picked a better occasion to do it, or in a more grandiose fashion. That goal was pure class! Ribery continues to be a revelation, while Florent Malouda actually contributed enough for me to maybe, possibly, stop calling him the Christian Karembeu of this year's France team.
The real story of this game, though, was the French defense, which somehow found a way to shut down a motivated Ronaldinho, and perhaps convince Ronaldo that there were donuts to be found somewhere other than at the back of their goal. Lilian Thuram, in particular, gets a medal, as he seemed to shut down every meaningful Brazilian attack, to the point to where the selecao didn't register a single shot on goal until very late in the match. Willy Sagnol was also positively brilliant in the game, and William Gallas and Eric Abidal get to be heroes as well.
As for Brazil, they learned the same lesson England did today: lazy play and sacrificing tactics for stars will only take you so far in this tournament. At the same time, when they finally had their backs to the wall, the Samba Boys abandoned their individuality and became a pretty dangerous attacking force. Unfortunately for them, it was too little, too late, and Zizou and company get to keep their moment going. Imagine if France actually wins this thing...

As an aside, I enjoyed seeing Robinho's enthusiastic post-match hug of Zidane. You learn a lot about the personalities of players when they match up against their usual teammates in international competitions, and it seemed clear that Zizou had been a strong influence on Robinho this past year at Real Madrid. This was much more enjoyable than the ugly scene from yesterday:


Blogger Laurie said...

Another question for you. With your vast soccer knowledge, do you know where I could lay my hands on a video of the France-Brazil game? I was too nervous to enjoy it the first time. It would be great to just watch the play again, knowing how it ends up.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Z. Jackson said...

Not really sure where you can find the video, or if they will even release full matches on video. Your best bets would be to check in on the World Cup official site from time to time, to see if they start selling those videos, or check EBay to see if anyone is selling a recording.

The World Cup official site also has some really good hightlight reels online, so even if you can't get the whole game, you can relive some of the best points.

10:31 AM  

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