Zidane et Les Bleus

I remember reading a joke once along these lines: you know you’re getting old when your team buys a new experienced player and you complain about their buying such a useless old git — until you realize that he’s younger than you.

I’m fractionally older than Zidane so you can imagine the gerontological joy I felt watching on Saturday. Shortly after kick-off there was one sequence where he just skipped by two Brazilian players and it was clear that the game was on.The ball control, the passing, the vision, all of it, a game controlled by sheer will. I can hardly stop writing in sports cliches it was so exciting.

Even though the free kick to Henry, and Henry’s outrageous volley, was spectacular, I think my favorite moment was when Zidane chipped and then headed the ball to get by Ronaldo: one shouldn’t read too much into a given move but that was emblematic of the whole game.

Tangential thought: I was really impressed with Ribery, but getting the scars to go with the swashbuckling play might have been more commitment than strictly necessary.

Anyway, given Brazil’s trouble in dealing with teams that don’t give them a lot of room for maneuvre, it’s not a total surprise that they couldn’t get around the French, but I bet a lot of people are pretty damn disappointed — especially in Bristol CT now that the teams that Americans (real Americans, I mean, not these suspect immigrants writing about football on their blogs) support — England and Brazil — are both out.

Final thought: I’ve been listening to the Guardian’s World Cup podcast, very interesting stuff, and on Sunday they had a final appearance from Fernando Duarte of O Globo. He’s always had interesting contributions but that appearance was a case study in who to admit that you were wrong (ie, Thierry Henry can score in a big game), and to be gracious in defeat.

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All right, so the dirty old man photos are going to take a dent with the Brazilian fans going home — but, I think the notion of a trip to Cannes with the mademoiselle jolie a gauche, followed by a trip to Paris to deconstruct the media panopticon of the World Cup with the mademoiselle jolie a droit, could take the sting out of that…

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