The Final

I didn’t bother with the third-place match today,that’s one for the fans of the respective teams.

I don’t have a clear favourite for tomorrow. Watching the French return to life has been fantastic, the old guys pulling out one last hurrah while Henry and Ribery streak to shoot on goal. And who knew that the Italians could expand from traditional defense to play against Germany with such elan, Pirlo and Gattuso bringing style and vim to the midfield and the whole team bringing unflappable calm and relentless attack?

If France play anything less than a blinder, I suspect that Italy will take the game. If Zidane can play as he did against Brazil, and if Henry and Ribery can use their pace to get past Cannavaro and on to a pass — because you don’t just amble by him with the ball at your feet — well then it’s anyone’s game.

A weak forecast? Sure. But then my predictions suck anyway, I was the one who thought this was to be a final between Argentina and Brazil. What I really want, more than anything, is a good game, one that is full of guile, skill, emotion, pace, momentum – and ends in 90 minutes!

I’ve probably already mentioned somewhere on this site “Soccer in Sun and Shadow,” by Uruguyuan writer Eduardo Galeano. It’s a good read, but the part that spoke to me was where he described himself as less interested in supporting a particular team than being more of a beggar who sought only beautiful football. I may not feel it that strongly, but that’s why I watch football. Tomorrow has a chance to be good, I hope it is.


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